Knee pain is a common issue that can affect individuals of all ages. However, when knee pain becomes chronic and starts to interfere with daily activities, it is important to consider underlying conditions such as osteoarthritis. As a physiotherapist, I often work with patients who are unsure if their knee pain is related to osteoarthritis or another cause. In this article, we will explore some key indicators that can help determine if knee pain is due to osteoarthritis.
- Gradual Onset and Progression: Osteoarthritis typically develops slowly over time. If you notice that your knee pain has been gradually worsening and has persisted for several months or years, it may be a sign of osteoarthritis. The pain may start as mild discomfort and progress to more severe pain and stiffness over time.
- Age and Risk Factors: Osteoarthritis is more common in older adults, especially those over the age of 50. If you are in this age group and experiencing knee pain, it increases the likelihood that osteoarthritis may be the cause. Additionally, certain risk factors, such as obesity, previous joint injuries, repetitive stress on the knee joint, or a family history of osteoarthritis, can further increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis as the underlying cause.
- Joint Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion: Osteoarthritis can lead to joint stiffness and reduced flexibility. If you find it challenging to fully bend or straighten your knee or experience a noticeable decrease in your range of motion, it may indicate osteoarthritis. Stiffness is often more prominent in the morning or after periods of inactivity and tends to improve with gentle movement.
- Crepitus and Joint Sounds: Osteoarthritis can cause the knee joint to produce cracking, popping, or grating sounds during movement. This phenomenon, known as crepitus, is often accompanied by pain. If you experience these sounds in your knee joint, particularly when going up or down stairs or during weight-bearing activities, it may be a sign of osteoarthritis.
- Swelling and Inflammation: Osteoarthritis can cause swelling and inflammation in the knee joint. If you notice that your knee appears swollen, feels warm to the touch, or looks red, it suggests an inflammatory response associated with osteoarthritis. However, it is important to note that not all cases of osteoarthritis present with visible swelling.
- Pain Relief with Rest: Individuals with osteoarthritis often find that resting the knee temporarily alleviates the pain. If you experience relief when you take a break from activities or rest with your knee elevated, it may indicate osteoarthritis as the underlying cause.
While these signs can indicate osteoarthritis, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or orthopaedic specialist, for an accurate diagnosis. They will perform a thorough evaluation, which may include a physical examination, review of medical history, and potentially imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans. With this information, they can provide a proper diagnosis and develop an individualised treatment plan.
Treatment for knee osteoarthritis often involves a combination of conservative measures, such as physiotherapy, exercise programs, pain management strategies, and lifestyle modifications. These interventions aim to improve joint mobility, reduce pain, and enhance overall knee function.
As a physiotherapist in Crawley, knee pain that is a result of OA is common, as it is one the key load bearing joints. Over the long term, it’s common to have pressure built up into the knees causing bony degeneration. The key, often, is the strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, to give it more support when walking, bending, and doing other daily activities.
Remember, if you are experiencing knee pain and suspect it may be due to osteoarthritis, it is important to seek professional guidance for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Note: This article was written with the help of AI technology and therefore may include incorrect information and discrepancies.