There are over 100 types of arthritis, however, when it comes to the knee, the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition in which the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. It usually appears in aging adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and inflammatory condition that can occur at any age. It affects the whole body and can involve other joints and additional symptoms. 

Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may have their differences, however, for the most part, symptoms for both forms are as follows:

  • A gradual increase in pain
  • Swelling and tenderness in the knee area
  • Buckling and locking of the knee joint
  • Popping sounds in the knee when walking or bending
  • Poor range of motion

Treatment Options for Knee Arthritis

Your treatment options will depend on your individual needs including your medical history, level of pain, and the impact of OA on your daily life. Treatment usually includes a combination of therapies and lifestyle choices such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Taking medication for pain relief
  • Participating in alternative therapies such as acupuncture or occupational therapies
  • Using injectable steroids

If joint pain becomes severe, Dr. Hicken may recommend surgery. There are various surgical options for treating arthritis of the knee.

  • Arthroscopic surgery. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which Dr. Hicken uses an arthroscope, a type of camera, to view the inside of the knee. While doing so, he can also repair an injury or clean out debris, such as bone fragments, from the joint to better preserve healthy joint tissue.
  • Osteotomy. Osteotomy may help if you have early-stage OA of the knee that affects the bone on only one side of the joint. In this procedure, Dr. Hicken will cut and reshape the bone. This will take pressure off the injured part and correct the alignment of the bones. 
  • Total knee replacement. In a total knee replacement, Dr. Hicken removes the damaged tissue and bone and replaces the knee joint with an artificial joint. This can be done through open or minimally invasive surgery.

Preventing Knee Arthritis

Some causes of arthritis are beyond your control, like growing older, being female, or having a family history of arthritis. But you can take steps to reduce your risk of arthritis or delay its onset. Here’s how to keep your joints healthy as you age:

  • Stay at a healthy weight. Extra pounds put pressure on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. Each pound you gain adds nearly four pounds of stress on your knees and puts six times the pressure on your hips.
  • Control your blood sugar. High blood sugar can stiffen the tissue that supports your joints and make them more sensitive to stress.
  • Exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise five times a week helps joints stay limber and strengthens the muscles that support your knees and hips. Focus on low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming.
  • Stretch. Gentle stretching can improve your range of motion and keep your joints limber. Try to work in simple stretches every day.
  • Avoid injury. An injured joint is more likely to develop arthritis than one that was never injured. Wear protective gear when playing sports and always lift with your knees and hips, not your back. 
  • Quit smoking. Smoking puts stress on tissues that protect your joints and can lead to arthritis pain.
  • Eat fish twice a week. Eat fish high in Omega-3s, like salmon, trout, and mackerel. Omega-3s have many health benefits and may reduce inflammation.
  • Get routine preventive care. Your doctor may be able to suggest lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk or slow the progress of arthritis.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please contact Dr. Hicken. The earlier you seek treatment, the more likely it is to be effective. To schedule your appointment, give us a call at 435-787-2000.