Knee arthritis causes inflammation and swelling in knee joints which are large weight-bearing joints subject to repetitive wear and tear. This type of arthritis is termed osteoarthritis occurring over time due to degeneration of joint bones and affects millions of Indians. In knee arthritis, cartilage, a connective tissue that provides cushioning and shock absorption within joints, wears away. Some other common forms of arthritis that affect the knees are psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis that cause widespread joint inflammation in the body.
Knee arthritis symptoms can be chronic, intermittent, or progressive. They can vary in intensity from mild to moderate and can make everyday tasks and functional movements difficult.
Some of the common symptoms of knee arthritis are mentioned below:
Joint Pain: Joint pain occurs due to the wearing of cartilage in the knee and is the most common symptom of knee arthritis. The leg bones that form the knee joint grind against each other with increased friction due to a lack of protective cushioning and shock absorption from cartilage loss.
Tenderness: Increased pain and inflammation due to knee arthritis can cause joint line tenderness at the inside and outside portion of the knee joint where the ends of the femur and tibia meet.
Stiffness: When cartilage degenerates due to knee arthritis, the knee joint can stiffen upon waking up in the morning and typically lasts for about one hour in case of osteoarthritis, and for more for prolonged periods with rheumatoid arthritis.
Slower range of motion: Knee arthritis can decrease the range of motion of the knee joint, causing difficulty in bending the knee due to increased joint stiffness and pain making the movement difficult.
Swelling: Swelling of the knee can occur from inflammation of the knee joint due to increased friction between bones because of cartilage degeneration. Inflammatory processes can cause swelling within the knee joint that can result in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Weakness: Knee arthritis can cause weakness in the supporting muscles that surround the knee and hip joints. It can affect the functional movements that require the use of the knees like walking and stair climbing leading to muscle atrophy and weakness from lack of leg muscle use.
Gait problems: It is common for patients with knee arthritis to develop gait problems due to muscle weakness and decreased weight placed through the legs with arthritic knees. Common symptoms of gait deviations in patients with knee arthritis include decreased knee and hip range of motion and weight-bearing that can cause a slow gait speed, shuffling pattern, widened stance, or limping.
Balancing issues: Knee arthritis can make the surrounding leg muscles of the knee and hip joints weak and can cause balancing problems as the legs may lack adequate support and stability from muscle groups like quadriceps.
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