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What Is Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

Osteoarthritis of the knee often results from an age-related degenerative process that occurs gradually over time. Through ongoing wear and tear, the smooth cartilage that lines the knee joint can begin to break down and wear away, leading to bone-on-bone contact. In response, the body may produce smooth bony deposits (bone spurs) to help protect the exposed bone surfaces. All of this can lead to knee pain, stiffness and impaired mobility.

What does osteoarthritis of the knee feel like?

Because knee arthritis typically progresses very slowly, its symptoms often worsen in frequency and severity over a number of years. The primary symptom of knee osteoarthritis is pain, which may follow any of the following patterns:

  • Mild-to-moderate discomfort that comes and goes
  • A persistent, dull ache punctuated by periodic, intense flare-ups
  • Pain that occurs or intensifies during activities that strain the damaged knee joint, such as walking, climbing stairs, squatting, kneeling and bending
  • Pain and stiffness that worsen with prolonged rest or inactivity

How is osteoarthritis of the knee treated?

In general, regular exercise and weight maintenance are key components of an effective treatment plan for osteoarthritis of the knee. A physician or physical therapist can recommend an individualized workout program designed to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint, enhance range of motion and reduce pain. Walking and swimming are excellent options.

While the degenerative process that leads to knee osteoarthritis cannot be reversed or halted, many people are able to effectively manage their discomfort. In addition to regular exercise and weight maintenance, this can often be accomplished with lifestyle changes, physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or, in severe cases, surgery.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, you can explore a variety of osteoarthritis treatment options with our team of experienced knee specialists. We offer the latest approaches to physical therapy, custom bracing and surgery, including minimally invasive and traditional techniques. Our goal is to help each patient find the most conservative treatment plan that will be effective. To learn more, contact us today.