Osteoarthritis is an inflammation of the bone and joints. It is one of the most common types of arthritis. It can affect any part of the body but is commonly seen in the knees.
As you grow old, your bones become brittle and the cartilages wear away though time. That makes age a considerable risk factor.
Although it affects the elderly, it can also happen to other age groups and the reason could be hereditary. Other causes are an injury to the knee and infection.
Being overweight is also a risk factor as it brings heavy to load onto your knees and in turn, increases stress onto the joint leading to cartilage breakdown.
If you have noticed some knee pain during any activity, it could be knee osteoarthritis. Also, the pain may resolve with rest.
Since it is a form of inflammation, you may observe varying degrees of swelling and can feel some heat on the joint area.
In the morning, you might find some stiffness of the knee. It can also occur when you have been sitting for hours.
Sometimes, you may see yourself having difficulty in performing daily routine such as walking and climbing up or down the stairs. This is due to the changes in the mobility of the knee relating to its disease process.
Once you have taken down notes of what makes the pain worse or better, you may now consult with your doctor and inform him or her with all of your observations.
Aside from medical history taking, the doctor will perform a physical examination and note any additional signs and symptoms. Diagnostic imaging may be requested if needed and this includes X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
If the doctor is considering other conditions, a blood test may be requested too.
The main goals of treatment for knee osteoarthritis are:
- to alleviate the pain
- to return the mobility of the knee
To achieve these goals, a combination of treatment plans may be necessary, and these are the following:
Ask your doctor what your BMI is. If your BMI lies between 25 and 29.9, then you are overweight. Any measurement from 30 and beyond means you are obese.
Losing the extra pounds you have will help you achieve your goal of decreasing knee pain. It is because as you lose weight, you also lessen the force that your knees are receiving every time you walk or stand up.
Doing daily exercise will help restore the mobility of the knee joint. Also, the muscles surrounding the knee will get stronger making the joint more stable. This will also cause a reduction in knee pain.
Did you know that knee replacement for knee osteoarthritis can be delayed by just a simple physical activity? A study showed that brisk walking for just 5 minutes delays the need for knee replacement. Now, do you think you can give 5 minutes a day for your knee osteoarthritis?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used to treat the arthritic pain. Over-the-counter (OTC) drug choices are Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil), or Naproxen Sodium (Aleve).
WARNING: Do not take OTC meds for more than 10 days without seeing your doctor.
Steroids are powerful inflammatory drugs and it is administered directly into the knee joint. Although it is one of the effective treatments, there is a risk in using this medication as supported by studies that showed an acceleration of joint deterioration. Discuss with your doctor if this is the best option for you, as it is a case to case basis.
Hyaluronic acid is normally present inside the joints as a lubricant and provides a smooth cushion between bones whenever the body moves. This can be injected into the knee joint to reduce pain and stiffness. Ask your doctor if this treatment plan will work for you.