Arthritis in the Knee: Smart Facts You Should Know

With advanced age, come some of the most common lifestyle diseases. These diseases are often due to lack of proper exercises, low body immunity, and sometimes lack of proper diet. Nonetheless, the diseases that come in advanced age are usually because the body is no longer functioning as it used to. Some of these diseases include, back pains, cardio health complications, and arthritis among others. However, the most rampant one is the arthritis in the knee.

In this post, I want to focus on arthritis. I will talk about types, symptoms, causes, and treatments of knee arthritis. My aim is to ensure that as a reader, you get the clearest picture on arthritis and how to manage it.

Types of arthritis in the knee

In this section, I will talk about types of knee arthritis. However, before we get to that, let’s find out what arthritis in the knee is.

What is Arthritis?

As a general term, arthritis is used to refer to the health condition that affects the joint and its surrounding tissues. Some of the most common joints include the knee and elbows. Arthritis in the knee will cause periodic inflammations. The swelling can be pronounced when you are least active especially after long hours of rest, sitting, or sleep.

 Types of Arthritis

We have two main types of knee arthritis. This type of categorization will easily help you to determine the type of arthritis that you have easily. They are.

Osteoarthritis

knee Osteoarthritis

Image credit : https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/

Osteoarthritis is simply the “wear and tear” of the joints. When your joints support so much weight, they cave in because of the resultant pressure. This type of overuse happens because of advanced age, joint injuries, accidents, and obesity.

These types of conditions will exert extra stress on the joints that bear weight and eventually cause them to degenerate. Some of the weight bearing joints that this type of arthritis is common to include.

  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Feet
  • Neck
  • Spine
  • Lower back
  • Small hand joints

Osteoarthritis (OA) is usually painful. It is a gradual condition that will come over in months or even years. It causes pain around the affected joints. However, you won’t feel sick or get the fatigue that the other types of arthritis will cause.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand is an autoimmune health condition. What this means is that it causes your immune system to malfunction.  Rheumatoid Arthritis attacks the synovial membrane around your joint. This is the “casing” that protects your joints.

Once it attacks this membrane, it results into inflammation, which causes severe damage to the joint if untreated. Rheumatoid arthritis often targets many joints at the same time.  It may also cause lumps on your skin called the rheumatoid nodules. The nodules are common to the joint areas, which receive high pressure such as:

  • Knuckles
  • Heels
  • Elbows

What causes arthritis in the knee?

No one can single out one cause of arthritis in the knees. The cause or even causes of arthritis will vary according to the main type of arthritis that you have. Nonetheless, the possible causes of arthritis, especially knee arthritis may include:

Injury to the knee: This may trigger a degenerative arthritis with abnormal metabolism. It may cause rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or pseudo gout inheritance.

Inheritance: In other peculiar cases such as in osteoarthritis infections, the disease is often hereditary. This means that the offspring can easily inherit it from the parent. In such cases you will inherit the gene from your parents.

Immune System Dysfunction: In cases such as RA and SLE the major cause is often immune dysfunction. Nonetheless, in many occasions, the major causes of arthritis are often a combination of factors.

NOTE: Some people are genetically likely to develop other arthritic conditions. Even so, additional factors, including injury, infections, and unhealthy habits such as smoking can also trigger arthritis in the knees.

What are the symptoms of arthritis in the knee?

The symptoms of arthritis in the knees are so many. There are the basic ones and the ones that will be obvious once the condition escalates. The basic symptoms include:

  • Deep pain that aches
  • Pain when walking
  • Swollen joints
  • Inability to achieve full range of motion
  • Morning stiffness that eases after a while
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Hard to move joints

Nonetheless, some symptoms may come gradually or even start suddenly especially with rheumatoid arthritis. For RA these symptoms will much severe than in a case of osteoarthritis. In an escalated scenario, the symptoms will include:

  • Pain on multiple joints
  • Swollen joints
  • Symmetrical inflammation patterns
  • Morning stiffness that lasts for days
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inflammation, tender, and redness around the knee
  • Hard to move joints

Rheumatoid arthritis has some of the most severe symptoms of the two. It is often very infectious and will leave you with so much pain. An escalated case of RA will easily lead to knee replacement surgery.

NOTE: You may also experience some trouble when dressing, gripping things, bending over, squatting, or climbing stairs. However, this will depend more on the type of joints involved in the action.

Treatment for Arthritis in Knees

There are many ways of addressing arthritis. However, the treatment for arthritis in the knees or any other form of arthritis will aim at doing the following:

  • Controlling Pain
  • Minimizing joint damage
  • Improving or Maintaining Normal Functionality

To make this possible, several medications and also lifestyle strategies may be implemented. The main aim of doing this is to protect the joints and the knee tissues from any further damage. The treatments will involve the following.

Medications

Non-inflammatory arthritis including osteoarthritis can often be addressed with specific pain-reducing medications. The treatments can always be fused with the right physical activities and weight loss processes. Pain-reducing treatments can also be used in inflammatory arthritis together with self-management education. The same treatment can also work for RA together with anti-inflammatory medications.

Some of the best medications to go for when you have arthritis in the knees include:

  • Analgesics: Pain reducing with no effect on inflammation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Reduce Pain and Inflammation
  • Counterirritants: Creams and ointments that lessen pain.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): Treats RA, Stops immune system’s attack on joints

Physical or Occupational Therapy

Physical therapy involves the introduction of body workout routines. Depending on the extent of your arthritis, it is important to seek the doctor’s advice. Once the doc has determined the type of physical therapy that’s good for you, then you can hit the ground.

Even so, this process needs determination, discipline, and commitment. It takes time and will require regular practice. However, the process has been very successful and will be a great way to start. Some of the workouts that you can start with include:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Calisthenics
  • Bodyweight workouts

Patient Education and Support

We may never realize it but there is so much to learn about arthritis in the knees. A little sensitization goes a long way. With the right information patients can take the needed precautions. They will also ape a healthy lifestyle that addresses the risks of arthritis. For instance:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Normal workout routine
  • Knee joint care

Surgery

Knee surgeries including joint replacement can also be used to address extensive damage on the knees. With the knee ligaments greatly degenerated, there may be need for artificial replacement of the knee. This can be done through a surgical procedure. It is a great way of addressing RA but only in extreme cases.

NOTE: The other remedies of arthritis include weight loss, joint assistive aids, non-pharmacologic therapies, and splints.

Best knee sleeve for arthritis

There is also the one thing that I want to point out. In case you have arthritis in the knees, it is important to wear the best knee sleeve for arthritis. This is especially important when you are working out. The sleeves will not treat arthritis. However, they will address the pain and swelling through controlled compression.

Rheumatoid arthritis knee

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs if the body’s immune system turns to attack the body tissues. This is specifically for the connective tissues. When this happens, it triggers inflammation, pain, and the degeneration of the joints. The connective tissue here is the Cartilage. It is the tissue charged with absorbing the pressure and shock around the joints during movement.

How do you know if you have arthritis?

The best way to know if you have arthritis is to go for a medical check-up. You can ask your doctor to carry out some examinations that will determine that. However, if you have a busy schedule, you can always focus more on the symptoms that we have highlighted here. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Pain around the knee
  • Swelling around the knee
  • Stiffness on the joints
  • Redness on the knees
  • Lack of full-range in motion

You can always keep a keen eye on the loss of appetite too.

How to tell if you have arthritis?

Like I have mentioned, the best way is to have a medical examination once you have your doubts. Nonetheless, going with the signs and symptoms is a good thing if you trust your judgment. Once you realize an unrelenting pain around your knees when you move, swelling after rest, and stiffness, it should be a red flag.

You can also try to do full range motion workouts such as calisthenics. In case you cannot go the full-range, you should confirm your doubts. However, remember to have a combination of symptoms and not focusing on a single symptom.

What does arthritis in the knee feel like?

If you have arthritis in the knee, you will notice that your joints will swell. There could also be some redness around the knee. This is as much as your physical examination can go. The feeling is however different. You will experience hot, tender, and often painful feeling. There will also be stiffness when you wake up. This discomfort might be persistent in the morning but wears off as the day goes by.

Conclusion

Weight loss routine is also a good way of addressing knee arthritis. Excess weight causes a lot of pressure that will lead to degeneration of knee tissues. It can also cause inflammation and eventually pain. If you take up proper eating habits, body workout routine, and healthy living tips you will get the right help in toning down your weight too.

With arthritis caution is better than cure. I am grateful that this post has been of help and that you can now find the best tips to address your arthritis. My advice is to seek medical help once you have your suspicions.

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311095.php
  2. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/arthritis-of-the-knee
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knee_arthritis
  4. https://www.wikihow.com/Know-if-You-Have-Arthritis-in-the-Knee
  5. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-mystery-arthritis-linked-knee-bone-common.html
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