Knee Osteoarthritis is one of the most common and debilitating joint disorders diagnosed today. Millions suffer from the resulting disability and pain.
What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition of the weight-bearing joints (such as the knees). Generally, it affects individuals over 50 years of age and is usually unilateral, involving only one knee. In some cases, however, both knees are involved. As we age the protective knee cartilage erodes, allowing bone to rub against bone, resulting in pain and swelling of the knee joint.
In some cases, osteoarthritis may have an underlying genetic factor that affects cartilage development and the shape of the articulating bones. Research has demonstrated that osteoarthritis tends to run in families.
Signs and symptoms:
The process of cartilage erosion is slow but progressive. The signs and symptoms include:
- knee pain that worsens after any activity as simple as walking;
- tender knees that may be swollen and hot to the touch due to an active inflammatory response;
- stiffness of the knee joint, especially pronounced in the morning hours after waking up but improves with activity;
- restricted range of motion that greatly limits flexibility and locomotion;
- a grating sensation felt when bone strikes bone because the protective cartilage has thinned;
- bone spurs may form further aggravating pain and limiting locomotion.
How does it develop?
All weight-bearing joints are supported and protected by cartilaginous cushions that protect the bony surfaces from damage and friction-related injuries. Eventually, natural wear and tear of life erodes the protective cartilage, leaving no cushioning for articulating bony surfaces.
The following factors aggravate the damage to the cartilage and increases the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee joint:
- advancing age and the cumulative wear and tear on the knee joint;
- obesity increases stress on the knees, accelerating the wear and tear factor;
- post-menopausal females become more vulnerable than males of the same age;
- prior history of joint diseases, malformations or joint injuries as a result of trauma ;
- any injury that damages the ligaments of the knee joint aggravates the cartilage destruction;
- hormonal aberration like diabetes, thyroid disorders and disorders of parathyroid gland can add stress to the knee joint, increasing the potential of developing knee-osteoarthritis;
- occupational factors requiring excessive bending, lifting and over-use of the knee increase the stress or strain on the knee joint and lead to elevated cartilaginous damage;
- certain lifestyle factors such as alcoholism and inactivity also affect cartilaginous damage by interfering with the blood supply to the knee joint.
For a personalized assessment of your knees by one of our Toronto Physiotherapists please call 416-900-6653 Today!