A smooth, slippery, fibrous connective tissue called articular cartilage acts as a protective cushion between bones inside the joint. Arthritis develops as the cartilage begins to deteriorate or is lost because of wear and tear as part of aging or because of disease like Rheumatoid arthritis. As the articular cartilage is lost, joint space between the bones become narrow. This is an early sign of osteoarthritis and is easily seen on X-Rays. The synovium (a membrane that produces a thick fluid to nourish cartilage and keep it slippery) becomes inflamed and thickened. It may produce extra fluid that causes additional swelling. Slowly over time bone ends rub against each other and wear away. This results in the deformity of the joint. Normal activity becomes painful and difficult. Pain can even interfere with simple daily activities.
osteoarthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, some loss of joint motion, swelling, cracking sounds and changes in the shape of affected joints.
Who develops arthritis?
- Knee arthritis typically affects patients over 50 years of age
- It is more common in patients who are overweight, or suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis or Ankylosing spondylitis. In some patients arthritis tends to run in families.
- Other factors that can contribute to developing knee arthritis include injury to the knee, and fractures to the bone around the joint.
What is the treatment of knee arthritis?
- Knee should initially be treated with simpler methods to control knee pain and slow joint damage.
- Initial treatment includes pain killers, supplements (Glusoamines, chondritin), anti-inflammatory like Diacerin, cortisone, visco-supplements like hyaluronic acid, braces, weight control and physical therapy.
- If all these fail to produce satisfactory response, one should consider knee replacement as their last resort treatment.