Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis of the knee and occurs as a result of the wear and tear associated with the aging process. It is commonly seen in people over the age of 50, especially women. Osteoarthritis in the knee mainly occurs as a result of the stresses placed by the weight of the body and frequently develops as a result of the aging process. Previous knee injuries, genetic predisposition, bone deformities and diseases increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Repetitive activities and physically demanding jobs, such as farm work that place high levels of stress on the knees, may lead to osteoarthritis. Traumatic injuries such as automobile collisions can also play a role in the onset of osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knee include pain that increases with activity and decreases while at rest, swelling, a feeling of warmth, stiffness, cracking sounds in the knee while moving, and overall decreased mobility. Knee osteoarthritis is diagnosed by a physical examination. The examiner will look for signs of osteoarthritis, which include redness and swelling in joint, tenderness in the knee, limited range of movement, joint instability, and signs of injury to the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the knee. Additional tests, such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans and bone scans, may be needed to determine the extent of damage and the condition of the knee.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis; however, treatment options are designed to reduce pain and restore mobility. Typical treatment regimens for knee osteoarthritis include exercise and weight loss, pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, immobilization devices, and physical therapy. Surgery may be required if conservative treatment options fail. Surgical procedures include arthroscopy, osteotomy, and arthroplasty.