Understanding Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of OA of the knee include:

  • Pain while standing or walking short distances, climbing up or down stairs, or getting in and out of chairs
  • Pain with activity
  • Start up pain or stiffness when activities are initiated from a sitting position
  • Joint stiffness after getting out of bed
  • Swelling in one or more areas of the knee
  • A grating sensation or crunching feeling in the knee during use

How is OA of the knee diagnosed?

Your physician will begin by reviewing your medical history and symptoms. He or she will observe the natural movement of your knee, evaluate your knee and ankle joint alignment, and check your reflexes, muscle strength, range of motion and ligament stability in the affected knee. Your physician may order x-rays to determine how much joint or bone damage has been done, how much cartilage has been lost and if there are bone spurs present. Additional medical imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to determine exactly where the damage is and its extent. Your physician may also order blood tests to rule out other causes of symptoms, or order a joint aspiration which involves drawing fluid from the joint through a needle and examining the fluid under a microscope.

How is OA treated?

Whether your OA is mild or severe, your physician will most likely recommend certain lifestyle changes to reduce stress on your knee joints. Additional disease and pain management strategies may include: physical therapy, steroid injections, over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or topical pain relieving creams. Please speak with your physician if your symptoms aren’t responding to non-surgical solutions, or your pain can no longer be controlled by medication. You could be a candidate for MAKOplasty.