Wear & Tear of the Knee (Osteoarthritis)

Wear and Tear, or ‘Osteoarthritis’ of the knee is a common cause of knee pain. Whilst OA knee can present as early as the 30s and 40s, it becomes progressively more common in later life.

Osteoarthritis of the knee may have no obvious cause other than ‘fair wear and tear’. However, previous sports injury, mal-alignment of the leg as the result of previous fractures, family history or being significantly overweight may pre-dispose to developing OA of the knee.

The pain of osteoarthritis is typically present early in the day and may improve as one gets going. Pain may be aggravated by rising from a chair or by using the stairs and by walking. Stiffness, night pain and reduction in walking distance are also common as symptoms progress.

Symptoms of early knee arthritis may be managed conservatively. Simple analgesia, lifestyle modification with weight loss and use of walking aids may be helpful. Physiotherapy may also be useful in the early stages. Acute flare-ups may respond to a steroid and local anaesthetic injection.

When symptoms persist or deteriorate despite conservative measures surgery may be required. Knee arthroscopy with trimming of degenerate meniscal tears and smoothing of rough areas on the joint surfaces can produce good symptomatic relief. The extent and duration of pain relief achieved by arthroscopy can vary but may delay the need for more major surgery.

Ultimately, however, the treatment choice for advanced osteoarthritis of the knee is Knee Replacement (Arthroplasty). When wear and tear involves all compartments of the knee, Total Knee Replacement is indicated. If the wear is limited to one or two compartments a Partial or Uni-Compartmental Knee Replacement may be appropriate.

Your VITA Orthopaedics consultant will be able to advise you on the options most suited to your individual circumstances. We are the South West’s leading orthopaedic surgery trio and we have vast experience in carrying out all manner of successful knee procedures.

Knee replacement surgery, whether total or partial, involves an inpatient stay of 3 to 5 days. Physiotherapy and mobilization begins on the first post-operative day and most patients use crutches for approximately 6 weeks. Full recovery is expected by 3 to 4 months with complete satisfaction in terms of function and pain relief being reported in over 90% of cases”.

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