Knee Arthritis: Types, Treatments and Assistive Living Devices


The most common types of knee arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis. With all these types, the symptoms range from mild to severe pain, and the treatment varies from suggestions for weight loss or drug regimens to full joint replacement.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee occurs when the cartilage of the knee wears away and the bones begin to rub against each other causing pain and swelling. Age, obesity, hereditary and weak muscles around the knee all are factors for developing osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee include pain, which usually starts out as a mild pain and gradually worsens, but sudden debilitating pain occurs sometimes. Often the knee buckles or locks, and pain and swelling occur during periods of inactivity such as in the morning after sleeping all night. Activity such as kneeling and stair climbing can also increase pain and swelling.

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Knee

Rheumatoid arthritis of the knee occurs when immune system of the body attacks the joints and generally it affects in both knees. This arthritis causes severe pain and stiffness and sometimes affects heart, skin and lungs and other organs and tissues. Feelings of fatigue, flu-like symptoms, warmth around the knee joint, fever and weight-loss are common symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Ideally, early and aggressive treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of the knee, which includes anti rheumatic drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes low doses of steroids, is the best treatment. Exercise is also an important part of the treatment plan.

Post-Traumatic Knee Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis of the knee appears when a fracture, ligament injury or meniscus tear happens to the knee. The overall symptom of this type of arthritis is long lasting aches and pains in the knee. It is generally a dull pain that gets better as you move it but sometimes too much movement results in more pain.

Exercise for Arthritis Knees

Through the years, some claimed exercise facilitated arthritis in the knee, while others believe exercise prevented it. Following numerous studies, exercise by itself does not increase the risk of developing arthritis in the knees. As long as the exercise does not result in traumatic injury to the joint, moderate and even vigorous exercise will not increase your risk of knee arthritis.

With approval of your doctor, an exercise program will increase your mobility and decrease your pain without damaging the knee as well as:

  • Strengthen muscles surrounding the knee
  • Maintain bone strength
  • Keep a healthy body weight
  • Increase your overall energy levels

Your doctor and/or physical therapist can recommend an appropriate and safe exercise program for you to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Overweight and Obesity

Dieting and exercise are effective treatments for the symptoms of knee arthritis. Reducing the weight that the knee joint has to support, eases the stress on the joint and in turn reduces the pain and grinding of bone on bone. In a study that compared people who merely dieted, those who only exercised and those who both dieted and exercised, those who dieted as well as exercised showed a significant reduction in pain.

Arthritis Living Aids

Knee braces are often affective for reducing the pain due to arthritis. They effectively shift your weight off the most damaged part of the knee and they come in a variety of designs. Some studies have suggested that even lateral insoles in shoes can relieve some of the pain associated with arthritis of the knee.

You can choose from a variety of products to help you get out of chairs, out of bed or moving around the bathroom. Raised toilet seats, bathtub grab bars and canes and walking sticks all promote independence for your personal care.

If you are experiencing pain and swelling in your knees, you should consult a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. If you have arthritis, starting a treatment regimen as soon as possible may keep you from having to undergo major surgery for joint replacement, which is the treatment of last resort. Knee arthritis is a painful condition, but with the proper treatment and aids, you can participate in an active life style.

 Assistive Aids for Arthritis of the Knee

Mobility Scooters - Like wheelchairs, mobility scooters help disabled persons to move around relatively quickly and safely.

Walking Canes - These sticks provide balance, helping you to get around safely and avoid falls.

Raised Toilet Seat - an elevated toilet seat can assist you in maintaining joint stability, preventing injury and keeping your dignity.

Bathroom Grab Bars - position these safety devices around your bathroom so you have stability in the shower, by the toilet and while walking around.

Thermoskin Arthritis Knee Wrap - This simple to wear medical device helps reduce strain and pressure while also minimizing swelling to help you retain full function.

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