Arthritis is a very common name used to describe different conditions that affect your body’s joints. By joints, we mean the places in your body where bones are connected together (i.e.: hips, knees, wrists, etc.). In today’s article, we are going to cover knee arthritis. Specifically, what does arthritis in the knee feel like, what causes it and how you can get some relief from it.
Types of Arthritis
It’s important to note that there are a few different varieties of knee arthritis:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – RA is an autoimmune disease can affect any of the major and minor joints and people who suffer from it tend to have the following symptoms: inflammation, fatigue, loss of weight, fever, etc.
- Osteoarthritis (OA) – is considered a degenerative disease that typically involves the knees, hips, and some of the smaller joints as well. This type of arthritis is often called the “wear and tear” arthritis since it is caused by cartilage and cushioning in your knee breaking down, causing bone on bone friction.
The rest of this article will focus on Osteoarthritis (OA) since it’s one of the major causes of knee pain and the most common type of arthritis in the knee.
Interesting Yet Scary Statistics
According to researchers, osteoarthritis typically affects middle-aged people and statistics show that from 2013 to 2015, an estimated 54.4 million US adults, 22.7%, are reported to have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout. Prevalence of arthritis increases with age from around 2% among individuals younger than 45 to more than 80% among those aged 75 and older.
Further statistics show that over the past several decades in the United States, the prevalence of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis has been increasing, concurrent with the aging population as well as the growing obesity epidemic. Approximately 2 million individuals under the age of 45 and 6 million folks between 45 and 64 have claimed to have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.
What Does Arthritis in the Knee Feel Like?
Here are some of the common symptoms of which may help you identify osteoarthritis, or at least have some idea on what to talk to your doctor about during your next visit:
- Gradual increase in pain – Pain is the most common complaint and is usually felt when trying to straighten or fully bend your knee (i.e.: squatting position). Arthritis pain is more likely to grow slowly, which makes it tricky to pinpoint. Your knees may hurt when you climb the stairs, stand from a sitting position or even when you kneel. In some cases, the knee is often sore when you touch it. People typically describe arthritis pain as being like a nagging toothache.
- Swelling – Another common symptom of arthritis is knee inflammation. This can be due to the formation of bone spurs and/or added fluids in your knee. When you look at the skin of the knee, you may realize it is red or feels warm to the touch. And with time, you can experience chronic knee swelling which does not get better with anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Stiffness and decrease in mobility – Stiffness is another common symptom of knee arthritis. Stiffness may limit how much you tend to bend or even straighten your knee. Stiffness can be pronounced after an extended period of rest or inactivity, such as when you wake up in the morning or when you get up from sitting for an extended period of time. The stiffness typically eases after a couple of minutes moving around. Unfortunately, the stiffer you get, the more the mobility and function of your knee joint is decreased, making it more and more difficult to carry out your daily activities. In time, you may even have trouble walking without the cane or walker.
- Creaking, crunching, and grinding sensation – When you walk around, you might feel a grinding sensation in your knees. You may even hear cracking/popping sounds. This tends to happen when you have lost some of the smooth cartilage in your joint which helps with mild motion range or when you have bone spurs rubbing against one another as you move.
One major complaint you will often hear from arthritis sufferers is that you never know when the pain will kick in. On good days you will feel great while on other days, the pain can sometimes be excruciating. Symptoms of knee arthritis can often be worse during these times:
- You aren’t feeling well – inflammatory chemicals tend to be released into your system when you’re ill hence increasing arthritis knee pain.
- Severe weather – some people find that weather changes, especially low pressure, and damp weather, make their pain and stiffness worse. This may due to nerve fibers in the capsule of their knee are very sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure.
- When you are tired/stressed/anxious – during these times, chemicals are released in your body which makes us feel the pain even more.
What Causes Arthritis in the Knee?
Age is the most common cause of osteoarthritis of the knee. A high percentage of people will develop some degree of arthritis in their knees. However, there are several factors which may increase the risk.
- Age – if you are in your late 40s or older, the risk of getting osteoarthritis is higher. This might be due to your muscles having grown weaker and your body is less capable of healing itself. Or if your joints have progressively worn out over time.
- Gender – women age 55 or older tend to experience osteoarthritis more than men.
- Heredity – if your parents or siblings have had arthritis in the knee, then your chances of developing it is higher.
- Repetitive stress injuries – If you have a particular responsibility, job or hobby which involves lots of activity which can stress the joint, like squatting, kneeling, or lifting heavy weights, you are more likely to develop arthritis in the knee due to constant pressure on the joints.
- Other illnesses – if you have another type of joint disease like rheumatoid arthritis or gout, you are also more likely to developing arthritis.
Things You Can Do to Relieve the Pain
Right now, there is no permanent cure for arthritis, however there are a lot of things that you can to do to improve your situation and reduce the possibilities of it getting worse:
- Exercise – you will need to do strengthening exercises as well as aerobic exercises to help ease the stiffness and reduce pain.
- Weight loss – reducing the amount of weight you place on your joints may alleviate some of the pain.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers.
- Injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid into your knee.
- Knee braces designed specifically for arthritis.
- Avoiding long periods of inactivity (e.g.: when at work, set a reminder to walk around for a few minutes every half hour.)
We hope this article gives you a better understanding of what arthritis in the knee feels like and how to get some relief. If you suffer from arthritis, we’d love you get feedback from you. How long you’ve been dealing with it, what triggers the pain, how you handle it, etc. Just use the comment box below. Until next time!
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to provide medical advice. The information on “What Does Arthritis in the Knee Feel Like?” was posted for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Read full disclaimer.