Arthritis and How It Can Affect Your Knees
When you have arthritis, the knees are often one of the areas most affected.
In some sufferers, it becomes serious enough to warrant a knee replacement of one or even both knees. But in others, doing the right sort of exercise can be extremely helpful.
Arthritis in the knees
Unfortunately, arthritis causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, even affecting the largest and strongest joints in your body.
Although there is no actual cure for knee arthritis, there are steps you can take to help ease the symptoms and potentially slow its progression.
What is the knee joint?
Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include:
- The thighbone (femur)
- The shinbone (tibia) and
- The kneecap (patella)
There is a smooth substance (known as cartilage) covering the ends of each bone and helping to act as a cushion between the bones, keeping them from rubbing together. It is the synovial membrane (a type of tissue that surrounds the joint) that lubricates the cartilage.
What types of arthritis affect the knee?
- Osteoarthritis is the most common, wearing your cartilage — the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs and the bad news is that osteoarthritis gets worse as time passes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is another type of osteoarthritis where the cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee (like an injury from a car crash or contact sport). When the bones rub together this causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can be many years after the trauma to your knee that symptoms start to appear.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is the third type and known as an automimmune disease. The problem arises when a healthy immune system causes inflammation (internal or external) when it's trying to protect you from an infection, injury, toxin or another foreign invader. The inflammatory response is one way your body protects itself. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you have an unhealthy immune system that triggers inflammation in your joints even though there’s no foreign invader. The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the synovial membrane, which can also wear away your cartilage.
What are the risk factors of arthritis of the knee?
Researchers have identified some genes that might cause arthritis, including arthritis of the knee. They point out that you could have a gene linked to arthritis without knowing it - and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis of the knee.
Risk factors of osteoarthritis include:
Bone anomalies. If you have bones or joints that are naturally crooked, you are at higher risk.
Gout which is a type of inflammatory arthritis could lead to osteoarthritis.
Injuries such as knee injuries.
Stress. This can be when there is a lot of stress on your knees from jogging, playing sports or working an active job.
Being overweight as this puts more pressure on your knees.
What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis of the knee?
- Creaking, clicking, grinding or snapping noises (crepitus).
- Difficulty walking.
- Joint pain that changes (gets better or worse) depending on the weather.
- Joint stiffness.
- Knee buckling.
- Knee joint pain that progresses slowly or pain that happens suddenly.
- Skin redness.
- Swelling which can cause your knee to look larger.
- Your knee locks or sticks when it’s trying to move.
- Warm skin.
Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of arthritis of the knee.
Managing the symptoms of arthritis in the knees
Arthritis in your knee will likely always affect you. But some treatments help reduce the severity of the symptoms and may keep the disease from getting worse.
It is important to remember that if you can build up the muscles around the joints in your knees, you will help to protect those joints from future pain and swelling. Here are two links to videos on Instagram which actually demonstrate exercises you can do at home. This is the first one. And here is the second one. Simple to do and take just a few minutes of your time every day!
The following tips can also be helpful:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Exercising using low-impact activities (such as swimming or cycling) in place of high-impact activities (such as jogging or tennis). Ideally, exercise for one hundred and fifty minutes per week.
- Wearing shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes.
- Applying heat or ice to the area.
- Wearing a knee sleeve or brace.
- Following a program of thigh muscle (quadriceps) exercises.
- Carrying out physical therapy exercises that help with flexibility, strength and motion.
- Using a cane if you feel the need.
- Undergoing physiotherapy which can help you to manage pain while helping you to improve strength and flexibility.
- Trying acupuncture.
- Applying our H-Arthritis Formula for safe, natural and rapid relief from arthritis pain while even helping to prevent arthritis symptoms of discomfort and stiffness.
Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages and in some sufferers, can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms meaning that any pain and swelling can be reduced.
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for arthritis. (n.d.).
Bernstein S. (n.d.). Benefits of massage.
How stress affects arthritis. (n.d.).
Rheumatoid arthritis: In depth. (2019).