Living with Arthritis in the Knee
There are three different forms of arthritis that can occur in your knees. The most common is osteoarthritis, a disease that slowly erodes the joint cartilage. This type of arthritis is more common after middle age. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that can happen at any age. When arthritis happens following an injury to the knee, it is called post-traumatic arthritis. It can occur years after a torn meniscus, injury to ligament, or fracture of the knee. Some types of arthritis can cause tiredness.
Gradual Increase in Pain
Arthritis pain can start suddenly, but it is more likely to slowly develop . At first, you might notice pain first thing in the morning or after you have been particularly inactive for a period of time. Climbing stairs, standing up from a sitting position, or kneeling down may cause some pain. Just going for a walk may cause pain. In some cases, you may feel pain when you are doing nothing more than just sitting. Some people with arthritis state that damp weather or other changes in weather can bring on pain. If the pain in your knee wakes you up it could be a symptom of osteoarthritis.
Swelling or Tenderness
Arthritis of the knee may cause intermittent inflammation. This can be because of the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes) or extra fluid in the knee. Puffiness may be more pronounced after a long period of inaction, such as when you first wake up in the morning. The skin on your knee may look red or feel warm to the touch. In time, you may experience prolonged inflammation of the knee that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter medications or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Buckling and Locking
Over time, the muscle strength in your knee may decrease and the whole joint structure can become unstable. Overall weakness in the knee can cause your knee to buckle under you. The joint can also lock up so you are unable to bend it or straighten it out when you want to. You may find that these symptoms come and go for no obvious reason.
Cracking or Popping Sounds
You may have a grinding sensation in your knees as you move, or you might even hear cracking or popping sounds coming from your knees. These symptoms could be occurring because you have lost some of the smooth cartilage that aids the smooth range of motion. If you have arthritis of the knee, the disconcerting noises and the grinding feeling are a result of rough surfaces and bone spurs rubbing over each other as you move your joints.
Poor Range of Motion
Arthritis can make it more and more challenging for the knee joints to slide as they should, making previously simple movements hard or impossible. You are most likely to notice a restricted range of movement when you climb stairs or take part in athletic activities. Osteoarthritis progressively wears away the cartilage. As arthritis worsens, it becomes difficult for joints to function normally and it can become progressively difficult to perform simple everyday tasks. In time, you may have trouble walking without the assistance of a cane or walker.
Loss of Joint Space
X-rays are an excellent diagnostic tool because they can clearly show the loss of joint space that causes those unsettling sounds and poor range of motion. The space that usually allows freedom of movement is lost to bone spurs and other rough surfaces on the ends of bones. Bone spurs can occur when cartilage is worn through, or from calcification. These spurs are a common sign of osteoarthritis.
Deformities of the Knee
As arthritis progresses, you may start to notice changes in the appearance of your knees. It can create a recessed appearance as muscles surrounding the knees thin and weaken. Your knees can start to point toward each other, creating a knock-kneed effect. They can also bend outward, creating a bow-legged look. Deformities of the knee can range from hardly noticeable to rather severe.
Different Aids for People with Arthritis
There are various different aids for people with arthritis in their knees. You could wear a knee brace or a support. Heat pads may also help alleviate symptoms, especially in colder weather. Cod Liver Oil is believed to keep joints supple. Other supplements that may help are Glucosamine which helps maintain connective tissues and cartilage and Chondroitin helps your body attract fluid in to the cartilage.
There are also many aids for around the home for all arthritis sufferers:
In the kitchen. In the kitchen, appliances such as electric tin openers, food processors and mandolins (for slicing) make work easier. Grabbers (long-handled tools with a gripping mechanism) can be used to retrieve items stored high or low. Built-up handles and grips make utensils easier to grasp and put less stress on finger joints. Install a fixed jar opener, or keep a rubber jar opener in the kitchen. Maybe even think about an automatic sensor bin that opens with a wave of your hand, instead of having to press on the bin lid or push a pedal with your foot.
In the bathroom. Bath bars and handrails provide additional stability and security when you are getting in and out of the bath or shower. These are a must if you have problems with balance. Tap levers or tap turners are available if your grip is weak. A raised toilet seat can make it easier to sit down and get up from the toilet. Here again consider an automatic sensor bin.
In the bedroom. When dressing, zipper pulls and buttoning aids can help you fasten clothing. Or you can choose to wear clothing with Velcro fasteners, if available. A long-handled shoehorn extends your reach without bending.