Knee Arthritis is a particularly common degenerative joint disease that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. If you suffer from knee arthritis it may be difficult to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. It is a major cause of lost work time and a serious disability for many people. For those who participate or enjoy a fit and active lifestyle or are active in almost any type of sports activity, knee arthritis can be a real barrier to your performance or even participating at all.
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. Finally, 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. Trauma, “wear and tear,” repetitive stress movements and inflammation can all play a role in the damage of this complex joint and can lead to knee arthritis.
A knee joint affected by arthritis may be painful, stiff and inflamed. Generally, the pain develops gradually over time, although sudden onset is also possible. There may other symptoms, as well. As the joint becomes stiff and swollen, it is often difficult to bend and straighten the knee. Pain and swelling may be worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting. Intense or prolonged activity may cause pain to flare up. If cartilage is damaged or torn, the loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue can interfere with the smooth motion of joints and the knee may "lock" or "stick" during movement. The knee may emit a creaky sound or even, click, snap or make a grinding noise as it flexes. The pain you experience can also be accompanied by a feeling of weakness or buckling. Many people with arthritis actually experience increased joint pain with rainy weather.