Knee Osteoarthritis: Causes and Treatment Options

Knee osteoarthritis results from a thinning of the articular cartilage, which lubricates adjacent bone surfaces. This leads to pain and difficulty in walking or climbing and descending stairs.

What Is Knee Osteoarthritis? 

In knee osteoarthritis (OA knee), the articular cartilage (the smooth, thin lubricating layer covering the ends of the bones that form the knee joint) wears away. In severe cases of OA knee, the bones may rub directly against each other with minimal lubrication, leading to pain and disability.  

Diagnosis of OA knee is usually determined with the patient's medical history and X-rays. Sometimes, blood and joint fluid tests are required to exclude systemic diseases. 

Common Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis

Several factors are likely to contribute to the development of OA knee:  
Previous knee injury 
Excessive wear and tear of knee joints from high-impact activities 
Increasing age 
Being overweight 
Tight lower limb muscles 
Weak lower limb muscles 
In certain cases, the cause of OA knee could be unknown 

Signs and Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee pain that develops gradually, and worsens with prolonged walking or standing 
Morning stiffness and/or swelling 
Crepitus (cracking or grinding noise) with knee movements 
Apperance of bumps or nodes around the knee 

Risk Factors for Knee Osteoarthritis

Being overweight 
Prolonged involvement in high-impact, weight-bearing activities 

Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs 


Reduce pain and swelling
Improve range of movement through stretching and strengthening exercises     
Stretching exercises: quadriceps stretching, hamstring stretching and calf stretching     
Strengthening exercises: targeting the quadriceps, hip muscles and buttock muscles
Regain functional movement — movement control training, body weight control, modification of daily activties to allow functional movement as much as possible 


When conservative management fails to improve the condition, invasive interventions can be explored: 
Arthroscopic surgery 
Total knee replacement surgery 

Self-care Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis  

If you are overweight, manage your body weight to reduce the weight borne by your knees
Strengthen lower limbs to cope with daily activities
Apply an ice pack whenever you experience swelling after prolonged standing or walking

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