What is knee arthritis?
– Osteoarthritis is a degenerative, disabling “wear and tear”, type of arthritis which sees articular cartilage thin and be replaced by bony spurs over time.
– Over time, the arthritic knee joint space diminishes and load bearing activity causes severe pain.
– There is no cure for arthritis and when conservative treatment no longer works surgery remains the most effective option.
– There are many different types of arthritis the most common type being osteoarthritis which is the degenerative ageing type.
– The Second most common is rheumatoid arthritis.
– While osteoarthritis commonly affects men and women RA is 3 times more common in women than men and is an auto-immune condition.
What are the symptoms of knee arthritis?
– Pain that increases when you are active, or activity related pain
– Pain that interferes with daily activities
– Swelling, redness and feeling of warmth in the joint due to inflammation
– Worse pain in colder weather or when it is about to rain
– Stiffness in the knee, especially in the morning or when sitting for a while
– In advanced cases, the knee pain is constant and wakes you up at night
– A bowing in or out of your leg
– Instability and collapsing on walking
– Knee stiffness becomes more restrictive
What tests are used to diagnose knee arthritis?
Dr Herald will decide on the best imaging for your arthritis condition.
Generally, x-rays (standing (or weight bearing x-rays) can show the impacts of gravity on arthritis and determine if there is rubbing on bone.
X-rays of an arthritic knee would typically show a narrowing of the joint space, formation of bone spurs (osteophytes) and changes in bone alignment.
Additionally, an MRI may be used to rule out other conditions such as meniscal tears or synovitis or other concurrent conditions which may be exacerbating the arthritis.
What is the treatment for knee arthritis?
– Non-surgical treatments such as physiotherapy, pain medication and a full course of anti-inflammatories are a good first line of action.
– Synvisc or cortisone injections organised by Dr Herald may provide relief for several months
– However, if this has been tried and is not effective and the arthritis impedes your lifestyle and independence a joint replacement should be considered.
– Stem cell treatments have not enough efficacy and safety information yet to be used on joints. See Dr Herald’s statement on stem cells here.