Knee Arthritis

Arthritis is a painful condition that can have a significant impact on your mobility and quality of life. It can affect any joint in your body, including your knees, which can make day-to-day activities like walking and climbing stairs increasingly difficult. There are different types of arthritis but the most common is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear and tear arthritis as it is often associated with ageing. Arthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens over time.

Causes of Knee Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration of the cartilage that protects the knee joint. This cartilage, which is rubbery and slippery, allows the bones to slide freely over each other without rubbing, as well as acting as a shock absorber when you walk or move. Cartilage starts to wear naturally as we age and it can also break down as the result of inflammation in the joint or injury – either a sudden trauma or a repetitive injury. Knees are weight-bearing joints which means if you are overweight they can be particularly susceptible to damage. Certain kinds of sport also increase the risk of knee damage which can lead to arthritis.

Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Symptoms of knee arthritis tend to begin slowly and become more severe as the disease progresses. They include:

  • Pain in the affected knee particularly during or after movement.
  • Stiffness after periods of inactivity.
  • Loss of flexibility in the knee.
  • A grating sensation or popping noises when you move.
  • Swelling, redness and inflammation around the affected knee.
  • The development of bony spurs which can feel like hard lumps around the knee joint.

Diagnosis of Knee Arthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is normally diagnosed with a physical examination to check for joint tenderness and loss of mobility. You may also have an X-ray to check for bony spurs and the narrowing of spaces between your bones due to cartilage loss. Sometimes you may be given a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease. If your doctor suspects you may have an infection in the knee joint they may use a needle to extract a small amount of fluid for analysis.

Treatment of Knee Arthritis

Although there is no cure for knee arthritis, there are treatments that can help you to manage the symptoms. In the early stages, painkillers and therapeutic injections may be sufficient but as the symptoms become more severe, you may need surgery. The most commonly used treatments for knee arthritis include:

  • Painkilling medication and anti-inflammatories. As the condition develops, you may need a stronger dose – talk to your GP or consultant.
  • Physiotherapy. Certain exercises can be used to strengthen the muscles around your knee and increase flexibility. It is important to stay as mobile as possible and low impact exercise, like walking or swimming, is recommended.
  • Occupational Therapy. If everyday activities are becoming difficult, an OT can suggest ways of doing them to avoid putting strain on your damaged knee joint.
  • Therapeutic injections. These are injections of corticosteroids directly into the knee to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In some cases, you may also be offered injections of hyaluronic acid which mimics the effect of natural lubricant found in joints.
  • Knee replacement surgery. If you have severe arthritis, knee replacement surgery can provide lasting pain relief and help you to experience greater quality of life. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be offered a total or partial (unicompartmental) knee replacement. Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss the options with you.


We are an experienced and highly qualified team of orthopaedic surgeons using the latest surgical and non-surgical techniques to eliminate or reduce pain so our patients can experience the best possible quality of life.


Whether you have an existing diagnosis or you are keen to discover what is causing your symptoms, contact us to arrange a consultation. We can organise any tests you require and discuss your treatment options.

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