Why does osteoarthritis cause knee pain?

Osteoarthritis or osteoarthritis "by use and wear" is a systemic and degenerative disease that can affect any joint of the human body. It often develops due to the wear and tear of the protective cartilages found at the ends of the bones. Does osteoarthritis cause knee pain?

Although there are several conditions and injuries that can affect the ailments of this joint, osteoarthritis is the chronic pathology that most affects it. In fact, one of the most common forms of this disease is known as knee osteoarthritis.

Its appearance is frequent in people of middle and old age, being one of the main reasons for disability. However, Several therapies and treatments are available that help to cope with the pain even though there is no definitive cure for the underlying progressive process.

What is knee osteoarthritis and why does it cause pain?

To understand why osteoarthritis causes knee pain it is important to address the development of this pathology on the joint. While any part of the body can be affected, a large number of cases result from the deterioration of the cartilages that cover the bones that are part of the knees.

Articular cartilages are soft and slippery tissues that have the function of covering, protecting and cushioning the ends of the bones of the knee. That's why, when they wear out or suffer some damage, this articulation he loses his ability to flex and move normally.

Also, since an inflammatory process originates, triggers chronic pain episodes that increase with the passage of time. Therefore, if the person does not follow a treatment to reduce their progression, over the years their movements are limited and suffer more severe symptoms.

How is osteoarthritis of the knee classified?

Osteoarthritis causes knee pain according to the degree of development in which it is. Therefore, when giving a diagnosis the three ways in which the disease is classified are taken into account. A person may have the following types of knee osteoarthritis:

Mild knee osteoarthritis

Patients who have this type of osteoarthritis only present discomfort after great physical efforts. On the other hand, when doing a simple knee radiography Clear alterations are not yet shown.

Moderate knee osteoarthritis

In this case there are already some perceptible changes when performing a knee X-ray. Episodes of pain are manifested after standing for a long time or when doing moderate exercises. Likewise, the symptoms appear and reappear several times a year.

Severe knee osteoarthritis

When it reaches a state of severity, osteoarthritis causes prolonged knee pain, even after mild exertion. As usual, patients feel stiffness and pain in the first 20 minutes of the day, although the symptom decreases as the hours pass.

At this point there are several episodes of joint effusion with the inflamed knee. Consequently, episodes of pain are more frequent and can affect the ability to move. In the radiography you can appreciate obvious signs of cartilage deterioration.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee

The symptoms of a patient with osteoarthritis may vary according to the degeneration of the cartilage. However, at a general level, Its clinical manifestations are pain, inflammation and functional impotence. This last symptom is the inability that the person presents to execute all the degrees of movement of the knee.

Inflammation, which in turn is the reason why osteoarthritis causes knee pain, occurs because a excess synovial fluid inside the joint. Then, by preventing the normal support of the affected lower limb, it limits their movements and reduces the quality of life. In summary, symptoms may include:

  • A pain that increases in the morning and decreases after a period of "warming" the knee.
  • Stiffness sensation after periods of inactivity.
  • Prolonged pain processes after bending the knees (for example, when sitting for a long time).
  • Intense pain that increases with movement.

Why is it important to receive a timely diagnosis?

It is essential to take into account that all types of osteoarthritis worsen with the passage of time. Because, The faster the diagnosis, the better the prognosis and the results of the treatment. The doctor may recommend a series of x-rays to confirm this disease.

Through these tests you can verify how big the damage of the cartilage is and if the joint space that separates the bones of the knee has diminished. Once analyzed at what level of development is the problem, the professional can suggest:

  • Changes in lifestyle (food and low impact physical activity)
  • Exercises with the physiotherapist
  • Weight loss in case of overweight and obesity
  • Use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Surgery (Arthroscopy or joint replacement, only in severe cases)

In summary, the reason why osteoarthritis causes knee pain is because of inflammatory process that derives from the wear of the articular cartilage. Since it is a progressive disease, it is essential to access treatment as soon as possible.