*For more information on the knee in general, refer to a previous blog titled “The Knee Explained”. Arthritis is just a broad term with several different types ranging from osteoarthritis to gout to rheumatoid arthritis. This blog is just going to focus on the most common type of arthritis: osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear arthritis”. The cartilage that surrounds the bones of the knee joint and the meniscus both wear down and result in rubbing of bone on bone leading to deterioration of the bone.
CAUSES: Most often this osteoarthritis develops secondary to previous injuries, poor body mechanics, poor health, and/or being overweight. This typically begins occurring in the 40s and 50s and is progressive with age.
SIGNS/SYMPTOMS: Pain with activities, decreased range of motion, stiffness in the joint (especially upon initial movement), tenderness along the joint line, a feeling of instability, and variance throughout the day and throughout the year.
DIAGNOSIS: A physical examination and x-rays are usually enough to make a confident diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Blood tests may need to be performed to rule out other conditions, including other types of arthritis.
TREATMENT: Weight loss, improve the diet, activity modification, chiropractic adjustments of the knee to establish proper alignment and motion, heat, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories (either natural or synthetic), glucosamine and chondroitin, and ultimately, knee surgery (there are various types of these).
COMPLICATIONS: Once arthritis has begun to develop, it is likely to continue to progress until something is done to stop progression. Ultimately, osteoarthritis can become debilitating to the point where normal activities are impossible to perform.
PROGNOSIS: When action is not taken to improve the health of the body, prognosis is not very good. Many people will continue to experience pain and deterioration. However, studies have shown that not all cases of osteoarthritis progress. With proper steps, people can reduce pain and increase function of affected joints.