Knee Arthritis: Signs, Causes, and Treatment Options

The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body composed of bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons, as well as many other structures. In 2020, a global study shows around 645 million individuals are affected by knee osteoarthritis. The condition is particularly prevalent in men over the age of 50.

Knee arthritis can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with the right treatment, it can be managed. There are many treatment options available for people dealing with knee arthritis to help them alleviate the pain and keep them stay healthy and active.


What is knee arthritis?

One of the most common kinds of arthritis is knee arthritis. Knee arthritis occurs due to inflammation or deterioration of the knee joint cartilage. Cartilage is a tough and flexible tissue that covers the surface of the joint which allows the knee to bend and straighten. If the cartilage is harmed or damaged, it can cause immediate problems like soreness, swelling, rigidity, or more lasting issues such as osteoarthritis. 

The knee’s main functions are to support the body’s weight, facilitate movement of the leg, help lower and raise the body, act as shock absorber, allow twisting of the leg and provide stability when standing and walking.The knee joint is composed of three bones—the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone) and the patella (kneecap).

Treatment for knee arthritis

Knee Anatomy from Medical News Today

Types of Knee Arthritis 

There are several types of knee arthritis, each with its own symptoms and treatment options. 

1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of knee arthritis and results from years of wear and tear on the joint and it’s common in people over the age of 50.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that leads to inflammation in the joints. It typically affects the smaller joints of the body, including the knees.

3. Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Arthritis that is a result of a prior trauma may occur following an injury to the knee such as a ligament tear or fracture.

Signs and Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Some of the most common signs and symptoms linked to knee arthritis include:

  • Pain: Pain is the most common symptom of knee arthritis. It may be felt as a dull ache, burning, or sharp pain. Activities such as walking, running, or climbing stairs may cause an increase in pain.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness and reduced range of motion in the knee joint are common with knee arthritis. This can impede the ability to bend one’s knee and carry out daily tasks.
  • Swelling: Swelling and tenderness in the knee joint may also occur with knee arthritis. This is the result of joint inflammation.
  • Crepitus: Crepitus is a crunching or grinding sensation that may be felt when the knee is moved. The joint’s bones are grinding against each other because of the disappearance of cartilage, leading to this issue.
  • Weakness: Weakness in the knee joint can occur with knee arthritis.
  • Loss of range of motion: People with knee arthritis may have difficulty fully straightening or bending the knee due to a loss of range of motion.
  • Instability: People with knee arthritis may feel their knee giving out or buckling due to instability.

If you are experiencing these symptoms in your knees, it’s highly recommended to consult an orthopedic doctor for professional advice and immediate medical treatment.  

What causes knee arthritis?

Age is the most common cause of knee arthritis but there are multiple elements that can contribute to the likelihood of getting severe arthritis at a younger age. The other causes of knee arthritis include:

  • Obesity: Obesity is another significant risk factor for knee arthritis, as an increased weight places extra pressure on the knee joint and can cause the cartilage to wear away. 
  • Knee injury: Injury is also a common cause of knee arthritis. Traumatic damage to the knee, such as a dislocation or fracture, can cause knee arthritis to develop. 
  • Overuse: Excessive utilization of the knee joint can result in the onset of knee arthritis. Activities such as running and jumping that involve repeated knee flexion and extension can cause the cartilage to break down over time.
  • Hereditary or genetics: Knee arthritis may be caused by heredity, such as slight joint abnormalities or hypermobility, as well as any genetic abnormality.
  • Abnormal joint alignment: This occurs when the bones of the knee joint do not line up properly and become misaligned. This may be caused by an impairment or a disorder like bowed legs or knock knees.

Knee Arthritis Treatment

Treatment for knee arthritis typically includes a combination of lifestyle changes, physical therapy, medications, and possibly surgery. Take a look at the recommended treatment for knee arthritis: 

  • Lifestyle changes 

can include weight management and regular exercise. Losing excess weight can reduce the amount of stress placed on the knee joint and can help reduce pain. Low impact exercises, such as swimming, walking, or yoga, can help improve joint mobility and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint.

  • Physical therapy 

can help enhance joint motion, reduce pain and discomfort, and enhance strength. A physical therapist can teach exercises that will extend range of motion, suppleness, and muscular strength. In addition to physical therapy, other treatments may include the utilization of heat and cold, massage, and electrical stimulation.

  • Medications 

are often used to help reduce pain and inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can be beneficial in lessening pain and swelling. Injections of corticosteroids may be utilized to lessen inflammation.

  • Surgery

If lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and medications are not effective in treating the pain and disability caused by knee arthritis, surgery may be an option. Surgery may involve reconstructing the joint or knee replacement using artificial components.


Knee Arthritis

Experiencing knee arthritis? Contact Orthopaedic Surgery Associates


If you’d like to consult one of our orthopedic surgeons, we are here for you. Our professional team of orthopedic physicians will take good care of you. We are one of the most advanced orthopedic groups in Boca Raton orthopedics and sports medicine.

Our office serves patients in the Palm Beach County area with three convenient locations: 

Contact us for more information on how we can help you on your path to healing your orthopedic health condition.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.