Knee osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the knee joint. It is more common in people older than 40 years. Women have greater chance to be affected.[citation needed]


Signs and symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreasing range of motion
  • Muscle weakness and atrophy due to inactivity or stiffness
  • Crepitus
  • Effusion
  • Deformity [1]
  • Baker's cyst (a harmless but sometimes painful collection of joint fluid behind the knee)


Osteoarthritis of the knee is predominately considered a "wear and tear" process, where there is gradual degradation of the hyaline cartilage that covers the articulating surfaces of the bones in the knee joint. In most people, the disease is either post-traumatic or hereditary.

Other causes or contributing factors may include:

  • Trauma
  • Elements injury of the knee joint
  • Interarticular fractures of the knee and knee dislocations
  • Arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, etc.)
  • Deformities of the knee joint that include:


The most important characteristic of knee osteoarthritis is degeneration of the articular cartilage in the knee joint. Osteoarthritis of the knee can involve one, two, or all three compartments of the knee:

  • Medial or lateral compartments of the tibiofemoral joint (between the femur and the tibia)
  • Patellofemoral joint (between the femur and patella)


  • Joint space narrowing
  • Osteophyte formation at the joint margins
  • Subchondral Sclerosis (new subchondral bone formation in response to stress on the bone)
  • Subchondral Cyst formation (joint fluid under pressure gets into cracks in the cartilage)


  • Pharmacologic therapy (Tylenol; NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, naprosyn, etc.; glucosamine/chondroitin)
  • Intra-articular injection (steroid or hyaluronic acid preparations such as Synvisc or Supartz)
  • Weight loss (if obesity or overweight)
  • Low Impact Aerobic Exercise (walking, treadmill, elliptical, bike or stationary bike, swimming or water aerobics)
  • Physical therapy. Aims of physical therapy include:
    • Pain and spasm relief
    • Reducing stiffness
    • Muscles strengthening
    • Increasing range of motion
    • Increasing flexibility
    • Gait training
    • Balance improvement
    • Patient education
    • Increasing functional activities
  • Assistive devices (cane, walker)
  • Surgical treatment (when nonsurgical management fails to provide relief)


Surgical operations can include the following:

  • Arthroscopic debridement (so-called "clean out"). Debridement may be done for these knee problems:
    • Damaged cartilage
    • Damaged meniscus
    • The presence of loose bodies in knee joint
    • Osteophytes of the joint
    • Synovial hypertrophy (by synovectomy)
  • Osteochondral allograft (bulk or mosaic)
  • Arthrodesis (Fusion)


  1. ^ Graham Appley and Louis Solomon: "System o Orthopaedics and Fractures", editions Churchille Livingstone, London, Paris, New York, 1993
  • John Crawford Adams and David L.Hamblen. Outline of Orthopaedics. Twelfth Edition. ISBN 0 443 05149 6
  • Darlene Hertling and Randolph M.Kessler. Management of Common Musculoskeletal Disorders. Third Edition. ISBN 0-397-55150-9

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