Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes inflammation and deterioration of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in the knee joint. As the cartilage begins to break down, the underlying bone changes and slowly worsens with time. The loss of articular cartilage allows the bones to rub together causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
Knee osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease in the United States, and the most frequent cause of chronic pain and physical disability. Arthritis makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as walking or getting out of a chair and leads to a reduced quality of life. Almost 20% of people over the age of 45 suffer with knee osteoarthritis. Additionally, about 21% of adults with osteoarthritis are diagnosed with depression.
The causes are complex and not well understood. However, these factors can increase your risk for developing knee arthritis, including:
- Age: The risk for knee arthritis increases with age.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop knee arthritis than men.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the wear and tear on the knees and lead to arthritis.
- Joint injuries: Joint injuries, such as a torn ligament or meniscus, can increase the risk for developing arthritis later in life. (post-traumatic osteoarthritis)
- Repetitive stress: Jobs or activities that involve repetitive stress on the knees can increase the risk for developing arthritis.
- Family history: Having a family member with arthritis can increase your risk for developing the condition.
- Some bone deformities.
- Diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and hypertension have been linked to osteoarthritis.
The most common symptom of knee arthritis is pain. It may be mild at first and get worse over time. Other symptoms include:
- Swelling, warmth, redness, and tenderness in and around the joint
- Decreased range of motion
- Changes in how you walk
- Cracking or grating sensation when moving the knee joint
Dr. Patel will inquire about your symptoms and review your medical history to evaluate your risk factors. He will perform a physical exam of the knees to test range of motion, and may include checking for warmth, redness, tenderness, swelling and range of motion. Imaging tests such as weight-bearing or standing X-rays are the most important. In some situations, MRIs or CT scans may be used to look for damage to the cartilage or bones. Blood tests may also be done to check for inflammation or other conditions that can cause arthritis-like symptoms.
Just because someone has been diagnosed with knee arthritis does NOT mean they need to live in pain or be limited in their functions. There are many innovative and new non-surgical ways to manage arthritis including braces, laser therapy, and Orthobiologic injections.
When you or a loved one is suffering with knee arthritis, it is important to get an opinion from an orthopaedic specialist like Dr. Ronak M. Patel. He is a double board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine physician trained at Northwestern University and received a fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. He specializes in the treatment of all knee injuries and degenerative conditions. Contact him to schedule a consultation to learn more about how he can help you return to the life you love and the activities that make life worth living. He serves teens and adults in Chicagoland and NW Indiana.
At a Glance
Ronak M. Patel M.D.
- Double Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopaedic Surgeon
- Past Team Physician to the Cavaliers (NBA), Browns (NFL) and Guardians (MLB)
- Published over 49 publications and 10 book chapters
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