What Is Knee Arthritis?
There are three major types of arthritis which can cause knee pain: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Post-Traumatic Arthritis. Dr. Backe treats all of these.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis, affecting more than 10 million Americans. It occurs when the articular cartilage (the protective cushioning between bones) deteriorates, which is caused by wear and tear on the joints from the weight of the body. As the condition worsens and more articular cartilage is lost, there is less joint space between the bones, causing the surrounding bones to react by becoming thicker. The deterioration of this cartilage is accelerated by injuries (fractures, ligament tears, and meniscal injuries), obesity, and a history of problems with the subchondral bone (the bone beneath the cartilage).
Also referred to as ‘degenerative arthritis’, osteoarthritis is most prevalent among elderly patients with active lifestyles. The condition worsens over time because cartilage has no ability to fully heal itself. As a result, pain in the joints increases. Among those younger than 45, osteoarthritis occurs more often in males. However, the condition strikes more females 55+ and approximately 60 percent of osteoarthritis cases are among women.
Orthopedic surgeons, such as Dr. Backe, typically will use x-rays to diagnose osteoarthritis by enabling the doctor to see indication of joint space narrowing. Some cases may also require an MRI to provide a more detailed image. The best treatment for this type of arthritis at its early stage is to rest and refrain from certain high impact physical activities.
Although rheumatoid arthritis can affect patients of any age, it usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50. It often occurs in a symmetrical pattern and is present in both knees or hips. Approximately 1.3 million Americans are affected by this illness, with 75 percent of cases occurring in women.
Inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis can severely injure the joint cartilage. This type of arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, which is an illness that occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks its healthy tissues. As a result, the joints become severely swollen and rigid, and patients often have a hard time moving (while getting dressed, tying shoelaces, walking) without experiencing intense pain. Other symptoms include fever and fatigue.
Rheumatoid arthritis can permanently damage the affected joints if not slowed or stopped. Therefore, it is crucial to see an experienced rheumatologist doctor to detect and treat rheumatoid arthritis early. In treating rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Backe will take an x-ray of the joints and, in some cases, an MRI is also used to identify additional joint damage or destruction.
Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after an injury to the joint in which the bone and cartilage were damaged. As a result, the cartilage cells eventually deteriorate. The articular cartilage separates from the joint and bone and breaks up into tiny pieces. These small cartilage pieces, which do not grow back, float around and cause severe pain and joint stiffness.
This disease can affect the patient for a long period of time and may not surface until several years after the injury is sustained. Injuries that often lead to post-traumatic arthritis include a fracture, ligament injury, or meniscus tear. Post-traumatic arthritis worsens over time with everyday wear and tear. While symptoms include severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and internal bleeding, some patients may not have any signs of distress on the skin’s surface, making this condition difficult to diagnose.
What Are The Symptoms of Arthritis The of Knee?
If you have any of the following symptoms of hip osteoarthritis, talk to your doctor:
- Joint stiffness that occurs as you are getting out of bed
- Joint stiffness after you sit for a long time
- Any pain, swelling, or tenderness in the hip joint
- A sound or feeling (“crunching”) of bone rubbing against bone
- Inability to move the hip to perform routine activities such as putting on your socks
What Are The Treatment Option For Knee Arthritis?
Dr. Backe recommends that hip arthritis treatment begins with basic steps and a progression to the more involved options, including surgery, if needed. Some of those steps may include weight loss and activity modification. Sometimes a walking aid, like a cane, can help relieve pressure on the hips and provide some relief.