Osteoarthritis of the knee is the loss of articular cartilage in the knee joint. Articular cartilage covers the end of the bones inside a joint.
Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee typically complain of stiffness and pain in either the front, back, or side of the knee. The pain is described as a dull ache, sometimes warm, and worse with prolonged sitting, standing, and walking. Patients also report difficulty with impact activities (e.g. running), as well as walking with a limp and aching pain at night.
Osteoarthritis of the knee can be diagnosed by plain X-rays. Treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee varies. The initial treatment consists of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, etc.) and application of ice to relieve the pain and inflammation in the joint. If loss of motion has occurred, stretching exercises or physical therapy is recommended to maintain one’s range of motion. Steroid injections are often provided for symptomatic relief as well. Knee bracing may also be beneficial.
If the osteoarthritis is advanced and conservative treatment has failed, a total knee replacement may be necessary for pain relief and return to function.