Knee pain persisting for more than 6 weeks, or associated with difficulty in stair climbing or squatting/ cross leg sitting, may be due to Knee Arthritis. Knee Arthritis may develop secondary to degenerative process (OsteoArthritis) or chronic inflammatory changes (Rheumatoid Arthritis); less commonly it may be due to Uric Acid crystal deposition (UrateArthropathy); or sometimes after an injury or fracture around the joint (Post Traumatic Arthritis)
Arthritis develops secondary to loss of articular cartilage in the knee joint. There are three compartments, which may be affected in isolation, or together. Medial compartment arthritis is common in degenerative pathology. Lateral compartment arthritis is common in Rheumatoid patients. Patellofemoral arthritis leads to predominant pain in the front of the knee joint, and may be co-existent with medial or lateral compartment involvement.
Knee Arthritis in early stages typically presents with difficulty in squatting/ cross leg sitting or difficulty in climbing stairs. Gradually over a period of months, these changes become more profound causing restriction in activities of daily living. Pain is often associated with swelling and stiffness.
As Knee Arthritis progresses, patients notice gradual bowing of legs or difficulty in moving knee joint through the full range. Patients with knee arthritis should always be evaluated for involvement of other joints, morning stiffness, or fever.
How To Delay Knee Arthritis :
Lifestyle modification, regular activity and timely medical opinion helps a long way in delaying Knee Arthritis.
Most common factor leading to rapid aggravation of knee arthritis is increased body weight. It is important to keep BMI check and monitor weight gain beyond the acceptable limits. Although, increased body weight is not a cause of arthritis; however, if arthritis is developing body weight can accelerate the rate of damage.
Second factor is presence of Positive family history. It covers those healthy individuals who have a sibling or parents with arthritis. It is important to ascertain the type of arthritis, as management depends upon the etiology. Normal individuals with positive family history should get a routine check done every year after 40 years of age to check of early signs and symptoms.
Third important step is Education. It is helpful to gather information about the natural course of arthritis progression, so that patients and healthy subjects can pick up earliest warning signs and symptoms. Any knee pain persisting for more than 6 weeks, or knee pain over 3 weeks with positive family history; or knee pain associated with swelling or fever – Such cases need urgent Orthopedic opinion.
Fourth step is towards adoption of healthy lifestyle. Knee Arthritis is more common in Asian population due to adoption of postures like squatting and cross leg sitting, and some genetic influence. It is advisable to healthy individuals that they should avoid squatting/ cross leg sitting/ kneeling if they experience earliest signs of knee pain.