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What is the outlook for osteoarthritis of the knee?

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Osteoarthritis of the knee affects different people in different ways, so we can’t predict how it’ll progress.

Sometimes it can develop over just a year or two and cause a lot of damage to your joints, which can lead to deformity or disability. But more often it’s a slow process that develops over many years and causes small changes in just part of a joint, although it may still be painful.

Sometimes the condition peaks after a few years and your symptoms remain the same or even get easier.

If you have severe osteoarthritis your cartilage can become so thin that it no longer covers the ends of your bones. They start to rub against each other and eventually wear away. This can alter the shape of your joint, forcing your bones out of their normal position.

In addition, the muscles that move your knee gradually weaken and become thin or wasted. This can make your knee unstable so that it gives way when you put weight on it.

Changing your lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of your osteoarthritis getting worse. Regular exercise, protecting your knee from further injury and keeping to a healthy weight will all help. You can read more about these self-help tips in the Self-help and daily living section.

Osteoarthritis doesn’t lead to other types of joint disease and won’t spread through your body. However, deformity caused by osteoarthritis in your knee may mean you put more pressure on your other joints, which could result in osteoarthritis in those joints.

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