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Archive for the ‘About Knee Osteoarthritis’ Category

Menopause can be linked to the onset and progression of osteoarthritis.   (menopause and OA study)

Women suffer from osteoarthritis more than men, and it is more prevalent after menopause.  Women have more joints involved with OA, more symptoms, and more severe cases.  Studies suggest that the loss of estrogen during menopause increases OA risk factors.  When women’s estrogen levels decrease their joints suffer, specifically the hands and knees.

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Stage 4 – Severe

The pain is severe.  Walking anywhere hurts.  This is the most advanced stage of knee osteoarthritis.  There’s not much cartilage left, if any.  There’s very little fluid remaining in the knee.  The joint space has narrowed to the point where an x-ray will show bone-on-bone.  The legs may be bowed or pigeon-toed depending on what side of the knee is most impacted.  The remaining treatment options all involve surgery.   Joint replacement is common.

 



Stage 3 Knee Osteoarthritis – Moderate

Daily activities are starting to hurt.  The arthritis has your attention.  Walking, bending down, running, kneeling can all cause your knee to hurt.

The knee will probably be inflamed and swollen.  Damage to the cartilage is obvious.  The joint space is narrowing.   The cartilage is thinning and eroding.  The bones begin expanding, becoming thicker, responding to the changes in cartilage.  Lumps on the bone form.  All this drama impacts the tissue lining the joint.  This is where the fluid and inflammation come from.

Treatments get a bit more serious.  We move into NSAID’s, cortisone, physical therapy, and supplement injections.



Stage 2 – Mild

Stage 2 is where symptoms start to develop.  A knee may start to get achy if a person sits for a long time, walks too much, or spends the whole day on their feet.  Stiffness and joint pain are common complaints.

Bone lumps and thinning cartilage can be seen on X-rays or MRIs.  The joint space will remain normal and the bones are not rubbing or scraping against one another.

Exercise and weight loss are still the primary treatment options.  Arthritis knee braces are also recommended.  An arthritis knee brace can help stabilize and protect the knee joint.



Stages of Knee OA

It takes many years to develop osteoarthritis of the knee – one step at a time.  The degradation of the cartilage can be tough to treat because the damage is usually done by the time it’s diagnosed.  Symptoms might only be experienced once the damage is irreversible.

There are progressive stages of knee osteoarthritis:

Stage 0 – A normal, healthy knee

The knee joint shows no sign of OA, and can move freely and without pain.

Stage 1 – Minor

Bone spurs may start to appear.  The cartilage may show some sign of wear.  There is no sign of joint space narrowing.  Pain or discomfort is rarely felt at this stage.

Your doctor may recommend exercise and weight loss, possibly some supplements.

 



Mall Walkers

This is the final article in a three part series of posts about the benefits of exercise for a knee suffering from osteoarthritis.

Strengthening, stretching, and exercising an arthritic knee has many benefits.  One of everybody’s favorites is weight loss.  Exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose weight.  The more weight you lose the less stress you’ll put on your knee.  The effect of weight loss has an incremental effect.  Every pound you lose decreases the pressure on your knees by three pounds.  It’s a 3:1 ratio.  The less stress on your knees, the less they will hurt.  The less your knees hurt the more easily it will be to move around.   Get the picture?

Strong and limber muscles will also help you maintain your activities of daily living.  What do you like to do?  If your answer is sit on the couch and watch television then these posts were probably a waste of your time.  But if you like to walk, go places, work, participate in sports and recreational activities then get up and get moving.  The more you do so, the easier it’s going to get.



Standing calf stretch

Strengthening, stretching, and exercising the knee will help provide pain relief for knees suffering from osteoarthritis.  This is the second part of three posts on this subject.

Exercise can also help support healthy cartilage.  Healthy cartilage requires motion and some stress.  Nutrients and lubrication are delivered to cartilage whenever it is used.  Synovial fluid moves in and out of knee cartilage every time you take a step.  If you don’t move, neither does the synovial fluid.  Imagine the difference between drinking water from a crisp clear babbling brook or a stagnant pond.  What do you think will be better for you?

Cartilage is like a sponge.  Keeping the synovial fluid moving through it keeps the sponge moist and supple.  Think of the sponge that dries out on your sink.  It gets crumbly and starts to deteriorate.  The same is true with your knee cartilage.



Knee Trauma

A knee injury can lead to post-traumatic knee arthritis.  A break in the tibia, fibula, or femur may damage the joint surface and lead to arthritis years after the injury. It depends on the severity of the injury.  Meniscal tears and ligament injuries can lead to an unstable knee joint, and additional wear on the cartilage, which can result in arthritis as the months and years pass.

 



Obesity linked with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis has several common risk factors.  Some of the risk factors you can change, some you can’t.

  1. Obesity – The more extra weight you carry the more stress you put on your knees.  Weight loss is one of the best ways to reduce your knee pain associated with osteoarthritis.
  2. Infection – An infection in your knee can destroy or weaken cartilage.
  3. Occupation – Do you squat, kneel, or bend a lot at work.  Repetitive stress on the knee joint can increase your likelihood of developing knee OA.
  4. Age – OA is “wear and tear” arthritis.  The older you are, the more you’ve used your knees.
  5. Gender – The shape of women’s hips make them more likely to develop knee OA.
  6. Genes – A family history of arthritis can mean you have a higher risk of arthritis hurting your knees.

 

 

 



Osteophytes

Bone spurs or osteophytes are lumps of bone that grow on bones around the knee joint.  Osteophytes often grow beside joints affected by osteoarthritis.  Bone spurs can form on any bone and are most common in the neck.

Bone spurs don’t always cause symptoms, but can cause knee pain if they rub against bone or tissue, restrict movement, or affect nerves.

Osteophytes can reduce range of motion in the knee.  Knee pain relief caused by osteoarthritis.

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