Knee Arthritis Overview
The knee is considered the strongest and largest joint in the human body. The knee joint allows an individual to participate in athletic activities, perform work-related movements and enjoy everyday activities. Cartilage lines the ends of the bones throughout the human body, allowing the bones to glide smoothly and pain-free over each other. Cartilage does not have its own blood supply so it does not have the natural ability to heal itself as it degenerates or after an injury. When the cartilage lining the ends of the bones in the knee starts to wear down from overuse or the natural aging process, arthritis of the knee sets in, commonly known as osteoarthritis. This knee cartilage degeneration and injury causes patients to experience pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. Greater Los Angeles orthopedic knee specialist, Dr. Mark Getelman with offices in Thousand Oaks and Van Nuys is fellowship trained and highly experienced at diagnosing and treating knee arthritis.
Knee arthritis develops over time and symptoms can increase as the condition progresses. As the cartilage wears down, it becomes rough and frayed and the protective space between the bones decreases. This often leads to bone rubbing against bone, eventually leading to painful bone spurs in some patients.
Knee Arthritis Symptoms
The hallmark symptoms of knee arthritis include pain, inflammation, swelling and decreased range of motion. In many patients, the pain associated with this knee cartilage injury is worse after vigorous activity, after sitting for an extended period of time or first thing in the morning. The knee joint may also lock during movement or have a creaking, clicking or grinding noise (crepitus). In severe cases of arthritis of the knee, loose fragments of cartilage (loose bodies) may break off and interfere with normal knee function.
Knee Arthritis Diagnosis
In order to reach a knee arthritis diagnosis, Dr. Getelman will perform a thorough physical examination and review a patient’s medical history and symptoms. He will examine the affected knee for joint swelling, warmth, redness, tenderness, range of motion, instability and pain. He will also perform a set of X-rays to examine the joint’s structure for a knee cartilage injury and/or other knee injury. An MRI if not typically needed to make the diagnosis of osteoarthritis.