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Knee Osteoarthritis


Knee Osteoarthritis(OA knee)results from thinning of the articular cartilage,that lubricates the adjacent bones surfaces,leading to pain and difficulties in walking or climbing stairs. Conservative treatment like physiotherapy and analgesics are attempted before surgical intervention is recommended


What is Knee Osteoarthritis (OA knee)?

The articular cartilage is a smooth thin lubricating layer covering the ends of the bones that form the knee joint. In osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage has experienced tear and wear resulting in cracks or thinning of the structure. The blood supply to your knee may be reduced, thus delaying the healing process. With your knees having to carry most of your weight all the time, the damage will gradually extend to a greater region. For severe cases of OA knee, the articular cartilage may be reduced till the bones are rubbing directly against each other with minimal lubrication, leading to pain and disability.

The diagnosis of OA knee is usually supported by the patient's medical history, X-rays. Sometimes blood and joint fluid tests are required to exclude systemic diseases.

What are the common causes?

Few factors are likely to contribute to the development of OA knee, include:

  • Previous knee injury
  • Excessive wear and tear of knee joints from high impact activities
  • Increasing age
  • Overweight
  • Tight lower limb muscles
  • Weak lower limb muscles

In certain cases, the cause of OA knee is unknown

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Knee pain that develops gradually, worsens with prolonged walking or standing
  • Morning stiffness and/or swelling
  • Crepitus (cracking or grinding) with knee movements
  • Bumps or nodes may appear around the knee

What are the risk factors?

  • Overweight
  • Involvement in high impact weight bearing activities over prolonged duration

What are types of treatment available?


  • Anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)


  • To reduce pain and swelling
  • Improve range of movement through stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Regain functional movement - movement control training, body weight control, daily functional task modification
  • Your physiotherapist will advise you on the modification of your daily activties to allow functional movement as much as possible


When conservative management fails to improve the condition, invasive interventions can be explored:

What can I do to help myself?

  • If you are overweight, manage your body weight to decrease the weight bore by your knees
  • Strengthening your lower limbs to cope with your daily activities
  • Apply an ice pack whenever you experience swelling after prolonged standing or walking
- Last updated 5 Sep 2011,10:47 am

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