You know your body, and you can tell the difference between general aches and pains and the type that signals something else is wrong. So when your knee hurts but you can’t put your finger on the reason, it may be arthritis.
Dr. Damon Kimes and our team at Roswell Pain and Weight Loss Specialists can help you recognize when your knee pain symptoms indicate a more serious underlying condition like arthritis. Here’s everything you need to know about knee arthritis and which warning signs warrant medical attention from our expert.
A closer look at your knee
Your knee is a powerful hinge joint designed to perform a wide variety of tasks. Some of the most important jobs your knee does on a daily basis include:
- Supporting your body weight without the need for muscles
- Allowing for twisting of your leg
- Providing stability
- Lowering and raising your body
- Absorbing shock
- Propelling your body forward
- Making walking easy
To carry out these tasks, your knee relies on a complex network of bones, tendons, and ligaments working together with lubricating and cushioning substances, such as joint capsules, bursae, and cartilage.
With so much responsibility and so many structures coming together at one point, it’s easy to understand why it’s so vulnerable to injury and disease. Athletes have seen professional careers ended with a ligament tear, and some have had to hang up their running shoes thanks to overuse injuries.
Many others see their daily lives changed as a result of the leading cause of knee pain: arthritis.
Common causes of knee arthritis
Arthritis, more specifically osteoarthritis, is a common degenerative condition that impacts the cushioning substance — cartilage — in your knee joint. As the cartilage wears away, the bones in your knee rub against each other painfully.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting 32 million people in the US, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected areas.
Virtually anyone can develop osteoarthritis in their knee, but it typically stems from factors and conditions including:
- Stress injuries
- Certain sports and activity
- Other illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis
Arthritis can lead to significant, permanent joint damage if not treated quickly. That’s why it’s important to catch the warning signs of arthritis early. Here are four common signs of knee arthritis.
As your bones bump and rub against each other, the surrounding tissue in your joint becomes severely inflamed and swollen. As a result, you might notice that your knee looks puffy, red, or warm to the touch. Swelling and inflammation often impact your range of motion as well.
#2: Tenderness and pain
Because your knee has lost most of its ability to absorb shock and reduce friction, it can become extremely painful. You may notice pain with weight-bearing and walking and lingering tenderness even when you’re at rest.
Cartilage is a vital part of your knee joint. It provides structure as well as natural cushioning, and without it, your knee weakens and becomes unstable. If you feel like your knee could “give out,” you may have developed arthritis.
A healthy knee moves flawlessly like a well-oiled hinge. A knee plagued with arthritis loses its fluidity of motion and can start to make noise as you move. Listen for sounds like grinding, creaking, cracking, grating, crunching, or popping as these are all signs that point to crepitus and possibly arthritis.
Treating knee arthritis
We believe that the answer to your arthritis problems is often a simple one, so we take an integrative approach to arthritis treatments, focusing on your whole-health rather than addressing individual symptoms.
Dr. Kimes begins by conducting a thorough review of your conditions, symptoms, and health history. You may also perform a series of basic in-office exercises to help Dr. Kimes evaluate your range of motion and movement.
In some cases, he orders laboratory or diagnostic imaging tests, like X-rays and CT scans, to further understand the extent of your knee arthritis and look for problems like cartilage loss, bone spurs, and bone damage.
Once he has a complete understanding of your specific situation, Dr. Kimes creates a customized treatment plan.
Depending on your needs, he can recommend the following treatments:
- Diet and nutrition counseling
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- Physical therapy
- At-home exercises
- Stretching programs
- Hormone replacement therapy
Our comprehensive treatment plans treat your arthritis as conservatively and naturally as possible, and we have multiple options with the same goal: to stop your pain and slow the progression of your arthritis.
If you’d like more information or suspect you have arthritis and would like to start treatment, request an appointment online or over the phone at our Roswell, Georgia office.