What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
What is Osteoarthritis?
There are many forms of arthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is the most common form. When knee pain sets in with swelling and stiffness, these are symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Gout and rheumatoid arthritis are some other types of inflammatory arthritis.
Symptoms and treatments for knee pain are very similar for different types of arthritis. We shall be concentrating on osteoarthritis.
There are two main parts of osteoarthritis. The first is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints and the second is when bony growths develop. These are known as bone spurs or osteophytes.
This progressive condition can lead to stiffness, pain and abnormal joint function. The process of osteoarthritis is very slow. The condition generally worsens over a few years. The main symptom of knee osteoarthritis is pain. There are different forms of pain:
There are some factors that make it more likely that you may suffer from this condition:
How does knee osteoarthritis cause pain?
The knee consists of a weight bearing, flexible joint which is inclined to wear and tear. This increases the chances of developing osteoarthritis. A knee that is arthritic will have a missing, injured or thin cartilage in the joint. This damaged cartilage is not the reason for the pain; instead it causes friction between the bones. This friction leads to knee pain and other problems.
Knee joint structure
Unless the knee has gone through some sort of trauma, the main cause of knee pain is arthritis which is usually osteoarthritis. When the cartilage in the knee has deteriorated by thinning, damage or wearing away of the joint then new cartilage will have to be created. The new cartilage cells may not grow in a normal smooth way, instead they may be bumpy. This will result in the shin bone and the thigh bone rubbing together in the knee joint. Knee osteoarthritis usually starts with cartilage in the shin and thigh bones deteriorating.
To make up for the deteriorating cartilage, the bones in the joint may produce small bony like growths known as bone spurs or osteophytes. These osteophytes can generate extra friction in the knee joint. Abnormal function in the knee triggers the body to compensate by using ligaments and tendons that are close by. This leads to more problems with the function of the knee and more instability.
The damaged cartilage and bone spurs by themselves are not the main problem. It is the friction between the joints which causes the pain. If osteoarthritis is diagnosed properly and early then it can be treated to help ease sufferers’ symptoms and encourage healthy joint function and stop symptoms progressing.
View treatment options we provide for knee pain here