Do I Have Knee Arthritis?
Arthritis is an incredibly common problem both in the United States and around the world. Many arthritis sufferers do not have a formal diagnosis. They might suspect a problem, but feel like the joint pain is simply “a part of getting older.” The fact is, however, that arthritis is not inevitable. Advancing age is a factor, but you can take steps to control your risk of developing advanced arthritis.
Some forms of arthritis are caused by genetic or immune system factors. Even if you have arthritis from one of these sources, however, you may be able to significantly lower the pain and restricted mobility associated with the condition. Home care and medical treatment can both be of help. Consultation with your primary medical doctor or a rheumatologist (medical arthritis specialist) can be very helpful to seek an initial diagnosis and medical management options. Sometimes, blood work is needed to establish a diagnosis.
How Do You Know if You Have Arthritis?
Knee arthritis consists of a number of common symptoms, which people often overlook. Tenderness, mild to moderate swelling, and redness accompanies a characteristic pain in and around the knee. The affected knee often has limited mobility and may even seem to “lock up” on occasion. Often, early symptoms come and go or are episodic, and sometimes linger after periods of increased activity.
Arthritis presents inflammation in and around soft tissues, particularly in the joints. The knee is just one common area where symptoms can appear. The only way to know for certain whether you have the condition is to see a doctor who specializes in arthritis and related conditions for a diagnosis.
In some cases, lifestyle factors can worsen arthritis. Exercise can lessen or even relieve arthritis pain, but it is a good idea to select a low-impact workout – such as swimming – which does not jolt or place extreme pressure on the knee joints. Ideally, regular exercise should strengthen the muscles that support the joint, helping distribute the work of day-to-day motion more evenly.
Smoking is considered a significant risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory issue caused by an autoimmune malfunction. On the other hand, higher body weight (obesity) is correlated with a greater risk of osteoarthritis, which happens when the flexible tissue “capping” bones wear down.
There are several other forms of knee arthritis, which may require a customized approach.
Managing Arthritis Pain
Certain types of treatment can reduce the pain. This depends on the specific characteristics of your symptoms. Heat therapy, such as a shower or bath, can help with joint stiffness; cold therapy can also bring down swelling. Weight loss and regular exercise can help to moderate the effects of arthritis at virtually any stage of the disease. Managing the symptoms can make a big difference on a day to day basis.
Some non-traditional treatments, like acupuncture, can produce effects for some patients. Many patients have also reported substantial relief from knee arthritis pain after a course of massage therapy. Massage therapy can improve blood circulation in the affected tissues, combat inflammation, and make it easier to maintain a full range of motion.
When Is It Time to See a Doctor?
If you suspect you have knee arthritis, it is a good idea to see a doctor right away. By having a clear diagnosis, you can better understand the severity of your arthritis. This will help you to take greater control over the course of your condition and the care you receive. This is the best first step toward improving quality of life.
When knee arthritis becomes serious, it can impair ordinary daily activities. Some cases are so severe that the pain impacts nearly every daily activity, and some patients can face lasting disability, with impairment of their mobility.
If you suffer from severe knee pain or arthritis or need an opinion about options for knee surgery, please contact the offices of Dr. Lee Rubin, who is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, for a consultation today.