The knee is the body’s strongest and largest joint. It is a complex structure consisting of bone and ligaments as well as cartilage and fluid. A disease or an injury that affects one of these components usually affects the others as well.
The resulting knee problems may necessitate knee replacement, also called knee arthroscopy. These problems can make it difficult to perform any action that involves bending the knee. This means that you may have trouble walking and may even find it difficult to stand up after sitting.
The knee joint is where the tibia, femur, and patella meet. The two wedges of cartilage between the tibia and the femur are the menisci and they help to absorb shock while also stabilizing the joint. The ends of the three bones have a cartilage coating and the synovial membrane encapsulates the joint, which makes it possible to move it smoothly.
Conditions that Cause Knee Damage
Osteoarthritis can affect one or both of your knees. The condition results in the breakdown of cartilage. The result of the degraded cartilage is that the bones in your knee start to grind against each other. This will cause pain and stiffness. In the earliest stages of the disease, you may only experience the symptoms when doing high impact activities such as running or jumping. However, osteoarthritis is progressive. Over time, you will find that basic daily activities like climbing stairs become increasingly difficult.
Note: Because knee cartilage does not have nerve endings, you can injure it without experiencing pain. This means that damage may go unnoticed for some time.
This condition causes the immune system to attack the synovial membrane that encapsulates the knee joint. This membrane produces synovial fluid to keep the joint lubricated and moving smoothly. The attack on the synovial membrane causes inflammation and can damage the cartilage. While osteoarthritis typically affects older adults, rheumatoid arthritis can start at any age. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may also flare up periodically. Often, these flare-ups are difficult to predict but it is possible to reduce their frequency with the right treatment.
Post-Traumatic Knee Arthritis
If you have suffered a knee injury in an accident and the injury involved fractured bones or damage to the meniscus or ligaments, you may develop post-traumatic arthritis. This arthritis occurs because the injury causes the cartilage in your knee to degrade, which results in the same pain and swelling seen in osteoarthritis. The symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis may not show up until many years after your knee injury.
The solutions for the different types of knee arthritis include the use of walking aids like canes and walkers along with medications and surgery. The surgical options include knee reconstruction and knee replacement. Usually, doctors reserve knee replacement surgery for the most severe cases.