Managing and minimizing knee pain from arthritis

By Scott Oliver, MD
Most people experience knee pain at some point in their lives. This could be due to sports injuries, muscle strains, tendonitis, or more serious injuries. As we become older, one of the more common causes of knee pain is arthritis. Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in the knee.
What is arthritis of the knee?
Arthritis of the knee is a common condition that results in pain and swelling of the knee joint due to the deterioration of the rubber coating called articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones.
Usually the arthritis is due to regular wear and tear of the knee joint and is called osteoarthritis. Another type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which can also occur in the knee and is due to the body’s immune system malfunctioning.
What are some signs and symptoms of arthritis?

  • Stiffening and/or swelling of the joint, which makes it difficult to bend and/or straighten the knee
  • Increased pain and/or swelling either in the morning or following sitting/resting
  • Flare-ups during or after rigorous activity
  • Locking of the knee joint during movement
  • Grinding or cracking sensations in the knee joint
  • Pain that may lead to a feeling of weakness or buckling in the knee
  • Increased joint pain with weather changes

How is arthritis treated?
Ice on the knee and Tylenol can be used first. Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers can be used to treat arthritis; therapeutic injections such as corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid can help as well. Physical therapy is a necessary step in treating arthritis by improving the mobility of the joint. Weight reduction is required to decrease the stress on the joint. If the condition continues after conservative modalities, surgical interventions can be an option, including: knee arthroscopy; minimally invasive partial knee replacement; or minimally invasive total knee replacement.
Scott Oliver, MD, is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Oliver, call (781) 934-2400.

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