The word arthritis originates from a Greek word, meaning 'inflammation of the joints'. Arthritis is the disorder of body joints. The most common types of arthritis seen among aging people, are osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and septic arthritis. When the cartilage of the joint, deteriorates gradually, it is called osteoarthritis. As it hardens over a period of time, it leads to deformity. Inflammation of synovial membranes that protect tendons and joints in the body is a symptom of the autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis. An overactive immune system and an abnormal immune response can lead to arthritis. It affects the joints in the body like fingers, wrists, ankles and knees.
Knee Arthritis Causes
Wear and tear of the body due to age, being overweight, common knee injuries (torn meniscus, damaged ligament, bone fractures), trauma to the knee joint, an illness, an infection, and certain genetic factors can lead to knee arthritis. A metabolic disorder can also affect the function of the knee joint. People over 50 years of age are more likely to suffer from this degenerative joint disease. With dysfunction of the knee joint, the person may have difficulty in carrying out day-to-day activities.
Fever, fatigue, swollen knee, pain with activities, loss of appetite, loss of energy, weight loss, are some of the common symptoms of knee arthritis. The symptoms may vary from person to person.
- Pain: The person may experience constant pain in the affected knee. Negligence and lack of proper treatment may worsen the joint pain.
- Burning Sensation: The person may experience a burning sensation in the area surrounding the affected joint. Repeated use of the joint may worsen the situation. The pain may get aggravated in the later part of the day.
- Crunching Sensation: Once the cartilage is worn out, a sensation of grinding or crunching is sensed in the knee joint. It is associated with a bone grinding against another bone. A clicking or cracking sound can be heard during the movements.
- Limited Motion: Degeneration of the joint seriously affects the function of the joint. This results in restricted movement of the joint and pain. Difficulty in bending and strengthening the leg can be noticed.
- Difficulty to Use Stairs: Difficulty in climbing the stairs or difficulty while stepping down is one of the common knee arthritis symptoms.
- Deformity of Knee: Wearing away of the protective cartilage may expose the bone within the joint. Knock knees or bow legs are often noticed in the elderly, as the disease adversely affects the structure of the joint.
- Knee Stiffness: Stiffness in the knee joint upon waking up in the morning is an early symptom of arthritis. During day time, there can be some amount of improvement; but stiffened joint usually results in restricted movement and pain.
- Inflammation: Redness, swelling and tenderness around the affected joint can be noticed in any arthritic patient. The swollen knee is puffy to touch.
- Hard Bumps: Hard bumps can appear around the knee.
Home remedies like heat and cold therapy, hot baths or spas, massage with essential oils, and certain herbal medicines work great for arthritis. Knee replacement surgery has become quite common, but it should be the last option to treat arthritis. In case of mild pain and stiffness, regular exercise may help lower the symptoms. Changing the pattern and type of workout routine and wearing a light brace on the knee during exercise may help relieve the pain. Knee exercises are considered as a part of arthritis treatment. Aerobic exercises, especially water aerobics are used to treat arthritis. Overweight patients need to lose weight. Weight loss helps lower the pressure on the knees. The patients should consult a physician to know which foods to avoid and which to include in their regular diet. A specially designed arthritis diet helps manage the disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers help ease the pain and swelling.
People usually tend to ignore knee pain or difficulty in knee movement. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment help prevent worsening of the situation. If you are experiencing stiffness and pain in a knee, you should consult your physician as soon as possible. Following the instructions of the physician can help slow the advancing disease. Simple dietary and lifestyle changes, prompt medication, use of supplements, and regular exercise help control knee arthritis.