Knee arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

 is inflammation in the joints or area of the body where two bones come together. Joints are responsible for the movement of body parts. It is a condition that can be experienced all over the body or in a specific area. The types range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

, such as osteoarthritis to those associated with inflammation
Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Inflammation is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process...

 resulting from an overactive immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The one part of the body that is most affected by arthritis is the knee and it can suffer from both rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis of the knee

Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

 is a chronic inflammatory disorder that most typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. This form of arthritis is the most common and is found in the same areas as RA. It worsens over time and as with RA, there is no cure. RA tampers with the lining of the joints and causes swelling that is painful and can lead to joint deformity in the body. It begins by attacking the smaller joints of the body and progresses into the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. Most cases will see the condition affect both knees. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, red and puffy hands, and fatigue.

Osteoarthritis of the knee

Osteoarthritis also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a group of mechanical abnormalities involving degradation of joints, including articular cartilage and subchondral bone. Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, locking, and sometimes an effusion...

 is a joint disease that causes the cushion layer between your bones, or cartilage to wear away. It is also called degenerative joint disease. Symptoms are similar to RA and develop in the same slow manner. They include pain, tenderness in the knee, stiffness when standing or walking, loss of flexibility, and grating sensations that can be heard when the knee joint is used.

Osteoarthritis in the knee begins with the gradual deterioration of cartilage. Without the protective cartilage, the bones begin to rub together, causing pain, loss of mobility, and deformity. It affects approximately 16 million people. The majority of arthritis cases involving the knee are osteoarthritic cases.


It is not always sure why arthritis of the knee develops. Most physicians believe that it is a combination of factors that can include muscle weakness
Muscle weakness
Muscle weakness or myasthenia is a lack of muscle strength. The causes are many and can be divided into conditions that have true or perceived muscle weakness...

, obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

, heredity, joint injury or stress, and aging. Cartilage in the knee begins to break down and leaves the bones of the knee rubbing against each other as you walk. Persons who work in a place that applies repetitive stress on the knees are at a high risk of developing this condition. Bone deformities increase the risk for osteoarthritis of the knee since the joints are already malformed and may contain defective cartilage. Having gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget's disease
Paget's disease of bone
Paget's disease is a chronic disorder that can result in enlarged and misshapen bones. The excessive breakdown and formation of bone tissue causes affected bone to weaken, resulting in pain, misshapen bones, fractures, and arthritis in the joints near the affected bones...

 of bone or septic arthritis
Septic arthritis
Septic arthritis is the purulent invasion of a joint by an infectious agent which produces arthritis. People with artificial joints are more at risk than the general population but have slightly different symptoms, are infected with different organisms and require different treatment. Septic...

 can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Some physicians and most podiatrist believe that Pes Planus (flat feet) cause increased rates and earlier incidence of knee osteoarthritis. In a study of army recruits with moderate to severe flat feet, the results showed that they had almost double the rate of knee arthritis when compared to recruits with normal arches.


Depending on the level of pain and damage suffered by a patient, a physician will recommend a treatment regimen that will relieve symptoms. Some of the most common recommendations include avoiding activities that make the pain worse, ice the knee for 20 to 30 minutes throughout the day to reduce inflammation, use over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and physical therapy.

Topical creams and patches can also be used for pain treatment and they have been proven to reduce pain by 33 to 57%.

Exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility as well as help strengthen the muscles in the leg. Physical therapy
Physical therapy
Physical therapy , often abbreviated PT, is a health care profession. Physical therapy is concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, diagnosis, treatment/intervention,and rehabilitation...

 and exercise are often effective in reducing pain and improving function. Working with a physical therapist to find exercises that promote function without risking further injury is effective for most patients. Many of the exercises used can be performed while sitting in a chair or standing in place. They are performed so that additional stress or weight is not placed on the knee joint. Water exercises are highly recommended along with the use of elastic bands.

Supportive devices like knee braces can be used. In most cases, the arthritis is centered on a single side of the knee, so braces are effective in providing stability to one side. Two different forms of braces are available. A support brace provides the aid the entire knee requires, where an up-loader brace shifts the pressure away from the specific part of the knee that is experiencing the pain. Shoes or inserts that are considered to be energy absorbing are found useful for some patients as well as walking devices like a cane. Shoe insoles that are fitted to correct flat feet have provided relief to many patients.

The use of oral steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines help to reduce the amount of inflammation and pain felt in the knee. If over the counter medicines like ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for relief of symptoms of arthritis, fever, as an analgesic , especially where there is an inflammatory component, and dysmenorrhea....

 or naproxen
Naproxen sodium is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used for the reduction of pain, fever, inflammation and stiffness caused by conditions such as:...

 are not strong enough, prescription strength medicines are used. If oral medicine and physical therapy don't help your knee enough, your doctor may consider giving you an injection with pain medicine. Hyaluronic acid is present in the knee, but injections of it can be used to protect the joint when the cartilage becomes thinner and can't do it alone. These injections can provide more pain relief than oral medications lasting from six months to a year.

Surgery is the final option but may be required to relieve symptoms. Arthroscopy
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an examination and sometimes treatment of damage of the interior of a joint is performed using an arthroscope, a type of endoscope that is inserted into the joint through a small incision...

 is performed through tiny cuts where damaged parts of the knee can be removed. Osteotomy
An osteotomy is a surgical operation whereby a bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or change its alignment. It is sometimes performed to correct a hallux valgus, or to straighten a bone that has healed crookedly following a fracture. It is also used to correct a coxa vara, genu valgum, and genu varum...

 is performed to reshape the bones in the knee and is only performed if one side of the knee is damaged. Arthroplasty
Arthroplasty is an operative procedure of orthopedic surgery performed, in which the arthritic or dysfunctional joint surface is replaced with something better or by remodeling or realigning the joint by osteotomy or some other procedure.-Background:Previously, a popular form of arthroplasty was...

is a replacement surgery where an artificial joint is used.
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