Osteoarthritis Knee Pain Treatment

Osteoarthritis (OA) Knee Pain Treatment & Surgery

Knee arthritis, which is also known as osteoarthritis, is a painful condition known worldwide as “wear and tear” arthritis. It is a progressive disease of the joints. While aged people have a higher risk of having the condition, young people can also suffer from it too. This may be because of factors like being overweight, injury, heredity and infection. We will be taking a closer look at the condition, to help you understand how to treat it effectively.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when the cartilage of the joint is worn away. The articular cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joints gradually wears away. Where there was once smooth articular cartilage that made the bones move easily against each other when the joint bent and straightened, there is now a frayed, rough surface. Joint motion along this exposed surface is painful.

Because the cartilage is no longer there to absorb shock and allow smooth movement, the bones comprising the joints gradually start to abrade each other. This leads to pain, stiffness, formation of bone spurs, decreased mobility and swelling.

Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis usually develops after many years of use. It affects people who are middle-aged or older. However, there are a handful of factors that increase the odds of the condition occurring at an earlier age. Below are a few of them.


Several studies have shown that women above the age of 55 are more prone to have the condition than men.


Weight gain or obesity is associated with a lot of debilitating health conditions and osteoarthritis is one of them. The heavier you are, the more pressure will be exerted on your knee joints. The pressure on your knee joints is increased by activities such as running, jumping and climbing stairs.


Genetic factors or abnormalities in the bone structure and shape may increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis.


People suffering from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis have a markedly increased chance of arthritis.

Because the cartilage is no longer there to absorb shock and allow smooth movement, the bones comprising the joints gradually start to abrade each other. This leads to pain, stiffness, formation of bone spurs, decreased mobility and swelling.

Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

Below are some common symptoms of the osteoarthritis:

  • Swelling
  • Pain intensifies when you are active
  • Difficulty in getting in and out of seated positions due to decreased mobility and pain
  • Stiffness in the knee region
  • Cracking sound when you move your knee

How is Knee Arthritis Diagnosed?

The two main ways to diagnose knee arthritis are as follows:

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans (better for cartilage and soft tissues injuries)
  • X-rays (the x-ray shows the bone injury)

Your doctor will note the symptoms you experience and your medical history. This is followed by a physical examination. To diagnose the condition you are suffering from, he may carry out more tests to accurately determine what is causing the pain.

How is Knee Arthritis Treated?

Presently, there are several non-surgical treatments for osteoarthritis that can help restore mobility in the affected region and relieve pain. Below are a few of them :

Pain Relief Medication

Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and paracetamol. Make sure you consult your doctor before taking any of the above medications or ask for a prescription.


Exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and make them strong and stable. Stretching exercise can also help increase flexibility in the knee joint.

Weight Loss

Losing a few pounds can help alleviate the strain on the knee joint. This, in turn, will lead to less pain.

Knee Braces

You can either choose to use unloader braces, which transfers the weight away from the affected part of the knee or braces which support the knee.

Injections can be a useful pain-relieving measure. These consist of cortisone and/or hyaluronic acid injections. The cortisone injection helps to decrease the inflammation and pain in the joints. The hyaluronic acid injection improves the lubrication of the joint and helps to relieve pain and stiffness.

When is Surgery Required?

If non-surgical treatments fail, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a surgical procedure. Below are some of the most effective surgical procedures for knee arthritis:


Your doctor may recommend that you undergo an osteotomy if only one part of your knee is damaged. The goal of the procedure is to help improve the alignment of the knee. This is done by changing the alignment of the bones. Do note that this does not directly treat the worn cartilage in the knee and you may require a procedure to do so in the future.


Here a small camera known as the arthroscope and a few other instruments are used. During the surgery, small incisions will be made on the knee. The arthroscope will be placed into one of them to see the degree of damage. Next, the damaged cartilage will be removed. This is usually followed by a procedure known as microfracture whereby small holes are made in the bones to allow regeneration of the cartilage to occur. This procedure is useful for younger patients who are not ready for a joint replacement surgery.


Arthroplasty, which is also known as joint replacement, is a surgical procedure whereby damaged joints are replaced with artificial ones made from plastic, metal or ceramic. Depending on the level of damage, the procedure may involve the replacement of the entire knee or part of it.

This procedure is recommended for patients above 50 years with severe knee arthritis. The surgery may be repeated when the prosthetic joints wear away. This surgery usually carries moderate risk, however the results are usually very good.

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Knee Treatments & Surgery

Conditions of the Knee

  • Meniscus injury/tear
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain/strain
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain/strain
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain/strain
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain/strain
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Housemaid’s knee
  • Infra-patellar bursitis
  • Patella dislocation
  • Patella tendon rupture
  • Quadripceps tendon rupture
  • Articular cartilage injury
  • Acute fat pad impingement
  • Biceps femoris avulsion
  • Tibiofibular joint dislocation
  • Tibial plateau fracture
  • Osteochondritis dissecans