In this post, we’ll outline the ins and outs of arthritis of the knee, touching on:
- What is arthritis?
- How does it affect the knee?
- What are the treatment options for knee arthritis?
- How can Michigan Surgery Specialists help?
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a board term for a condition affecting joints and/or tissue surrounding joints. There are several different types of arthritis that can affect different parts of the body; some of the most common being: Osteoarthritis (degenerative breaking down of cartilage), Rheumatoid Arthritis (an autoimmune disorder), Fibromyalgia (widespread body pain/aches) and Gout (a buildup of uric acid).
Though symptoms can vary based on type and severity, the most common symptoms of arthritic conditions include inflammation, pain and stiffness throughout the body, and weakness or decreased range of motion.
How does arthritis affect the knee?
Arthritis of the knee typically comes from one of two types, Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis in the knee generally stems from repeated use and wear-and-tear. It is most often seen in the older population, but can occur in younger patients, particularly athletes who participate in sports that require a lot of leg movement or risk of damage to the knees. With Osteoarthritis, the cartilage inside the knee joint wears down over time, causing the bones to rub together; this is where the knee pain stems from. Because the condition is degenerative (meaning it gets worse over time), the pain may not be as noticeable initially, but can become debilitating as time goes on.
If your knee pain is caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis, then the condition is not caused by the cartilage wearing away, but by the swelling of tissue that surrounds the joints. The inflammation is what leads to pain and stiffness in the knees. This chronic condition typically affects both the right and left knee joints at the same time, making any activity on your feet difficult to perform.
What are my treatment options?
Knee arthritis can easily be diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon through a medical examination, x-ray testing, MRI or CT (if necessary) or by bloodwork (if caused by a disease). Though there is no cure for arthritis, one or a combination of a few treatment options are available based on your physician’s findings.
- Surgery – There are different surgical treatments out there based on the severity of your condition. You and your surgeon will determine what the best operation is for you! These can include: Arthroscopy (more commonly used to treat a secondary condition from the degeneration), Synovectomy (removal of damaged joint lining), Cartilage replacement, Total or Partial Knee Replacement Surgery.
- Physical Therapy – PT is used to strengthen the muscles in the leg, increase range of motion and stability. Physical Therapy can be used as an alternative to surgery in mild cases, or for post-surgical recovery. You, your therapist and your surgeon should work together to come up with a customized treatment plan that fits the needs of your lifestyle.
- Medication and Lifestyle Changes – your doctor may suggest making modifications to your everyday life to help reduce the symptoms of your arthritis or slow the progression of the condition. These lifestyle changes can include reducing activities that have a harsh impact on your knees (like running and active sports like soccer and basketball), making adjustments to your diet and losing weight to reduce the stress on the knees. Your physician may also recommend medications as a course of treatment. Some of these medication options may include steroid injections in the knee, taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling or prescribing a DMARD (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug) for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
How can we help?
At Michigan Surgery Specialists, our Orthopedic Surgeons are well versed in arthritis as well as many other conditions of the knee. They are available in our Auburn Hills, Southfield and Warren offices to help determine what course of treatment is right for you.
If rehabilitation services are necessary, look no further than our sister company, Motus Rehabilitation, for physical therapy!