Knee osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear of the knee cartilage, which is responsible for protecting and reducing the impact on the bones within the joint. If a large area of knee cartilage is affected, the bones in the knee joint will rub together causing inflammation and pain.

Generally, in cases of knee joint deterioration, it initially involves the inner part of the knee joint. However, with increased wear and tear, all three compartments of the joint may be affected — the inside of the joint, the outside of the joint and the kneecap (patella).

Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis

Common causes of knee osteoarthritis include:

  • Genetics or certain types of congenital abnormalities
  • Age and gender; as we age, our body’s ability to repair cartilage is reduced. Moreover, women over the age of 50 have a higher prevalence of knee osteoarthritis than men of the same age
  • Being overweight (A BMI of over 23kg/m2)
  • Previous knee injuries:
    • After a knee injury, even though the body repaired itself, the knee joint was not restored to its former strength
    • Receiving inadequate treatment for a knee injury
  • Repetitive overuse of the knees or assuming positions which put a strain on the knees. For example, kneeling or crouching, both of which put more than the usual amounts of pressure on the knees if done for too long or too frequently
  • Arthritic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, which have an effect on knee cartilage to the extent that it is completely worn away, leading to pain and stiffness

The following are the standard methods often used to diagnose knee osteoarthritis:

  • An assessment of the patient’s medical history, their previous ailments and a full body check-up
  • X-ray
  • Blood analysis
  • CT Scan and MRI
  • Non-surgical treatments – These can help to alleviate pain and increase the movement capabilities of the knee:
    • Making lifestyle alterations, such as eating a healthy and balanced diet to control weight, and choosing forms of regular exercise that have minimal impact on the knees such as swimming, cycling and walking, in order to strengthen the knee
    • Losing any excess weight in order to reduce pressure on the knees
    • Taking pain-killer and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
    • Training the leg muscles and attending physical therapy sessions
  • Knee replacement surgery
    • Unicompartmental (partial) knee arthroplasty (UKA)
      • Standard unicompartmental (partial) Knee Arthroplasty
      • Robot-assisted unicompartmental (partial) knee arthroplasty (MAKOplasty)
    • Total knee replacement (TKR)
      • Standard total knee replacement (TKR)
      • Computer-assisted total knee replacement
      • Robot-assisted total knee replacement (MAKOplasty)

With such a range of options available, it is important that patients consult their doctor on the most suitable course of treatment.

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