For Patients Orthopaedic Surgery

Common Causes of Knee Arthritis and How to Treat Them

Written by Mr Rishi Chana for Doctify

Knee injuries are the worst. They are the bane of every runner’s life and once you develop an issue, it seems to result in a life-long problem requiring supports, rehab and sometimes even surgery.

Knee pain can also be caused by arthritis, which itself has many different causes and treatments. We have enlisted top orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Rishi Chana to tell us more about the causes, symptoms and treatments of knee arthritis.

What is knee arthritis?

Knee Arthritis is a combination of joint inflammation, swelling and cartilage degradation that leads to a painful, swollen joint. It can flare up, causing severe agony, stiffness and excess fluid which limits movement, walking and sleep. Knee arthritis can be limited to one or all three compartments within the knee.

What causes it?

There are different causes for your knee to become arthritic. The most common are:

Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis: This is a very common cause of knee pain and arthritis. It means that your previous knee injuries and operations have resulted in a gradual deterioration in the knee joint ending with bone on bone grinding pain. Another cause can be an active lifestyle or manual labour.

Familial Osteoarthritis: A family history of arthritis can contribute to you developing this serious but treatable condition. Genetic studies have shown links between genetics and arthritis.

Inflammatory Arthritis: As the name suggests, this causes joint damage as inflammation within the joint damages the delicate cartilages within the knee.

Can’t I just wait out the pain?

There is strong evidence to show that a delay in diagnosis and treatment for these conditions results in a worse outcome. If you have any doubt, it is better to see an expert who can reassure you or even prevent arthritis from setting in instead of wishing you had treatment earlier.

This is true for knee arthritis more than any other joint.

How are the specific causes of knee pain diagnosed?

The doctor will take a detailed history, the patient will be examined to check for evidence of cartilage or ligament damage and then, most likely, will be booked in for further tests. These often include:

X-Ray: This is a simple test and often used to look at the knee for signs of arthritis and tell us which parts of the knee are affected.

MRI Scan: This is used in to examine and look at the soft tissues, cartilage and fluid within the knee joint.This is especially useful in patients with fairly normal x-ray findings as you need to lose 50% of the cartilage before it appears on a plain x-ray.

Blood Tests: Simple blood tests can help diagnose inflammatory arthritis and may mean that medical (tablet) treatment help and potentially can save you from having an operation.

And the treatment?

Common treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Over the counter or prescription pain medications
  • Low impact daily exercises
  • Offloading Knee Brace Orthotics
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight Loss Program
  • Injections for targeting and treating the source of pain
  • Knee replacement/reconstruction surgery



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