ARTHRITIS OF THE KNEE
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. Arthritis of the knee causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the joint due to the break-down of cartilage within the knee joint. There are different types of arthritis that can affect the knee; however, the most common are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis - this type of arthritis is known as degenerative joint disease as it is caused by general “wear-and-tear" of the cartilage between the bones of the knee joint. Osteoarthritis often results in bone rubbing on bone.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis - this is a chronic disease that attacks the joints of the entire body, including the knee joint. It is an autoimmune disease that affects the synovial membrane that covers the knee joint, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
- Posttraumatic Arthritis - this type of arthritis develops after an injury to the joint. Damage the joint surface, meniscus or ligaments of the knee can lead to the development of arthritis over time.
Symptoms of arthritis will develop over time but may include:
- Inflammation and swelling of the knee joint
- Stiffness in the knee
- Weakness in the knee
- Pain in the knee joint that seems to be worse when it rains
- Warmth or redness over the joint
- Deformity of the joint
Treatment of arthritis in the knee may be aimed at lessening the related pain and preventing the symptoms from causing deformity and disability. This may involve pain and anti-inflammatory medications, knee support, weight loss, physical therapy and activity modification from high-impact exercises to low-impact ones. Furthermore, corticosteroid injections may be advised by Dr Pienaar to reduce inflammation in the knee joint and provide short-term pain relief.
In more severe cases, arthroscopy may be needed to identify the areas of damage, and tears in the meniscus within the knee joint may also be trimmed away. For suitable patients with severely damaged joints, a partial or total knee replacement may be advised to replace the damaged parts of the knee with artificial components to restore mobility.