What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that people experience. It is typically known as “wear-and-tear arthritis.” This is because OA develops when the cartilage between joints wears away over time from regular activity and aging.
As the cartilage wears away, the bones within your knee joint begin to rub together. Osteoarthritis also diminishes the shock that your knee can absorb. Bone-on-bone contact from OA can cause swelling, stiffness, bone spurs, and decreased mobility.
While most people think that osteoarthritis only affects people over the age of 45, people under the age of 25 can also develop this condition. And, since we use our knees every day, the knee is especially prone to osteoarthritis.
Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis
Age is the most common cause of osteoarthritis. There are several other factors that can contribute to this condition developing. For instance, women over 55 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis in their knees than men.
Weight is a significant contributor to the development of osteoarthritis. This is because extra weight puts more pressure on your knee joints. In fact, for each pound of excess weight you gain, you add 3-4 pounds of pressure on your knees. Over time, this will lead to osteoarthritis as your cartilage may wear down more quickly.
Osteoarthritis can also be a hereditary condition. Some people will inherit genetic mutations that make developing osteoarthritis more likely. Families may have abnormalities in the shape of the bones in their knees, which can cause OA to develop over time.
Having a job that requires you to do repetitive movements can also be hard on your knees and contribute to OA. This is because kneeling, squatting, and lifting weights can put extra stress on your joints. Similarly to excess weight, this extra pressure will help wear down your knee joint over time.
Patients can experience a wide range of symptoms from their osteoarthritis. The severity of knee osteoarthritis symptoms will depend on how advanced the arthritis is within the joint.
The most commonly reported symptoms for knee osteoarthritis are:
- Cracking or creaking within the knee joint
- Feeling of warmth within the joint
- Stiffness following periods of rest
- Discomfort after periods of movement
- Decreased mobility
During your consultation with Dr. Vigdorchik, he will review your history. After performing a thorough examination of your knee joint, you will discuss your symptoms. More testing may be needed to determine the type and severity of your arthritis.
Conservative Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis
There are several options when it comes to treating osteoarthritis. Dr. Vigdorchik has a non-operative priority. He prefers treating patients with conservative measures before opting for surgery.
Some of the most common conservative treatments for knee osteoarthritis include:
- Weight Loss: even losing a small amount of weight can decrease the symptoms of osteoarthritis
- NSAIDs: taking over-the-counter pain medications is a good option for people who are experiencing discomfort from osteoarthritis.
- Corticosteroid Injections: this treatment involves injecting a steroid into your knee joint. Corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation and discomfort from osteoarthritis.
- PRP Injections: this treatment involves using a patient’s own platelets to reduce inflammation, stimulate the formation of new cartilage, increase lubrication within the joint, and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis within the knee.
- Stem Cell Therapy: this treatment involves injecting a patient’s stem cells into the joint. Since stem cells are essentially “blank slates” that can fill in any role, the cells will develop into cartilage cells, reduce inflammation, and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Exercise: by exercising, you will be building strength in the muscles around your knee, which stabilizes the joint. You can also stretch to help keep your knee joint mobile and flexible.
- Physical Therapy: physical therapy is often a good option for people with osteoarthritis. Physical therapy involves guided exercise to build strength and mobility in your knees. Over time, this helps people with OA maintain their daily activities and exercise routines.
Surgical Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis
If you have not experienced relief from conservative treatments, you may be a candidate for surgery. There are several surgical options available to men and women with osteoarthritis:
- Arthroscopy: during this procedure, Dr. Vigdorchik will use an arthroscope to visualize the joint. During an arthroscopy, your surgeon can remove damaged cartilage, and loose particles within the joint.
- Partial Knee Replacement: depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis, a partial knee replacement may be enough to restore mobility and comfort. During this procedure, Dr. Vigdorchik will remove a damaged area of the knee and replace it with a prosthesis.
- Total Knee Replacement: during this procedure, the entirety of the knee joint will be replaced. This will allow for smooth and comfortable motion.
Osteoarthritis, unfortunately, has no cure. Uncomfortable symptoms can be managed using the conservative and surgical treatments outlined above.
During your appointment, Dr. Vigdorchik will discuss the severity of your osteoarthritis. He will also review the treatments available to you and the outcome you can expect. Everyone has a different experience. However, many people are able to maintain their regular routines and their mobility even with osteoarthritis.