Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of arthritis and a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of joint cartilage. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a cushion between the bones of a joint. With OA, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away, allowing bones under the cartilage to rub together.
How is osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee diagnosed?
Your physician will begin by reviewing your medical history and symptoms. He or she will observe the natural movement of your knee, evaluate your knee and ankle joint alignment, and check your reflexes, muscle strength, range of motion and ligament stability in the affected knee.
Your physician may order X-rays to determine how much joint or bone damage there is, how much cartilage has been lost and if there are bone spurs present. Additional medical imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to determine exactly where the damage is and its extent.
Your physician may also order blood tests to rule out other causes of symptoms, or order a joint aspiration, which involves drawing fluid from the joint through a needle and examining the fluid under a microscope.
What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?
Although the root cause of OA is unknown, the risk of developing symptomatic OA is influenced by multiple factors. These can include age, gender, and inherited traits that can affect the shape and stability of your joints.
Other factors can include:
What are the symptoms of OA of the knee?
Symptoms of OA of the knee include:
How is OA treated?
Whether your OA is mild or severe, your physician will most likely recommend certain lifestyle changes to reduce stress on your knee joints. Additional disease and pain management strategies may include: physical therapy; steroid injections; over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); or topical pain-relieving creams. Speak with your physician if your symptoms aren’t responding to non-surgical solutions, or your pain can no longer be controlled by medication as you could be a candidate for surgery.
Surgical treatment of OA of the knee
The most common surgical knee intervention performed for OA is a total knee replacement. During this procedure, the natural joint is removed and replaced with an artificial implant. This treatment option is usually offered to patients with advanced osteoarthritis of the knee.
However, total knee replacement is not always optimal for patients with early- to mid-stage osteoarthritis in just one or two compartments of the knee. For patients with partial OA of the knee, MAKOplasty® Partial Knee Resurfacing may be the more appropriate solution.