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Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often in older people. This disease affects the tissue covering the ends of bones (cartilage) in a joint . In a person with osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement in the affected joint. This condition most commonly affects the weight-bearing hip and knee joints. Less commonly, the disease may affect the shoulders, wrists and feet.

Causes and risk factors

Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to being overweight, excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, previous fracture, growth abnormalities, joint diseases, injury or deformity.

Some people have congenital (since birth) abnormalities of the joints that cause early degeneration and subsequently cause osteoarthritis.


Specialists diagnose osteoarthritis with a medical history, physical examination and x-rays of the affected joint. During the physical examination your surgeon will examine the affected joint for swelling, pain, tenderness, and assess the joint’s range of motion. An X-ray of the knee may show a loss of the joint space, hardening of the bone, cysts and osteophyte (bone spur) formation. There is no blood test for osteoarthritis.


There is no known cure for osteoarthritis; however there are several treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help you ease your pain and symptoms. The objective of the treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint movement, and prevent further damage to joint. The treatment of osteoarthritis involves:

  • Medications: Medications may include different classes such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, artificial joint fluid injections, and other drugs.
  • Lifestyle modifications:

Some of the lifestyle modifications include:

  • A moderate exercise program
  • Use of Heat or cold treatments
  • Eating a healthy and well balanced diet
  • Get adequate rest
  • Lose weight if you are overweight

Protect your joints with the use of assistive devices such as splints,braces and walking aids to support the weakened joints
Physiotherapy: Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength.

Surgery: Surgery is usually considered if nonsurgical treatment fails to provide relief. Mr Edwards and Mr Melton will consider realignment surgery/osteotomy, partial or total joint replacement surgery as an option when the pain is so severe that it affects your ability to carry out normal activities.

RCS Logo British Orthopaedic AssociationRoyal College of Surgeons of EdinburghOTSISBritish Association for knee surgeryISOAMDU LogoOTSIS