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Osteoarthritis of the knee
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but the most common areas affected are the knees, hips, and small joints in the hands. Often, you will only experience symptoms in one joint or a few joints at any one time.
If you have osteoarthritis in your knees, it is likely both your knees will be affected over time, unless it has occurred as the result of an injury or another condition affecting only one knee.
You will experience most painful when you walk, particularly when walking up or down stairs.
Sometimes, your knees may ‘give way’ beneath you or make it difficult to straighten your legs. You may also hear a soft, grating sound when you move the affected joint.
What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?
Osteoarthritis of the knee is most common if you’re in your late 50’s or older. Osteoarthritis is often thought of as wear and tear of your joints (gradually) over time. Osteoarthritis is more common and more severe in women. If you’re overweight this increases the chances of developing osteoarthritis and of it becoming gradually worse.
You are also more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee if your parents or siblings have had osteoarthritis, you’ve had a knee injury, you’ve had an operation on your knee or repairs to your cruciate ligaments, you do a hard, repetitive activity or a physically demanding job, you have another type of joint disease which has damaged your joints, for example rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
How is it treated?
The mainstay of treatment for osteoarthritis is pain relief such as paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory drug, if you can tolerate them. Stretching and strengthening the muscle around the joint with gentle exercises or physiotherapy can help. Injections of steroid or cortisone can occasionally be used. There are a number of different surgical procedures for Osteoarthritis such as partial or Total Knee Replacement and Osteotomy. These procedures can be highly successful. New techniques to resurface the joint with articular cartilage, replace menisci and realign the limb remain in the research phase but Mr Neil Bradbury will be happy to discuss them with you.
If you have severe pain from osteoarthritis or it has a significant impact on your life, your knee specialist may suggest you have surgery. Which type of surgery you’re offered will depend on your individual circumstances. This could an operation to replace part, or the whole, of your affected joint with an artificial one. Keyhole surgery or arthroscopy is rarely indicated for pure osteoarthritis but can be used if there are mechanical problems such as locking or catching due to loose bodies in the joint. Your knee consultant will discuss these options with you to help you make a decision that’s right for you.
Surgery may help to ease your pain if other treatments haven’t been effective for you. As with every procedure, there are some risks associated with having surgery for osteoarthritis.
For osteoarthritis sufferers a single protein injection, called Intra-Articular Protein Injection, harvested from a patient’s blood could replace the need for knee surgery.