Arthritis in the knee occurs when there is "wear and tear" of the bones and cartilage in the knee. Friction on the joint causes pain, stiffness and disability.
Arthritis may occur throughout the knee or just on one side of the
joint, most commonly on the inner side. It can range from mild to severe and knee arthritis symptoms often fluctuate.
11% of people over 64 years of age have arthritis knee pain. There is no one specific cause of arthritis but there are
a number of factors which have been found to be linked with the
condition. Here, we will look at the most common of these factors.
Arthritis in the knee is related to, but not caused by aging, most commonly affecting people over 65. As we age, our bones become more brittle, our muscles often weaken, and the body becomes less efficient at healing itself.
Studies have shown that osteoarthritis is three times more likely in people who are overweight (BMI over 27). The more we weigh, the more weight goes through our bones, and therefore the more likely that the cartilage will get worn away.
However, it is not as simple as saying that if you are overweight you will get arthritis in the knee and if you are thin you won’t.
Women are twice as likely to develop arthritis in the knee than men. The most likely reason for this is hormone levels.
If you have seriously injured your knee joint eg suffered from a meniscus tear in the past, you are
more likely to develop an arthritis in the knee. This is due to changes in the
from the initial injury e.g. a broken bone heals but it will never be
exactly the same as it was before. Knee cartilage in particular is very
slow to heal as it has a poor blood supply making it prone to wear and tear
If you have had to have part of your cartilage removed in the past (menisectomy), that will never have regrown so you are more likely to develop arthritis in the knee.
While we don’t fully understand the link between gene’s and arthritis, a link definitely exists. One example of this is that our gene’s may affect the quality/quantity of our cartilage (some people are born with amazing cartilage, others like me aren’t. Up to 60% of cases of osteoarthritis are thought to be linked with genetics.
Some doctors and podiatrists believe that having flat feet increases the incidence of osteoarthritis of the knee. This is thought to be due to the changes in the way the forces are directed through the knee due to the altered foot position, increasing the wear on parts of the knee - usually the inner side.
A vicious cycle often develops with arthritis knee pain. Because it is painful, you stop moving the knee as much and then as a result the knee gets stiffer, and you lose more movement and so on. The same goes for the strength of the knee. Muscles stay strong by being used.
activities start feeling painful, we tend to avoid them, but then the
muscles get weaker. As a result they can’t support the joint and more
weight ends up going through the bones rather than the muscles and
things get more painful. Yet another vicious cycle. This is why exercises are one of the best arthritis treatment options.
People often find they go through good spells and bad spells with arthritis. Some attribute it to the weather. Stress and tiredness often makes things worse.
For hints and tips on overcoming arthritis or for more
information on how to tell if you have arthritis in the knee, visit these following sections: