Causes and Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Our knee joint is where the femur and tibia meets. This unique combination allows a wide range of motion for the knee under undisturbed conditions. However due to certain complications such as injuries, the surface of the knee joint is damaged and mobility is hindered as a result. There are basically 3 kinds of arthritis affecting the knee: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Post-trauma Arthritis. In this article, we will be looking at the causes and symptoms of knee arthritis.


We must first understand the differences between the 3 kinds of knee arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis and is a degenerative disease that is often accompanied by ageing. Due to wear and tear, the joint cartilage starts to wear off and this results in pain and inflammation when the knee joint rubs against each other. On the other hand, unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which our body’s immune system attacks the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can happen to anyone from any age group. Last but not least is post-trauma arthritis which is essentially caused by direct trauma to the knee. This direct trauma causes damage to the cartilage and changes the joint mechanics, accelerating wear and tear.



Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something located somewhere in your body is wrong. Pain is due to the secretion of chemical signals to your brain which are then recognised as pain. Knee arthritis causes inflammation to the affected joint. This inflammation causes swelling and damages the surrounding soft tissues. In an attempt to reduce stresses on the injured part, the surrounding muscles will try to overload themselves but this will cause muscle soreness after a period of time, contributing to the pain experienced.


Crepitus is characterised by a creaking and grinding sensation when you attempt to move your injured joint.  This is due to cartilage wear down in the spaces between the knee joints. Crepitus can be painful or painless depending on individual conditions.

Knee giving way

Some patients may experience sensations of their knee giving way. This is due to the joint being unstable and the surrounding muscles being fatigued from having to take over the duties of the injured joint. Patients may require walking aids such as a walker or crutches and may use knee braces to stabilise and provide support to the knee joint.

There are various methods of managing arthritis ranging from oral supplements to surgery. However, these do not effectively heal the patient. Scientists are looking at cartilage transplants in the future which could lessen the amount of pain.

Top 3 Most Knee Damaging Activities

Living an active lifestyle is great and the health benefits associated are undisputable. Exercising regularly is important to strengthen our muscles and better support our joints. Weak joints will increase the chances of misalignment for the bones, ligaments and tendons. However, it may also cause problems for your knee. Our knee has to bear the brunt of our body weight and activities such as running and jumping will cause a lot of compressive stresses on the knee and wearing out the cartilage. Although our knee is designed to take all these things thrown at it, it will give way eventually. There are some activities that are especially damaging towards the knee and let’s explore them further.

Activities are classified into 2 different groups, namely low-impact and high-impact. Low impact exercises as the name suggests does not cause much problems for the knee. They include yoga, swimming, cycling and walking. These activities ensure that the knee is properly supported even though it’s being used extensively. Another group is the high-impact group which includes jumping, running and weightlifting.


Jumping is a high-impact activity that places tremendous stresses on the knee whenever you land. Your body weight is amplified through jumping and landing awkwardly places even more stresses, leading to a weight of roughly twice your original weight. Activities that require jumping as core such as basketball should be avoided by people with bad knees.


Running is another high impact activity that is bad for knees. However, running methods and surfaces can be changed to allow a lesser impact on the knees. For example, striking the floor with your mid-foot is less damaging compared to a heel strike. Also, there is a push towards barefoot running which supposedly reduces injuries. The running surface can be changed to a softer one such as natural grass or stadium tracks. The soft surface can help to cushion and absorb some of the impact.


Weightlifting requires flexing of the knee joint and your knees not only have to bear your body weight, it now has to take both your body weight and the free weight into consideration. This places an absurd amount of stress on your knee and this is further intensified when you attempt to bend and stand up.  Not only does your knee get damaged, the surrounding tissues such as the tendons and ligaments can easily tear.

Knowing what are the activities that causes huge stresses on your knee is important so that you can make an informed decision on what to do and what not to do. You need a functional knee every day and you do not wish to be inconvenienced by a knee injury that you can easily avoid.


4 Steps To Reduce Risk of ACL Injury


There are 4 main ligaments in our knee which gives rise to the stability. The ligaments work together to prevent excessive motion to the knee joint and prevent over stretching which might lead to injuries. The most important ligament out of the 4 is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). However, ACL injuries are also the most common ligament injury and many teenagers have had ACL reconstruction performed on them. So what are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of ACL injury?

Before knowing how to reduce the risk of ACL injuries, you should understand how does the ACL tear. ACL tears occur due to a sudden twisting action, causing tremendous stress on the ligaments and ultimately rupturing the ACL. This is much more common in sports such as rugby, basketball and soccer which involves constant knee twisting and sudden changes in direction where the foot is still firmly rooted in the ground while the knee twists, instantly tearing the ACL.

Leg muscle strengthening

Leg muscle strengthening exercises will help to increase leg strength and lead to a more stable knee joint. A strong knee joint can help to resist sudden movement and hold the ligaments firmly in place during sudden twisting actions, reducing the risk of ACL injuries. Some excellent leg muscle strengthening exercises include hamstring curls, walking lunges and toe heel raises.

Neuromuscular training

Neuromuscular training is an excellent preventive method. It teaches the body how to obtain maximum knee stability and how the knee should move when jumping, pivoting and landing. Most injuries occur due to awkward landing on the knees, causing the ligament to twist and rupture. Scientific studies have also concluded that neuromuscular training significantly reduces the risk of ACL tears.

Knee bracing

If you have a weak knee or feel a little instability in the knee, you should use a knee brace. A good knee brace is able to make you feel like you are not wearing one, hold the knee ligaments firmly together and offer better support to the knee as a whole. There are some knee braces that are even allowed to be worn for games. Knee braces will offer better stability and provide you with more confidence.

Sufficient rest

Sufficient rest periods in-between training and games will allow the body ample of time for reconditioning and repair of the tissues. If you overstress your body, you are depriving it of repair time and sooner or later, the tissues and ligaments will break down. To speed up recovery process, some athletes consume foods that are high in protein such as chicken breast and protein shakes.

Reducing the risk of ACL injuries is as easy as 1-2-3. You only need to make a little bit of effort to buff up the muscles and don protective and supportive gears when you are playing your favourite sport.