What is arthritis of the knee?
Arthritis of the knee is when parts of the joint become worn out and start to degenerate. Arthritis particularly affects the cartilage inside the joint, which normally acts as a shock absorber in the knee. This can result in pain, stiffness and swelling, which can have a big impact on your everyday activities, particularly walking.
What causes arthritis of the knee?
The following are the main risk factors for developing arthritis in your knee:
- Increasing age, as it is a degenerative condition
- Previous joint injury to the cartilage or ligaments around your knee
- A family history of arthritis
- Being overweight.
How is arthritis of the knee diagnosed?
Arthritis of the knee can be initially diagnosed during a consultation with a clinical examination. This is usually confirmed with an x-ray that assesses the severity of the arthritis.
Treatment and recovery
There can be several treatment options for knee arthritis, depending on the severity of your arthritis and strategies that you have already tried.
Mild or early stages of arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis) can be managed well with physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory and pain-killer medications, appropriate exercise and weight loss.
Following this, injections into your joint can help to relieve pain and increase range of movement. These injections can contain steroids, hyaluronic acid or biological treatments. The effectiveness and longevity of benefits with these injections tends to vary from person to person.
Finally, there are several surgical options if you have severe pain or limitations from arthritis of the knee to relieve symptoms. These include:
- Partial knee replacement – this aims to replace half of the joint, and is useful if you have bad arthritis on one side of your knee. This surgery is less invasive than a total knee replacement, and is followed by a 1-2 night stay in hospital and 4-12 weeks of physiotherapy
- Total knee replacement – this surgery involves removing the top of your shin bone and bottom of your thigh bone that make up the knee joint (these become damaged in arthritis) and replacing them with a metal joint prosthesis. You will need to stay in hospital for 3-4 days and complete 6-12 weeks of physiotherapy
- Knee revision surgery – this is for those who have already had a knee replacement. After 15-20 years, the joint prostheses can become worn out and require re-replacing. Sometimes this surgery can be necessary sooner due to infection or loosening of the prosthesis. This surgery requires a 3-4 night stay in hospital and 6-12 weeks of physiotherapy
- Custom knee replacement – some patients will require a bespoke joint prosthesis designed from 3D scans of the existing joint to create a custom knee replacement that will fit their own anatomy
For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.