Knee Pain: Do I Have Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition causing pain or loss of function and is the most common type of arthritis affecting more than 27 million people in the U.S., with the knees being one of the most commonly affected areas.

It is a condition that causes cartilage in the joints to break down and abnormal bone growths to develop. These are called bone spurs.

This condition can occur in young people, but the chances of it developing do not increase until around age 45. It is also more likely for women ages 55 and older to have it. Below are several factors to take into consideration, all of which can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis at an earlier age.

Weight: Weight adds pressure onto the joints, but it especially affects the knees. This is something to keep in mind. Every pound of weight adds 3 to 4 pounds of extra weight on to your knees.

Age: Muscle tone and bone strength decrease, and cartilage naturally deteriorates, the older you get. The body does not recover as quickly as it did in younger years.

Repetitive stress injuries: Depending on your job, if you regularly do a lot of kneeling, squatting or lifting heavy items, you tend to put more pressure onto your joints. This adds stress and can cause knee osteoarthritis.

Ways to treat osteoarthritis:

  • Physical therapy and exercise are a great way to treat knee osteoarthritis. It’s helpful to learn patient-specific exercises to stretch inflexible soft tissues and others that build the muscles around the knee. This helps to support the knee joint and reduce the chance of more cartilage loss.
  • When exercising, avoid high impact activities like jogging. Instead, replace it with cycling or swimming, which exert less force on the knee joint.
  • You can loosen a stiff knee joint by simply using a warming pad, whirlpool or icing the knee. This only helps to improve symptoms temporarily. Knee pain will not improve long-term joint function by itself.
  • Knee surgery may be an option if symptoms become too severe and other treatments aren’t successful. The most common surgeries to treat knee arthritis are total knee replacement and cartilage repair and restoration.

Ways to prevent osteoarthritis:

  • Weak muscles around the knee can lead to osteoarthritis. To avoid this, engage in regular exercise, which strengthens the muscles and decreases your risk of this joint condition.
  • Eating more fiber may lower your risk of osteoarthritis, with fruit and whole-grain cereals being great fiber sources. Not only is a diet rich in fiber great for lowering your risk, it also helps to lower blood pressure, weight and reduce inflammation.

If you have any further questions about osteoarthritis of the knee and think you may need surgery, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.

For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.

Children’s Throwing Injuries in the Elbow

As baseball and softball seasons reach their peaks, doctors often see an increase in young athletes’ elbow problems. The human elbow is a joint made up of three bones (humerus, radius and ulna), and held together by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The combination hinge and pivot joint allows the arm to properly bend and rotate. Several muscles, nerves and tendons cross paths at the elbow.

The most common elbow issue in children is medial apophysitis, also known as “Little Leaguer’s elbow.” With this injury, the athlete will likely feel pain along the bump on the inside of the elbow. “Little Leaguer’s elbow” can become a serious issue if left untreated. The condition occurs when tendons and ligaments are repetitively pulled through excessive throwing. In serious cases, the repeated pulling motions can tear away tiny bone fragments, which can disrupt bone growth.

A less common elbow injury that may occur is osteochondritis dissecans. This condition is also caused by excessive throwing patterns, and involves compression of the elbow and the joint smashing immature bones together. This can loosen the bone and cartilage.

A child should stop throwing if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • Elbow pain
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Locking of the elbow joint

These conditions can be treated both non-surgically and surgically, although the latter of the two is not nearly as common.

Non-surgical Treatment

  • Continuing to throw will only further aggravate the elbow.
  • Cold compresses will help eliminate swelling.
  • Alter the child’s throwing technique. If pain persists or gets worse, stop the activity entirely until the child is treated by a physician.

Surgical Treatment

Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be necessary to remove loose bone fragments or reattach a ligament onto a bone.

If your child has an elbow injury, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician. For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.

This blog post was adapted from AAOS.