Knee Arthritis

What is Knee Arthritis?

Knee arthritis is a condition that commonly affects the knee joint cartilage. In a healthy knee, a smooth, slippery substance, known as articular cartilage, covers the bones and allows them to smoothly glide over each other. When a knee is affected by arthritis, this layer of cartilage breaks down and causes pain, swelling and a reduction of motion.

Knee arthritis can make it difficult to do everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs and it can seriously affect your quality of life. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, however, the most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

What Causes Knee Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. It is caused by general “wear-and-tear” and usually occurs in people aged over 50 years. Osteoarthritis develops slowly, and the pain can get worse over time. While the exact causes of osteoarthritis are not known, the following factors contribute to the condition:
  • Having a joint injury
  • Undertaking activities which place extra stress on the knee
  • Being overweight
  • Getting older
Occasionally, knee arthritis may also be the result of rheumatoid arthritis, which is a disease that attacks many joints throughout the body. Knee arthritis can also occur after an injury to the knee.

Knee Arthritis Symptoms

The symptoms of knee arthritis include pain, inflammation, stiffness, swelling and reduced motion in the knee.

Diagnosing Knee Arthritis

The first diagnosis of knee arthritis will probably be made by your GP. He or she will usually assess your overall physical health and will probably send you for X-rays. You may also be sent for an MRI or a bone scan.

Knee Arthritis treatment

Arthritis Australia recommends trying a range of non-surgical treatments prior to considering surgery. These include weight loss, and regular exercise, as well as low-impact activities such as swimming, walking and Tai Chi.

Surgery for Knee Arthritis

If your knee pain is severely affecting your quality of life, your doctor may recommend that you talk to one of our orthopaedic surgeons. Most surgeries for knee arthritis aim to:
  • Relieve strong pain that has not responded to other treatments
  • Improve joint movement and flexibility to help you walk more comfortably
  • Improve the alignment of your joints
The most common types of surgery for knee arthritis include: