What is Knee Osteoarthritis? (Causes and Symptoms)

by Jun 13, 2018Anatomy, Health and Wellness, Injuries

Do I have Knee Osteoarthritis?

The large femur (thigh bone) is separated from the tibia (shin bone) by cartilage, a strong type of tissue that acts as a shock absorber within the knee. With knee osteoarthritis, the cartilage within the knee joint begins to deteriorate, which can lead to rubbing between the bones within the knee joint as well as the development of bone spurs called osteophytes.  

The image on the right shows the development of severe knee osteoarthritis. However knee osteoarthritis progresses slowly over time. But with the proper management through exercise and stretching, knee osteoarthritis can be slowed down.

knee osteoarthritis

The image on the right is an example of severe knee osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

The most common signs and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are:

  • Knee pain – pain may be constant, dull and achy or pain may become severe with certain activities or movements.

  • Pain with certain activities – such as bending, kneeling, squatting, or stair climbing.

  • Worse pain with inactivity – Knee pain may be worse after prolonged inactivity or rest, such as getting out of bed in the morning.

  • Knee stiffness – the knee will become stiff and inflexible

  • Knee swelling – the knee may be red and swollen to touch

Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis

  • Advancing age

  • Family history

  • Previous knee injury

  • Excess Weight/Obesity

Your doctor can diagnose knee osteoarthritis through the use of a physical exam, X-ray or an MRI.

Osteoarthritis Stages

Knee Osteoarthritis from Mild to Severe.

The Good News

The good news is that knee osteoarthritis is very manageable, and with proper treatment and exercise, further damage to cartilage can be significantly slowed with proper management. Treatment will potentially, include anti-inflammatory medication, exercise, stretching and modification of activities.

Proper exercise is key to managing knee osteoarthritis. Check out “Should I Exercise if I have Knee Osteoarthritis? to read more about the management of knee osteoarthritis through exercise, and how our kinesiology team or physiotherapy team can help.