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OA Signs And Symptoms

September 11, 2012

Knee Pain

Osteoarthritis refers to inflammation of a joint and its surrounding bone.  It often results from the accumulation of mechanical stress on the joint.  In most cases, there is degradation of the articular cartilage in the joint.  Articular cartilage is important because it is slick, and lets joints move with very little friction (less than ice rubbing against ice).  Articular cartilage lets a healthy joint move smoothly, and also has a limited role as a shock absorber.  In people with osteoarthritis, swelling in the joint increases pressure on the cartilage and can lead to break down.  Once the surface of the cartilage is broken, friction rapidly increases and the cartilage may wear away.  This is why OA can often be classified as degenerative.

Knee pain can often result from osteoarthritis.  As the osteoarthritis gets worse, the cartilage becomes less effective at reducing friction when the knee bends.  This is particularly problematic when the knee is supporting body weight.  Eventually, all of the cartilage in the knee may rub off, resulting in direct bone on bone contact.  This can significantly increase knee pain.

Knee pain from osteoarthritis is often treated with non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil or Tylenol.  Knee braces are also an effective treatment option because they can help “unload” the knee joint.  This reduces the stress and pressure on the joint surfaces, and can prevent the bones in the knee joint from rubbing against one another.  Osteoarthritis can also be treated with cortisone injections.  Mild forms of osteoarthritis may be effectively treated with rest, ice, elevation and compression.

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