Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Arthritis of the Knee

About Arthritis of the Knee

Arthritis is inflammation in the joints or area of the body where two bones come together. Joints are responsible for the movement of body parts. It is a condition that can be experienced all over the body or in a specific area. The types range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage, such as osteoarthritis to those associated with inflammation resulting from an overactive immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The one part of the body that is most affected by arthritis is the knee. Knee arthritis can be caused from both rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.

The major types of arthritis that can affect the knee joint are:

Osteoarthritis (OA)

  • The most common form of knee arthritis
  • Caused by gradual wear and tear of the cartilage over time
  • More common with increasing age (usually over 50 years old)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • An autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the joint lining
  • Can affect multiple joints including the knees
  • Causes inflammation and cartilage breakdown

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

  • Develops after a knee injury or trauma
  • Injuries to ligaments or cartilage can destabilize the joint and lead to arthritis over time

Common Symptoms

  • Pain in and around the knee, worsened by activity
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Crepitus (grinding, clicking, or cracking sounds)
  • Feeling of instability or “giving way” of the knee
  • Deformities like bow legs or knock knees in advanced cases

Cause & Anatomy

It is not always certain why arthritis of the knee develops. Most physicians believe that it is a combination of factors that can include muscle weakness, obesity, heredity, joint injury or stress, constant exposure to the cold, and aging. Cartilage in the knee begins to break down and leaves the bones of the knee rubbing against each other as you walk. Persons who work in a place that applies repetitive stress on the knees are at a high risk of developing this condition. Bone deformities increase the risk for osteoarthritis of the knee since the joints are already malformed and may contain defective cartilage. Having gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease of bone or septic arthritis can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Some physicians and most podiatrist believe that Pes Planus (flat feet) cause increased rates and earlier incidence of knee osteoarthritis. In a study of army recruits with moderate to severe flat feet, the results showed that they had almost double the rate of knee arthritis when compared to recruits with normal arches.


Diagnosis typically involves:

  • Patient history and physical examination
  • X-rays to assess joint space narrowing, bone spurs, and other changes
  • Blood tests (for rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Occasionally MRI or CT scans to evaluate soft tissues


The key is early diagnosis and management to slow progression and maintain mobility and quality of life as much as possible. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and improve function. Options include:

  • Weight loss and low-impact exercise
  • Medications like NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy for strengthening and flexibility
  • Assistive devices like braces or canes
  • Surgery (arthroscopy, osteotomy, joint replacement) for advanced cases

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