Arthritis of the knee is a chronic and degenerative process where cartilage is lost on the gliding surfaces of the femur and tibia. That is to say, cartilage, which is the shiny white material on the end of a bone, is lost and the ends of the bones come into contact with each other. This can be compared to the tread on a tire decreasing thickness over time. Therefore, arthritis is the decrease or lack of cartilage within a given joint. The symptoms of arthritis include recurrent swelling, generalized or localized pain, and stiffness. These are symptoms that operative and non-operative treatments aim to resolve.
The treatment for arthritis is based around improving function and pain. Many times arthritis can be treated with non-operative measures including anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, meloxicam, and naproxen), intra-articular injections/steroid injections, physical therapy, visco supplementation (Synvisc, Orthrovisc, etc.) and special knee orthotics including unloader braces. If these measures fail, knee surgery or a knee replacement may be appropriate. This is an important conversation to have with your surgeon.
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