What is Knee Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term covering numerous conditions where the joint surface or cartilage wears out. The joint surface is covered by a smooth articular surface that allows pain-free movement in the joint. This surface can wear out for several reasons; often the definite cause is not known. Arthritis often affects the knee joint.
When the articular cartilage wears out, the bone ends rub on one another and cause pain. This condition is referred to as Osteoarthritis or "wear and tear" arthritis, as it occurs with aging and use. It is the most common type of arthritis.
Causes of Knee Arthritis
There are numerous conditions that can cause arthritis but often the exact cause is never known. In general, but not always, it affects people as they get older (Osteoarthritis).
The causes include:
- Trauma (fracture)
- Increased stress such as overuse and overweight
- Infection of the bone
- Connective tissue disorders
- Inactive lifestyle and obesity (overweight). Your weight is the single most important link between diet and arthritis, as being overweight puts an additional burden on your hips, knees, ankles and feet.
- Inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis)
Symptoms of Knee Arthritis
Knee arthritis causes pain and decreased mobility of the knee joint. In the arthritic knee, there is an absent joint space that shows on X-ray. In the normal knee, there is a normal joint space.
The cartilage lining is thinner than normal or completely absent. The degree of cartilage damage and inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis. The capsule of the arthritic knee is swollen. The joint space is narrowed and irregular in outline; this can be seen in an X-ray image. Bone spurs or excessive bone can also build up around the edges of the joint. The combinations of these factors make the arthritic knee stiff and limit activities due to pain or fatigue.