Anatomy :

The knee is the largest and strongest joint in your body. It is made up of the lower end of the femur (thighbone), the upper end of the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap). The ends of the three bones where they touch are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth, slippery substance that protects and cushions the bones as you bend and straighten your knee.

Two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage called meniscus act as "shock absorbers" between your thighbone and shinbone. They are tough and rubbery to help cushion the joint and keep it stable.

The knee joint is surrounded by a thin lining called the synovial membrane. This membrane releases a fluid that lubricates the cartilage and reduces friction.

What is Osteoarthritis ?

Osteoarthritis, usually known as wear-and-tear arthritis, is a disease in which the natural cushioning between joints — cartilage — wears away. When this occurs, the bones of the joints rub more closely against one another with less of the shock-absorbing benefits of cartilage. The rubbing results in pain, stiffness, swelling, diminished the ability to move and, seldom, the formation of bone spurs.

Stages of Knee Osteoarthritis :

  • grade 0 (none): definite absence of x-ray changes of osteoarthritis
  • grade 1 (doubtful): doubtful joint space narrowing and possible osteophytic lipping
  • grade 2 (minimal): definite osteophytes and possible joint space narrowing
  • grade 3 (moderate): moderate multiple osteophytes, definite narrowing of joint space and some sclerosis and possible deformity of bone ends
  • grade 4 (severe): large osteophytes, marked narrowing of joint space, severe sclerosis and definite deformity of bone ends

Following are main risk factors for knee arthritis :

  1. Age :- Your risk of knee osteoarthritis increases as you age,starting at about age 45 and levelling off after age 75.
  2. Excess Over Weight :- This is one of the biggest risk factors for knee arthritis and the one you have the most power to change.
  3. Gender :- Women are at higher risk for knee osteoarthritis than men.
  4. Previous Injury :- A knee injury can leave you more vulnerable to future arthritis, even years later.

What are the signs and symptoms of OA ?

  1. Pain
  2. Tenderness
  3. Swelling
  4. Feeling of warmth in the joint
  5. Stiffness in the knee, especially in the morning
  6. Creaking, crackly sound that is heard when the knee moves

Diagnosis :

  • X-rays - Cartilage doesn't show up on X-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. An X-ray can also show bone spurs around a joint.

Treatment : Osteoarthritis can't be reversed, but treatments can reduce pain and help you move better.

  1. Medications - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen taken at the recommended doses, typically relieve osteoarthritis pain.
  2. Physical therapy - A physical therapist can show you exercises to strengthen the muscles around your joint, increase your flexibility and reduce pain. Regular gentle exercise that you do on your own, such as swimming or walking, can be equally effective.

  • Joint replacement - In joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), your surgeon removes your damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with plastic and metal parts. Surgical risks include infections and blood clots. Artificial joints can wear out or come loose and may need to eventually be replaced.

  • Prevention of the Osteoarthritis :
    1. Control Weight:- If you are at a healthy weight, maintaining that weight may be the most important thing you can do to prevent osteoarthritis. 
    2. Exercise:- If the muscles that run along the front of the thigh are weak, research shows you have an increased risk of painful knee osteoarthritis.