Arthritis within the knee is the end stage of wear and tear. For various reasons including trauma or alignment problems the cartilage or gristle that lines the ends of the bones of the knee joints and provides a smooth bearing surface can start to wear away.
Symptoms of early wear
The end stage of this is when there is no cartilage left and the bones of the joint are rubbing on each other. This is the indication for a knee replacement or partial knee replacement.
However wear in the knee can cause pain and disability within the knee at any point in the change from a normal knee to a fully arthritic knee. There will therefore be a large number of patients whose knee isn’t bad enough for a knee replacement but whose knee joint is preventing them from being as active as they would like because the cartilage is partially worn.
Treatment options for early wear
The options for treatment at this stage begin with non surgical approaches which can be very beneficial. Physiotherapy, weight loss and activity modification can reduce the pain experienced and the loss of function and should always be tried first.
There are various types of injections for pain relief.
If wear is on one side of the joint which is frequently the case the worn side can be offloaded by wearing an offloaded brace or more permanently by changing the changing the alignment of the joint by a procedure called an osteotomy.
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