Arthritis of the knee

NB: THIS PAGE REFERS TO OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE KNEE AND NOT RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Arthritis of the knee is wear and tear affecting the articular cartilage. It is quite common and up to 30% of people over the age of 65 years have arthritis in their knees.

The symptoms of arthritis include knee pain, swelling, and stiffness. At times, there is a change in shape of the knee. You may notice yourself becoming progressively more bow legged or knock kneed. Arthritis can also cause the knees to lock or give way.

The symptoms of arthritis may not be constant. You may experience periods of time with few or no symptoms at all as well as episodes of very severe symptoms. Over time, arthritis tends to get worse.

Arthritis is treated in a number of ways. Patients who are overweight will benefit from losing weight. More strenous impact activity may have to be modified and gentle exercise started. A physiotherapist will be able to guide you on a specific home exercise program to improve muscle function and combat joint stiffness. Medication should be taken on advice of your general practitioner. Ask your doctor if you will benefit from over the counter preparations like glucosamine.

There are a number of injectable preparations that can be administered into the knee in an outpatient setting depending on the severity of the arthritis.

Your surgeon may advise you to have an arthroscopy of the knee in certain cases such as to remove a loose bodywhich can cause painful locking of the knee.

In the most severe cases where there is extensive wear and tear of large portions of the knee, a total knee replacement may be considered.