Arthritis is a general term describing numerous conditions where the joint surface or cartilage wears out. The joint surface is covered by a smooth articular surface that allows pain free movement in the joint. This surface can wear out for a number of reasons; often the principal cause is not known.
When the articular cartilage wears out the bone ends rub on one another and cause pain. This condition is referred to as Osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis as it occurs with aging and use. It is the most common type of arthritis.
Causes of Arthritis
There are numerous conditions that can cause arthritis but often the exact cause is not established. In general, but not always, it affects people as they get older (Osteoarthritis).
Other causes include:
- Trauma (fracture)
- Increased stress such as overuse or being overweight
- Infection of the joint
- Connective tissue disorders
- Inactive lifestyle and Obesity (overweight); Your weight is the single most important link between diet and arthritis as being overweight puts an additional burden on your knees.
- Inflammation (Rheumatoid arthritis)
Knee arthritis causes pain and decreased mobility of the knee joint. There may be a loss of motion and increasing swelling. In the arthritic knee there is an absent joint space which will be demonstrated on X-ray. In the normal knee there is a normal joint space.
The cartilage lining is thinner than normal or completely absent. The degree of cartilage damage and inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis. The capsule of the arthritic knee is swollen. The joint space is narrowed and irregular in outline; this can be seen in an X-ray image. Bone spurs or excessive bone can also build up around the edges of the joint. The combinations of these factors make the arthritic knee stiff and limit activities due to discomfort, swelling or fatigue.