Arthritis in the Knee: What You Need to Know

Arthritis of the knee can make taking a step painful. Swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joint are just some of the symptoms that can occur when a person has this condition.

The knee joint is a hinge joint, named for its movement that’s similar to the opening and closing of a door.

The joint consists of three main bones. The areas where each of these bones meet are covered in a protective material called cartilage. Additional pieces of cartilage known as the meniscus further support the knee.

All of these protective pieces of cartilage keep the bones in the knee from rubbing together, which can be very painful.

The daily demands on the knee and its potential for injury make it a common source for arthritis damage. Different types of arthritis exist, and the type determines which treatment a physician recommends.

Types of arthritis of the knee

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 100 arthritis types. Some types are more common in the knee than others.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of knee arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the result of a wearing away of the protective cartilage over the bones.

As a result, the bones of the knee start to rub against each other. This causes bone spurs to develop on the ends of the bones. Bone spurs are painful and can limit a person’s movement.

Post-traumatic arthritis

Old injuries to the knee and surrounding joints can continue to affect a person and cause post-traumatic arthritis. This condition occurs after a person has experienced an injury.

These injuries cause extra wear to the knee joint, leading to osteoarthritis. Painful swelling in the knee joint can occur as a result.

Gouty arthritis

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes uric acid crystals to deposit in the joints, including the knee joints. Uric acid is a waste product that forms when body tissues break down.

The crystals are like tiny needles to the knee joint, leading to inflammation that causes pain and swelling.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. This means the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.

The condition tricks the body into thinking healthy tissues, like protective cartilage, are harmful. As a result, the immune system destroys and damages these tissues. This can eventually destroy the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause joint swelling and soften the knee bones.

Causes of arthritis of the knee

Each type of arthritis in the knee has different causes. For example, osteoarthritis is considered a “wear-and-tear” condition. This means that use of the knee joint eventually wears out the cartilage and ligaments. Osteoarthritis usually affects those older than age 50 because it involves overuse.

Gouty arthritis may be linked to several causes. These include:

  • Aging
  • Family history of the condition
  • Gender – men more commonly have gout than women
  • Obesity – overweight people have more tissue that can be broken down into uric acid
  • Certain medications

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis. However, the condition seems to have a genetic component.

Post-traumatic arthritis occurs due to a previous injury to the knee joint. According to the Cleveland Clinic, an estimated 12 percent of patients with knee, hip, or ankle osteoarthritis have post-traumatic arthritis… Read More>>

Source: Medical News Today

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