Knee Arthritis

by Carol Gomes


The knee joint is susceptible to many forms of arthritis. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis generally affects people in their old age. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect a person at any age. Post-traumatic arthritis may develop in case of an injury to the knee joint.

Symptoms

The symptoms associated with knee arthritis are stiffness and inflammation of the knee. It becomes difficult to bend or straighten the knee and everyday activities such as walking become painful chores. The pain and swelling is usually worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity. Changes in the weather may also bring about an increase in these symptoms.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms it is a good idea to consult your physician. He or she will perform a thorough physical examination of the affected part to determine the presence of arthritis.  He may also take x-rays of the affected part or carry out an MRI. Samples of blood or synovial fluid may also need to be taken, especially in case of rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment

Treatment for arthritis of the knee will depend on the kind of arthritis and the severity of the inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be prescribed along with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate oral supplements for pain relief. Corticosteroids may be directly injected into the knee in case of severe inflammation. In case of chronic arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, the physician may also prescribe disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

In addition to medication, physical therapy also plays an important role in the treatment of knee arthritis. Gentle activities such as walking and swimming are especially beneficial in this condition. They help increase range of motion and flexibility as well as strengthen the muscles in the leg. Gentle stretching of the affected knee and combined with massage therapy is also recommended. Supportive devices such as canes and braces can also prove very beneficial. Weight loss is also an important part of the therapy and can be accomplished with a proper diet and sufficient exercise. Increased weight places additional stress on the knees and will aid the wear down of cartilage.

If physical and medicinal methods do stem the symptoms of arthritis, there are also many surgical options that are available. These include arthroscopic surgery, osteotomy, total or partial arthroplasty, or cartilage grafts. Your physician will be able to better advise you on the treatment options that are available.


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