Joint cartilage wearing away in the knee joint is a painful condition called osteoarthritis of the knee. It is the most common type of osteoarthritis, and can have many causes.
When there is a meeting of the two bones, or joint of the knee, there is a cushiony cartilage between the two that serves to pad the area and prevent the two bones from rubbing against one another. In some cases, the cushion wears away, creating friction every time the joint is used as the two bones rub against each other. The consistent rubbing will cause inflammation, pain, stiffness or the formation of bone spurs. This condition is referred to as degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis of the knee.
Many causes can be attributed to the development of osteoarthritis of the knee. An injury to the joint that may have occurred by wrenching it during a fall, accident or while playing a sport can be one of the causes of the disorder. Often obesity is the reason that the cushion wears away. Genetics may make it more likely for some people to develop the degeneration than others.
The disorder is often noted by the sufferer himself, experiencing pain that worsens as the joint is used. Resting the knee will bring relief from the pain at least initially, but as the degeneration progresses, the pain becomes more prevalent with little or no relief. It is usually at this point that the individual seeks a doctor’s advice. Osteoarthritis of the knee is typically diagnosed after examining the leg and viewing x-rays to determine how advanced the degeneration has become.
The first course of action after making the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee will be to alleviate the pain. Medication will generally be prescribed, along with some topical applications for pain. Addressing the source of the pain will be next; physical therapy is found to be quite helpful as flexibility and movement of the joint is regained. In serious cases, hyaluronic acid injections or knee surgery may be recommended.
Our knee joints have hyaluronic acid in place already. However, through the degeneration caused by osteoarthritis of the knee, it becomes thinner and less effective. By injecting addition hyaluronic acid into the joint, more protection is afforded the area; resulting in the elimination of pain that can last up to a year. While these injections have great results for some, for others there is no benefit at all. It is estimated that approximately one of every four people with osteoarthritis of the knee will eventually require surgery. This may be accomplished by arthroscopy, osteotomy or arthroplasty.
A preventative measure to protect from acquiring osteoarthritis of the knee is to retain a healthy weight. Also, act promptly in seeking medical attention if an injury results in knee pain to avoid further degeneration.