The diagram to the right illustrates two types of knee arthritis compared to a non-arthritic, healthy knee.
The knee joint consists of three bones: femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). Between the femur and tibia is a piece cartilage called the meniscus; this cartilage acts as a shock absorber. Arthritis is a disease that breaks down cartilage over time.
Three types of arthritis that affect the knee:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): OA is the most common form of knee arthritis. It is a degenerative disease of the joint, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis that usually affects middle-aged and older patients.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): RA is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks normal tissues in the joints such as the lining of the joints, cartilage, and bone. RA is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis, usually affecting both sides of the body equally. RA causes pain and swelling of joints and can affect patients of any age.
- Post-Traumatic Arthritis: Post-traumatic arthritis is similar to OA and can develop years after an injury to the knee.
- Buckling/locking sensation
- Decreased range of motion
- Pain is worse in the morning
- Pain with:
- Daily activity
- Climbing stairs
- Change in weather
If your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks and interfere with daily activity you should consult your primary care physician for a referral.
What To Expect During Your Appointment:
During your appointment, Dr. Betz will perform a physical exam to test range of motion in the knee and the leg strength. In-office imaging may be done or an MRI may be set up to diagnose the cause of your pain. Once the results of your imaging come back, Dr. Betz will provide treatment options and help you decide the course of action that is best for you.
Dr. Betz performs an in-office exam on the patient to test range of motion in the knee joint.
- Supportive Devices: in the early stages of the disease, the use of shoe inserts and/or braces may help relieve pain. In later stages, the use of a cane may also help relieve some of the stress on the joint.
- Medication: non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often prescribed to minimize swelling and pain. There are also specific medications to help reduce the effects of RA.
- Physical Therapy: strengthening the knee will help relieve pain. Stretching is also performed to help regain mobility.
- Injections: If the other non-surgical treatments fail, Dr. Betz can use injections to help reduce pain.
- Steroid Injection (Cortisone): steroids are proven to be very effective at reducing inflammation and pain when injected directly into the joint space.
- Lubricating Injections: lubricating injections use a synthetic joint fluid (such as hyaluronic acid) to help smooth the cartilage of the knee which can relieve pain associated with arthritis.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): your own blood is used to extract platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected into your knee joint. The platelets within the plasma stimulate the body to repair itself.
If non-surgical methods fail to improve pain, Dr. Betz will discuss surgery as an option. Each patient is different, therefore surgical plans vary greatly depending on the patient’s needs and stage of arthritis.
For postoperative patients: