8 Symptoms of Arthritis of the Knee
How To Tell If Arthritis is The Cause of Pain, Discomfort, or Disfigurement In Your Knees
Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the adults in the United States have arthritis. The most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disease that breaks down the cartilage in the joints. Osteoarthritis is caused by the gradual wearing down of cartilage over time.
Both of these conditions cause similar but slightly different types of arthritis in the knee. In this article, we’ll explore eight common symptoms of arthritis in the knee, as well as how to treat them.
Symptoms of Knee Arthritis
- Bone Spurs – Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs can form due to inflammation, usually where two bones rub together. This rubbing together often results from the erosion of cartilage, the tissue that helps your joints move around in their socks.
- The Appearance of the Knee Changes – Deformities of the knee can occur as the disease worsens. Different types of arthritis cause different types of changes. People with osteoarthritis may notice their knees bending outward or bending towards each other. They may also see a sunken appearance due to weakness in the muscle surrounding the knee. Those with rheumatoid arthritis typically see certain changes during a flareup. Specifically, redness and inflammation occur, and they get worse over time. It can even damage tendons and cartilage permanently.
- Pain Slowly Worsening Over Time – What may start as a slight pain can grow and worsen with arthritis. It starts with certain situations: getting out of bed, walking up a flight of stairs, putting extra strain on your knees, or moving after staying still for a long time. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to start in smaller joints like fingers and toes. High-stress activities can activate the pain, along with stress and colder weather. You may experience days of severe pain and others with remarkably little.
- Lack of flexibility and limited range of motion – If it’s harder to bend the limbs in certain ways than it used to be, this could be a result of some kind of arthritis. The loss of cartilage or swelling caused by arthritis can make it harder to bend over, kneel, sit, stand, walk, or run like you used to. Wheelchairs, walkers, and canes can help people with arthritis adapt to a limited range of motion.
- Knee is Unstable – The knee buckling or locking out is a common symptom of arthritis. This means that it could be harder for you to bend your knee or straighten it out. The reason this occurs is that the cartilage, which helps keep the joint lubricated, begins to wear away. This means the knee is less reliable than it used to be. The development of bone spurs can make this problem even worse.
- Knee Becomes Swollen or Tender – Swelling and inflammation are common with arthritis of the knee. For those with osteoarthritis, this could take the form of bone spurs or inflammation due to a build-up of fluid. People with rheumatoid arthritis experience swelling as well, and it could be accompanied with other forms of illness. This might include feeling tired, exhibiting a fever, and generally not feeling your best. This is due to rheumatoid arthritis being an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body.
- Popping and Cracking sounds – These sounds can occur when moving your knee in a certain way. For example, bending or straightening the knee can be accompanied by cracking or popping sounds. “Crepitus” is the technical term. These sounds come from the bare bones rubbing against each other after the cartilage has been worn down. People with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis may notice these sounds.
- Decreased Amount of Cartilage – The lowered amount of cartilage is a major cause of many arthritis of the knee symptoms. If your doctor performs an X-ray, you will be able to see the space around the knee where the cartilage used to exist.
Treatment Options for Knee Arthritis
If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms happening with your knees, here are some treatments that are available. Not every option is the best choice as some simply mask the pain instead of correcting the root cause.
- Diet and Exercise – Being overweight is a common risk factor of arthritis and contributor to the pain, especially in the knees. Losing weight by dieting and exercising can help relieve the strain placed on the knees. Low-stress exercises like water therapy, cycling, and walking can keep the knee from stiffening.
- Drugs and Medication – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be able to help with inflammation and pain, but will not rebuild the deteriorated cartilage/tissue between the joints. This is more for pain mangement, but left untreated, the pain will eventually worsen, most often resulting in surgery. Ibuprofen and aspirin are common choices. For more severe cases, prescription tramadol or corticosteroid injections may help. Creams like capsaicin may also be able to assist.
- Heat and Cold Pads – Try placing warm or chilled pads on the affected joint to help reduce swelling and pain.
- Surgery – This is recommended as a last option if the tissue is completely gone. A partial or total knee replacement can help remove damaged tissue or provide an entirely new knee. However, rehabilitation is rigorous, can last up to a year, and only boasts about a 65% success rate.
- Exosome Therapy – Similar to stem cells, exosomes are small little bubbles of protein that repair damaged tissue. Exosomes work by kickstarting the development of proteins that fix damaged cells. Research suggests that exosome therapy can help with inflammation and protect against osteoarthritis progression.
Additionally, using a cane or walker to move around can help with the pain, and a physical therapist could provide targeted treatment to boost recovery.
Seek Help for Arthritis of the Knee
Consult with our team to learn more about the best combination of treatment options for you.
To learn more about the arthritis treatments provided by The Novus Center in Los Angeles and Studio City, California, simply fill out the form below.