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EBM News

Osteoarthritis (Knee Osteoarthritis): Causes, Symptoms

Arthritis is a common condition that affects more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children, as per the Arthritis Foundation. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and one of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which we are going to discuss in this article.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis that mostly affects the bones, cartilage and the synovium in the knee joint. Osteoarthritis most often occurs in people who are above 50 and older, but it may also occur in younger people.

Stages Of Osteoarthritis

• Stage 1 – In this stage, the individual shows a very minor bone spur growth and will not experience any pain or discomfort due to the minor wear of the joint.

• Stage 2 – It is a mild stage of the condition. People may start experiencing symptoms such as pain after a long day of walking or running, stiffness in the joint or tenderness in the joint when bending or kneeling.

• Stage 3 – In this stage, the cartilage between the bones are damaged and the space between the bones begin to narrow. People may experience pain when walking, running, bending or kneeling and joint stiffness after sitting for a longer period of time.

• Stage 4 – This is a severe stage. People may experience great pain when they walk or move the joint because the cartilage is almost gone and the synovial fluid is decreased drastically.

Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis

• Swelling

• An increase in joint pain when active and when at rest the pain decreases.

• Warmth feeling in the joint

• Stiffness in the knee.

• Decrease in knee mobility like difficulty in getting in and out of the car, difficulty in sitting or getting up from the chair or difficulty while using the stairs.

• When the knee moves there is a creaking sound.

• Bone spurs (a bony growth that develops along the edges of a bone) .

Risk Factors Of Osteoarthritis

The most common risk factor of osteoarthritis is age [1]. However, there are other risk factors too, which include the following:

• Obesity – If a person is obese, he/she has the highest possibility of getting osteoarthritis. Maintain your weight to lower the risk [3].

• Gender – Women are more likely to get osteoarthritis as compared to men [1]. The reason being, women who are in their menopause often gain weight and this can increase the stress on the joints.

• Heredity – Individuals born with bone diseases or genetic traits can develop osteoarthritis.

• Repetitive stress injuries – Individuals who perform daily activities like kneeling, squatting or lifting heavy weights can cause stress in the joint.

• Athletics – Athletes involved in tennis, soccer or long-distance running may also develop osteoarthritis.

• Other illnesses – Rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, abnormal joints at birth and repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structures.

Diagnosis Of Osteoarthritis

The doctor will conduct a physical examination and check your knees for tenderness, swelling and pain. After which the doctor orders some diagnostic tests that need to be done. These include the following:

• X-rays – An X-ray is done to check whether there are any bone spurs around a joint [4].

• MRI – MRI scans show detailed images of bone and cartilage. It can help detect early symptoms of osteoarthritis [4].

• Joint fluid tests – The doctor uses a needle to take out fluid from an affected joint, which is then tested for inflammation. This test is done to determine whether your pain is caused by gout or any other infection.

• Blood tests – Blood tests can rule out other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and gout.