What is knee osteoarthritis?

Knee osteoarthritis (O.A) is the progressive loss of articular cartilage and the narrowing of the knee joint spaces as shown in the picture below.

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Articular cartilage wear and tear

 

All three knee compartments – medial (inner), anterior (front) and lateral (outer) – are known to be affected by osteoarthritis, although the medial knee is most commonly affected. The knee becomes stiffer, creates cracking or clicking sounds known as crepitus and feels weaker than before.

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Medial knee osteoarthritis with bow-legs

 

What are the causes of knee osteoarthritis?

  • Wear & tear (degeneration). 
  • Alignment problems like knock-knees and bow-legs and leg length differences.
  • Foot misalignments that cause uneven forces to pass through the knee while walking, standing and during activities.
  • Previous ligamentous and meniscal injury or trauma from falls or accidents.
  • Recurrent patella dislocation or maltracking.
  • Obesity
  • Occupations that require long hours of standing, walking, squatting down or carrying heavy items.

 

knee osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis with knock knees

 

How is the diagnosis made?

Diagnosis of OA can be made based on a clinical examination. X-rays are used to confirm the diagnosis.

What knee osteoarthritis treatments are available?

  • Conservative treatment is able to relieve the pain and slow down the progression of the disease process. Custom made orthotic in-shoe devices are prescribed specifically for the type of knee osteoarthritis present. The aim of this is to correct joint misalignments and to alter the forces that act upon the knees. Various therapies such as shock wave and ultrasound and knee strengthening have been proven to be effective conservative treatments.
  • Certain supplements have also been shown to be beneficial in early knee OA.
  • All forms of conservative treatments for knee OA are available from Singapore’s Family Podiatry Centre. If surgery appears to be the best option, then a suitable referral for a knee replacement or arthroscopy will be made.

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