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Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Symptoms and Treatment
Ashley Davis

Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Symptoms and Treatment

What is osteoarthritis of the knee?

Very simply, arthritis is the loss of cartilage, which is what cushions a joint. In the knee, it serves as a pad that helps any time we walk or do any sort of physical activity, keeping the knee mobile and running smoothly. Arthritis can make it difficult to get around as the result of less cushioning.

 

How is osteoarthritis of the knee diagnosed?

If a patient is having stiffness in the morning or increased pain with activities, those could be signs that osteoarthritis of the knee is at play. Aching pain, tenderness, creaking and swelling can be signs as well.

X-rays can help show how much deterioration has occurred in a patient’s knee joint. We can also use MRIs and CT Scans, which show us more detail about the health of the cartilage.

Will a patient with osteoarthritis of the knee require surgery?

Not every patient will require surgery, and the vast majority can be treated without surgery. There are a lot of different treatments to manage arthritis of the knee without going straight into orthopedic surgery. We like to start simple and get more complex if the simpler treatment options don’t work.

What nonsurgical treatment options exist for osteoarthritis of the knee?

We start with different types of braces that can be helpful in alleviating pressure on the knee. We will also try different types of arthritis medications, which are typically prescription anti-inflammatories. Joint supplements can also be helpful.

We encourage people with arthritis to stay as active as they can. Activity helps maintain the health of the joints, and people who exercise regularly tend to have healthier cartilage than people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

There are also injections we can try, such as cortisone, which can help reduce inflammation, or different types of gel injections that can help lubricate the inside of the joints so they move a bit more smoothly.

Finally, one of the new treatments we use is stem cell injections. These injections are taken from a patient’s own blood, and we inject those stem cells back into the knee joint to grow cartilage inside the knee. This treatment has not been perfected yet, but it’s showing promise.

Kevin Quigley, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician with BJC Medical Group. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Quigley by calling 636-561-0871.

To learn more about orthopedics at BJC, visit bjc.org/medical-services/orthopedics

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