Knee osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. It often happens even in younger people, since the development of the disease can, in addition to wear and tear and bad joint position, also occur due to overload or an accident.
Causes and risk factors
Being a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis of the knee usually begins with signs of degeneration and/or minimal damage to the joint cartilage. As time passes, the surface of the cartilage becomes rough and uneven. The joint no longer moves smoothly. The increase in friction causes painful inflammation in the knee, and the liquid spills into the joint capsule.
While the precise etiology of osteoarthritis is unknown, numerous factors contribute to its onset:
The chance of acquiring osteoarthritis rises with age. The wear and tear on the joints over time contributes to cartilage deterioration. Previous joint traumas such as fractures, ligament tears, or repetitive stress injuries can predispose people to osteoarthritis in the afflicted joints.
Some people are predisposed to osteoarthritis genetically, with certain gene variants associated with an increased vulnerability to joint injury.
Joint structural anomalies or misalignments can place uneven pressure on the cartilage, causing it to break down over time.
Osteoarthritis of the knee affects the cartilage and subchondral bone; it is caused by the gradual deterioration and wear of the articular cartilage. The disease develops over many years. Previous knee injuries can cause the disease to appear. Once it is damaged, articular cartilage cannot be regenerated. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones continue to rub against each other, and their ends are deformed. The result is the formation of osteophytes, i.e., bone growths.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Pain, swelling and stiffness of the affected joint occur at intervals over months or years. In some cases, pains that start as a mild nuisance can intensify over time to the point that they interfere with sleep and daily life. Eventually, the joint degenerates, and it hurts less when braking. Also, there is limitation of movement of the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis symptoms vary based on the afflicted joints, but frequent signs include:
Persistent or intermittent joint discomfort that is exacerbated by activity and eased by rest.
Stiffness in the afflicted joints, particularly after inactivity or upon awakening.
Difficulty fully moving the joints, resulting in a reduced range of motion.
Swelling of the Joints
Inflammation causes swelling and discomfort in the affected joints.
A sense of joint instability or weakness, especially in severe osteoarthritis.
A doctor would normally undertake a physical examination, analyze medical history, and may order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans to assess joint damage and rule out other disorders to diagnose osteoarthritis.
Changes in Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy weight through a well-balanced diet and regular exercise can help to prevent joint tension. Low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling are frequently advised.
Stretching, strengthening, and range-of-motion exercises used in physical therapy can enhance joint flexibility, stability, and overall function.
When conservative therapy fails to reduce discomfort and restore joint function, surgical procedures such as joint replacement or arthroscopy may be considered.
Living with osteoarthritis can be difficult, but there are self-care and coping practices that can help people manage the condition:
Cold and hot therapy
Heat or cold packs applied to the afflicted joints might help relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation.
Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for avoiding joint stress.
Avoiding activities that put too much strain on the joints and utilizing good body mechanics when lifting or carrying objects will help protect the joints from additional harm.
Relaxation practices including meditation, deep breathing exercises, and hobbies can help reduce stress and increase general well-being.