Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee – also known as gonarthrosis – is the most common knee condition. Even though it is not a disease but rather a form of arthritis, it severely affects the life of the person suffering from it. 

In fact, osteoarthritis of the knee is quite painful simply because the joint is so active.

In this article, our experts will outline the common signs and symptoms of this kind of osteoarthritis, as well as its causes.


Knee Pain

The knee is one of the joints that absorbs the most pressure in our day-to-day movements. These small impacts, accumulated over decades of active life, very often cause symptoms such as knee pain. The main culprit of this pain is osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

Among the most common types of pain are:

  • Deep pain in the knee
  • A feeling of increased pressure in the various parts of the joint
  • Pain that radiates throughout the knee, worsened by movement (bending, extending)
  •  Stiffness in all the structures of the knee


The causes of knee pain

Our experts have identified specific situations that exacerbate pain caused by OA of the knee:

  • Standing up or bending down
  • Resting after moderate to high intensity activities
  • Getting out of bed in the morning
  • Simply walking
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Many postures (crossing the legs, twisting the body, bending or extending the knee)


Difficulties With Normal Movements                         

Joint pain also means that day-to-day joint movement is more difficult. In fact, OA of the knee can cause pain that is so severe that it interferes with the natural movement of the joint. In many cases, the simple act of bending or slightly flexing the knee causes unbearable pain.          


The cause of difficulties with normal movements

Pain: the main concern is the pain. The nervous system, by its very nature, avoids certain joint movements to keep musculoskeletal pain from worsening. These automatic reflexes are essential: they protect the body from injury or possible complications by interpreting pain as a warning sign.


Swollen joints        

Swelling of the joint is one of the most common signs of OA of the knee, revealing inflammation. This excess of liquid causes the well-known medical condition “water on the knee.” 


The cause of swollen joints

It is important to understand that inflammation (swelling) is a natural reaction of the body’s defense system. In the case of an injury or medical condition (such as OA of the knee), the body sends out certain cells, including white blood cells, to protect and repair the affected areas. These cells are carried in the inflammatory liquid to the afflicted body part.


Muscle And Joint Stiffness                   

In most cases, OA of the knee causes a kind of discomfort that those suffering from it describe as stiffness. This stiffness makes the sufferer feel like the parts of the knee are stuck together. 


The cause of muscle and joint stiffness

Stiffness in the tissues of the knee joint is caused by one very specific factor: inflammation. When the knee is at rest, certain components of the inflammatory liquid settle on the joint tissues. Then, when starting to move again, these tissues must compensate for the ensuing stiffness. After a few minutes of movement, which are more painful than normal, the patient notices that the joint “warms up.” The pain usually decreases considerably as the stiffness subsides.


Feeling Of Friction Between The Bones

More rarely, patients feel friction between the knee bones. Although this sensation is not always painful, it often quickly gets worse.


Causes of this feeling of friction

As mentioned, OA of the knee is caused by a degeneration of the cartilage over years of impact. The thinning of this natural layer of protection, as well as a decrease in synovial liquid, makes the joint more vulnerable to pressure and friction, leading to this sensation.


As more and more people are diagnosed with this condition, it is important to see a professional. To learn more about this condition, read our article: KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

If you experience one or several of these signs and symptoms, immediately contact an orthotist-prosthetist such as one at your local Médicus clinic.


Validated by Emmanuel Beauchemin, Head clinician at Médicus

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