Knee osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?

Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of Arthritis that is associated with the wear and tear of the joint cartilage and commonly occurs in the large weight-bearing joints of the body such as the knee, hip and spinal joints.

What causes Knee OA?

The most common cause of Knee OA is aging. As you get older, the cushioning layer between the two bones of the knee joint degenerates due to repetitive use. This can lead to swelling, stiffness and pain in the joint. A majority of people will develop some degree of Knee OA. However, several other factors can increase the risk of developing significant arthritis at an earlier age. These include:

Symptoms of Knee OA

How is Knee OA diagnosed?

Your doctor or physiotherapist can make a diagnosis of your Knee OA based on your symptoms and physical examination. X-Ray Imaging is also used to observe structural changes such as narrowing of joint space and bone spurs. It is important to be aware that extensive changes on X-Ray do not always mean a person will experience a high level of pain and vice versa. Besides physical changes that occur within the joint, other factors such as your mood, levels of stress and anxiety, quality of sleep, fatigue and too much focus on your knee pain can have an effect on how much pain you are feeling. Therefore, learning to manage all of these factors will help you combat your Knee OA more effectively.

Management of Knee OA

For a majority of people, OA is characterised by stable periods interspersed with flare-ups. It is important to understand that not all Knee OA will worsen over time and there are positive, active things that you can do to help manage the pain and carry on with your normal life.

During flare-ups you should have a short period of rest for the pain to settle. A long period of rest, however, has been shown to be detrimental to a person’s joint health and their ability to return to activities and therefore should be avoided.

The goal of managing Knee OA is to minimize pain, improve joint flexibility and the ability to return to daily activities and hobbies. It usually requires a multi-faceted approach and your healthcare team will be able to assist with this.

In cases where conservative approach shows no improvement, Total Knee Replacement surgery performed by an Orthopedic surgeon may be considered.