Osteoarthritis is when the smooth surface of joint cartilage wears away to expose the underlying bone.
It often causes joint swelling and stiffness. The pain is typically a dull ache but it can cause sharp pains too. Most pains start off with exercise but as the condition progresses patients can experience pain at rest and/or at night.
Factors which can lead to osteoarthritis include:
1. Hereditary (genetic) factors i.e. passed down in families
2. The alignment (shape) of the leg and the distribution of weight through the knee
3. Type and amount of activities (work & sport)
4. Previous knee injuries including fractures and ligament ruptures
5. Previous removal or damage to meniscal (shock absorber) cartilages
Arthritis is usually diagnosed with X-rays (taken when weight-bearing) which help to show which parts of the knee are affected.
The early stages of arthritis can usually be well managed with non-operative treatments – for example, pain control medication, strengthening exercises and weight reduction. If these treatments are no longer effective there are different surgical options available. Your consultant will discuss all the options available to you, so you are fully informed before making any decisions.