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Osteoarthritis of the knee

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How is the knee structured?

Your knee joint is where your thigh bone (femur) and your shin bone (tibia) meet. It allows the bones to move freely but within limits. When your knee has osteoarthritis its surfaces become damaged and it doesn’t move as well as it should do. Read more >

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee include:
  • pain
  • stiffness
  • a grating or grinding sensation (crepitus) when you move the joint
  • soft or hard swellings.
Read more >

What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?

Almost anyone can get osteoarthritis of the knee but you’re at a greater risk if:
  • you’re in your late 40s or older
  • you’re overweight
  • you're a woman
  • your parents had it
  • you’ve had a previous joint injury
  • your joints have been damaged by another disease (e.g. gout or rheumatoid arthritis).
Read more >

What is the outlook for osteoarthritis of the knee?

Osteoarthritis of the knee affects different people in different ways. Sometimes it can develop over just a year or two, but more often it’s a slow process that develops over many years and causes small changes, although it may still be painful. Read more >

What are the possible complications of osteoarthritis of the knee?

There can sometimes be rarer complications with osteoarthritis of the knee, including deposits of calcium crystals in your cartilage and cysts forming at the back of your knee. Read more >

How is osteoarthritis of the knee diagnosed?

Your doctor will make a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee based on your symptoms and an examination. They may also suggest you have some tests. Read more >

What can I do to help myself if I have osteoarthritis of the knee?

Try the following tips to help ease your symptoms:
  • use over-the-counter painkillers (e.g. paracetamol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are available as tablets or creams and gels that you rub into the affected area
  • lose weight if you’re overweight
  • exercise regularly (both muscle-strengthening exercise and general aerobic exercise)
  • use heat/ice packs
  • try complementary therapies
  • use gadgets and home adaptations
  • learn pain management and relaxation techniques.
Read more >

What treatments are there for osteoarthritis of the knee?

Your treatment will vary depending on how severe your pain is. You may find that a combination of over-the-counter painkillers and self-help methods are all you need, but if your pain is severe your doctor may suggest the following treatment: Read more >

Living with osteoarthritis of the knee

It’s important to tackle any issues you have early on – speak to family, friends or your doctor if the osteoarthritis is getting you down. Read more >

Research and new developments for osteoarthritis of the knee

Researchers funded by Arthritis Research UK have developed a device which could help GPs to make a quicker diagnosis. Read more >

Exercises to manage knee pain

Exercises designed to strengthen and stabilise the structures that support the knee. Read more >


Photo of Christine Walker

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