Knee osteoarthritis involves the wearing down of the cartilage between the bones. The cartilage is responsible for cushioning the bones and allows smooth movement of the joints. Once the cartilage is worn out, the bones rub against each other, resulting to pain, stiffness and reduced movement. Knee osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form but there are various treatment options which include lifestyle changes and medical treatments.
Knee osteoarthritis is a progressive disease which simply means that it worsens over time. The initial symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include joint stiffness upon waking up in the morning or dull ache after activity. Swelling, tenderness and warmth in the joints are also common symptoms.
Some will also experience weakness in the knee joint or feel and hear clicking or cracking sounds. Take note that the symptoms can occur only after physical activity at first but as the condition progresses, there is also pain even while at rest.
Diagnosing knee osteoarthritis
It is important to inform the doctor about the symptoms including when they occur and how long. The doctor will check for joint swelling and ask the individual to flex and extend the knees to assess the range of motion. An X-ray is also performed to help with the diagnosis since the results can indicate worn-down cartilage that is revealed by the loss of space in between the joints.
Knee osteoarthritis typically responds to over-the-counter pain medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. When the individual has moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis, these over-the-counter medications are not effective.
In such cases, the doctor will prescribe potent drugs to minimize the inflammation and provide lasting relief from the pain. In case oral medications do not work, injectable corticosteroids are given. These are administered directly into the knee joint to reduce the swelling. In most cases, the individual will receive several injections in a year depending on the level of pain experienced.
Measures to manage the pain
There are various home remedies that can help manage the pain as long as approved by the doctor. If you will register for first aid training, you can effectively provide these measures. The initial move is to rest if the individual experiences a flare-up. Even though movement and exercise helps maintain flexibility, the inflamed joints must be allowed to rest if they are sore. Other measures to relieve the pain include the following:
- Apply a warm or cold compress over the affected knee
- Try to lose weight if needed since extra weight will add more pressure on the knees
- Wear knee braces to support the joint
- Install grab bars or other adaptive devices around the house
Applying knee braces
Knee osteoarthritis can cause pain and weakness as the condition progresses. The weakened joints need additional support when engaging in daily routines. The braces and splints are specially designed to support the knees both at rest and during activity.