Arthritis of the Knee – FAQs

What is the best exercise for bad knees?

I encourage my patients to be active, but it’s extremely important to be pain free at the same time. The exercises for bad knees depend on the location of the arthritis. Strengthening exercises can relieve pressure over the joints and it’s important that the patient follows the instructions of the physical therapist or the athletic trainer to determine which muscles need to be developed. The treatment has to be individualized.

Typically, if a certain range or a certain movement causes pain, that movement should be avoided. If the pain is aggravated and the joint is swollen for several days, that particular exercise has to be modified.

Why do my joints make a popping or a crackling noise? Does that mean that I have arthritis?

A popping sound after an injury may be indication that the patient may have a torn issue or a torn meniscus. This injury is associated with increased swelling and pain immediately after the injury.

For conditions like tear in the ligament- a medial collateral ligament, lateral collateral ligament, anterior cruciate, ligament or posterior cruciate ligament, there will be associated instability. In addition, the neurovascular structures around the joint have to be evaluated very closely to ensure there’s no damage there after the injury.

Crackling sounds in the joint may indicate arthritis or the start of arthritis. Arthritis in the joint, especially associated with pain, has to be evaluated further by an orthopedic surgeon.

How much does weight affect arthritis?

The weight passes through the knee joint and if the Body Mass Index (BMI) is high, decrease in the BMI will lead to decrease in the weight passing through joint and therefore decreased pain.

How much weight should I lose to reduce orthopedic pain?

Typically, if you are overweight you need to reduce your BMI to normal which is considered about 25. For moderately to severely obese patients, weight loss surgery is an option.

How is arthritis of the knee diagnosed?

Arthritis of the knee is diagnosed based on clinical symptoms, signs, and using radiological tools, especially X-ray. If arthritis is not seen on X-ray, then MRI will show arthritis in incipient stages.

Is walking good for arthritis in the knee joint?

If it does not cause pain, it’s an excellent exercise. I advise avoiding any type of activities which specifically aggravate the joint pain and would make pain from the arthritis worse.

How do I get rid of water in the knee joint?

Water in the knee joint is really swelling inside the knee joint, suggesting that the joint is inflamed. It could be from arthritis, it could be from a torn meniscus, it could be from a torn ACL. What I tell my patients is, “this means that the joint is crying”. Simply aspiration of the water in the knee will not resolve the knee pain. If the pain is from the arthritis, injection in the joint will usually decrease the inflammation and decrease the swelling, as well as the pain.

What happens with knee arthritis associated with fibromyalgia?

Patients with fibromyalgia have increased pain from arthritis in the joint. In addition, they have pain in many other joints and numerous musculoskeletal issues. I advise rheumatology opinion for patients with knee and hip pain who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Why does it hurt to bend my knee joint?

If it hurts to bend the patient’s knee joint, it typically means that the patient has arthritis under the knee cap. Other symptoms of arthritis under the knee cap include increased pain while squatting and going up and down stairs. Pain under the knee cap could be due to patellofemoral arthritis. One classic symptom of relieving pressure under the knee cap is a “movie theater sign” – in which patients are uncomfortable bending their knees. They therefore keep the ankles on the chair in front of them when they go the movies!

Can a deformity in the knee joint aggravate arthritis.

There are numerous factors that could aggravate arthritis in the knee joint including a deformity. The deformity may be a bow leg or it maybe a knock-knee. Bow legged or a knocked knee increase pressure over one side of the joint because the body weight passes through only one side of the joint and causes and aggravates the arthritis.

In the early of the disease, if the deformity is corrected, the onset of arthritis is delayed and also there’s also a cosmetic advantage in taking care of the deformity.

Other factors that can aggravate arthritis is trauma to the joint where the injury involves the cartridge. In addition, if there is a deformity associated with trauma, (whether it’s outside the joint or inside the joint) and if it affects the mechanics of the joint, it can lead to early arthritis.

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Dr. Nakul Karkare

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