Osteoarthritis of the knee is a ‘serious disability’ – treatments to relieve pain

Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition

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The knee is made up of the lower end of the femur (the thigh bone) and the upper end of the tibia (the shin bone), and the patella (the knee cap). At the meeting point of these bones is the articular cartilage. Experts at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons expanded on what the articular cartilage is. “[It’s a] smooth, slippery substance that protects and cushions the bones as you bend and straighten your knee,” the experts noted.

For people who have osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage gradually wears away.

During this deterioration process, the remaining articular cartilage becomes frayed and rough, leading to less and less protective space between the bones.

Eventually, bone will grind against bone and painful bone spurs will develop.

“Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time,” the experts added.

If you’re noticing pain in your knee, what can be done to help slow down the degenerative process?

First, recognise the signs of the “serious disability”, which may include:

  • Stiff and swollen joint, making it difficult to bend and straighten the knee
  • Pain and swelling that’s worse in the morning or after sitting or resting
  • Pain when doing vigorous activity
  • The knee locking or sticking during movement
  • The knee creaking, clicking, snapping, or making a grinding noise
  • Buckling in the knee
  • Increased joint pain with changes in weather.

Tell your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knee.

Diagnostic tests might include conducting a physical examination and X-rays or blood tests.

While there is no cure for arthritis, there are a number of treatments to help relieve pain.

To help protect the knee joint, it is recommended to switch from high-impact activities, such as jogging or tennis, to lower-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling.

Lower-impact activities will put less stress on the knee joint than jogging or tennis.

If you’re currently overweight, losing weight will be beneficial as less pressure will be placed on the knee joint.

“Specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as help strengthen the muscles in your leg,” the experts continued.

To get a specific plan for yourself, do visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Moreover, wearing shock-absorbing shoes or inserts can be useful, as can wearing a brace or knee sleeve.

When it comes to pain management, using heat pads or ice pads can be effective at easing painful symptoms.

This is also true of pain-relieving ointments or creams, in addition to painkillers.

More tailored medication can be prescribed by your doctor if painkillers are not effective enough.

“Your doctor may recommend surgery if your pain from arthritis causes disability and is not relieved with non-surgical treatment,” the experts added.

“As with all surgeries, there are some risks and possible complications with different knee procedures.”

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