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.

Causes

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.

Symptoms

Pain

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

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.

Preventing Osteoarthritis through Exercise

Osteoarthritis is a significant degenerative disease that affects the joints. It appears most commonly in the lower extremities which includes the knee and ankles. The reason why the lower extremities are favoured is due to the immense amount of stresses experienced each day. Despite the high prevalence of Osteoarthritis, it can be prevented through simple exercises. We will discuss in this article about how best to prevent Osteoarthritis through daily exercises.

Studies have concluded that exercises can help to prevent Osteoarthritis. Light exercises such as walking are able to effectively reduce the development of osteoarthritis while heavy ones can lead to an increase. As we age, our cartilage becomes less flexible and more brittle. As a result, it cannot work as effectively as before. Exercising frequently helps to prevent muscle atrophy and this is beneficial for those suffering from degenerative joint problems. Exercising frequently helps to build muscle mass, increase strength and flexibility. Patients who complain of pain while exercising should consider aquatic-based exercises which are pain free due to the buoyancy of water.


Flexibility exercises

The aim of flexibility exercises is to increase mobility in the joints and reduce stiffness. Simple flexibility exercises can help to stretch the surrounding muscles and increase blood flow to the region.


Leg stretch

Sit down on the floor and bend your knees while holding the soles together. Hold your ankles firmly and slowly push your knee down using your elbow. You will be able to feel a stretch on the inner part of your leg. Remember to do this slowly or you risk pulling your quad muscles.

Lower back stretch

Lie flat on a piece of yoga mat whilst extending your legs. Get into a position similar to when you are doing crunches but instead of holding your ankles, hold your knee this time round. Pull your knees towards you at a slow but consistent pace while maintaining proper breathing techniques.

Low impact aerobic exercises

Low impact aerobic exercises such as swimming and cycling are gentle on your joints yet improving your cardiovascular function effectively. While people commonly associate osteoarthritis with aging, it does not seem to be the case now. There is an increasing trend in younger patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Instead of participating in high impact sports such as soccer and running, consider making the switch to low impacts ones.
There is no effective cure for osteoarthritis yet and the only way is to manage it with medication and exercises in an attempt to live with the pain and go on with your life.

Age-related Orthopaedic Conditions

Age related orthopaedic conditions frequently decreases the ability to remain mobile, cause discomfort and pain and reduces the ability to lead a quality lifestyle, requiring alterations to daily activities. Ageing is a process which is spontaneous and cannot be avoided. However, age-related problems can be avoided if proper nutrition and care is provided.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder indicated by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissues. Osteoporosis can be grouped into systemic and local. Local osteoporosis is due to fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, tumours, muscular paralysis or tendon ruptures. Our bone is frequently undergoing remodelling, forming new bone cells in the process. However, osteoporosis causes an imbalance between this bone forming, causing low bone mineral density and poor quality of bones which are easily fractured.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is another orthopaedic problem associated with ageing. Degeneration of ligaments and joints can cause arthritis. Patients suffering from arthritis suffer immense pain. They can also have deformed joints and even loss of motion. Osteoarthritis can happen in any synovial joints, but it occurs most often in frequently used parts of the body such as the hands, feet, knee and hips.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in elderly patients. This is due to the irritation of the median entrapment nerve compressing on the carpal tunnel. Rheumatoid arthritis can trigger carpal tunnel syndrome as well due to the inflammation of the flexor tendons, causing compressive stresses on the carpal tunnel.

Cervical spondylosis

Narrowing of the intervertebral foramina disc can cause irritation at the cervical nerve roots. This is often between the C4/5 vertebrae and can cause stiffness and sensory-motor impairment. Patients can also frequently experience a triad of tenderness over the neck area.

Genu valgum

Genu valgum or knock knee is often due to osteoarthritis in the knee. Osteoarthritis will cause deformation to occur on the knee, causing them to touch each other while straightened, and increasing asymmetrical wear on the cartilages at the medial and lateral joints. Genu valgum will lead to an increase in pain during activities and stiffness.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a medical condition that affects the feet and it causes extreme pain that is amplified after periods of inactivity. The pain is likened to as being stabbed repeatedly in the feet. The onset of pain is largely due to long periods of immobility of the feet such as a long day of using the computer. As the activities around the leg increases, the pain will decrease.

Degenerative orthopaedic conditions are common in the elderly. However, most of the conditions can be improved through physiotherapy or by leading an active lifestyle, working out the limbs and joints more often. When things get serious, pain relief medication may need to be consumed to maintain the level of pain in a tolerable range.

4 Common Orthopaedic Injuries in Elderly people

According to studies, orthopaedic injuries are the leading cause of injuries in elderly people. Common injuries include fractures to the hip, pelvic, spine, shoulder and forearm, head injuries and soft tissue injuries. In the elderly especially, there has been an observed pattern to orthopaedic injuries. Firstly, it is the fear of injuries followed by the actual injury and subsequent medical attention and the eventual loss of mobility and the need for specialised care. Let’s discuss about some of the common orthopaedic injuries in the elderly so that we can all try to prevent it from happening to our loved ones at home.

As we live in an ageing society, the risk of injuries is at a higher scale compared to previously. In this day and time, 30% of those hospitalised are the elderly. Ageing causes the weakening of the musculoskeletal system and the inability to maintain an independent function.

Fractures

Fractures happen more commonly in the elderly for many reasons. Firstly, there is a reduction in bone mineral which leads to eventual fractures of the spine and wrist. This is significantly in post-menopause females. Next, the vision of the elderly is not that great compared to the young and healthy ones. With an impaired vision, it is inevitable that unexpected events will occur. This coupled with weak bone structures are the best combination for fractures.

Dislocations

The shoulder joint is the most easily dislocated mainly due to the extreme flexibility property. This is also the increased risk of dislocation due to the breaking of a fall using a shoulder. Severe pain is often experienced immediately and a depression will usually be formed in the lateral shoulder. Shoulder dislocations will require a period of immobilisation for at least a period of 6 weeks.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterised by low bone mass and decreased bone density. It occurs due to the inability for new bone formation to catch up with existing bone loss and an eventual weakening of the bone. This is especially common in the elderly due to the inefficiency of bone forming due to ageing as our bone mass peaks at 30 years of age and starts to go into decline after that.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of degenerative disease and occurs more commonly in the elderly. Osteoarthritis affects the synovial joints as well as the spine, finger, ankle and knee joints. Osteoarthritis will have a negative impact on the daily activities of the patient and simple chores such as tying shoelaces or button a shirt may seem to be a tedious task to accomplish.

Orthopaedic injuries are the main culprit of injuries in elderly patients due to a combination of factors such as impaired vision which leads to falls and subsequent fractures and dislocations. Although degenerative diseases are mostly unavoidable, preventive steps can be taken when you are still young such as the intake of sufficient calcium before bone mass peaks to prevent complications when you are old. Stay happy and healthy folks!

Top 5 Most Common Types of Arthritis

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “arthritis“? Some of the common things include old age and painful joints. This is actually quite accurate! Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and this is more common in people of certain age, especially those above 50 years old. There is currently no cure for arthritis. Arthritis occurs in many different forms and there are more than 100 types of them. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the more common ones.

Rheumatic Arthritis

Rheumatic arthritis is a disease of the immune system. The function of the immune system is to protect our body and defend against any foreign intruders in the form of viruses and bacteria. However, rheumatic arthritis causes the immune system to go haywire. Instead of protecting us, the immune system attacks us instead and these slow and steady attacks causes’ great damages to the structures of our body including the joints, muscles and organs.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint diseases which results from overuse of the various joints. Osteoarthritis does not happen at an older age. Instead, it can happen to people as young as 20 years old, especially if they use their joints much more than others. Sports injuries can also cause osteoarthritis. A patient suffering from osteoarthritis has his joint cartilage broken down. The main function of the cartilage is to absorb weight and shock and to cushion the joints. Without it, injuries and accelerated wear and tear can happen to people.

Lupus

Lupus is another disease of the immune system. Acting on the same principle as Rheumatic arthritis, the immune system attacks the healthy components of the body, especially the joints. Not only does Lupus cause inflammation of the joint, it can also cause problems such as swelling and high blood pressure.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness of the joints but unlike other forms of arthritis, it does not cause any inflammation to the joint. As a result, any damages to the joints are not caused by fibromyalgia. The common places affected are the ligaments, tendons and tissues.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

As its name suggest, Juvenile idiopathic arthritis occurs in juveniles. It is a chronic disorder that causes serious disability to children. The most commonly affected places are the joints and it causes immense pain, swelling and tenderness of the joints.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis out there and they are unique in their own ways. Before seeking medical attention, you should try to determine the type of arthritis you are suffering from. Arthritis causes pain, swelling and discomfort at areas such as the joints and they can cause simple activities such as walking a daunting task.

Complications of Cervical Radiculopathy for Middle-aged Men

Cervical radiculopathy is a medical condition that occurs when a nerve in the spine is irritated due to nerve pinching and it leaves the spine. Nerves located in the spinal cords will leave the spine in all directions and they will travel through the body. Although the nerves are commonly affected only at the spinal region, the impact can be felt from other parts of the body as well. Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by different factors such as ageing as well as injuries. We will be concentrating on cervical radiculopathy for middle aged men in this article.

As we age, our spinal disks will deteriorate and become closer to each other. The body’s natural response is to increase bone forming at the site in order to better support it. However, because of the body’s natural response, it causes the spine to be even stiffer as a result due to the increase amount of bone. These additional bone spurs can also contribute to pinching of the nerves and increase the pressure on the nerves. Osteoarthritis also contributes a significant bit to cervical radiculopathy. Osteoarthritis also causes the body to build more bone spurs at the site in order to better support the back. As a result, these bone spurs will create even more pressure. Imagine a patient suffering from osteoarthritis and who is of a particular age. The amount of pressure acting on the spine will be tremendous! Cervical radiculopathy can also cause certain complications in the body.

Upper body pain

Due to the immense pressure and pinching of nerves in the spine, it will cause pain in the upper body. Nerves are responsible for passing information to the whole body. Pinching of the nerves will cause the nerves to signal to the brain that something is wrong with the upper body and that will result in a natural response in the form of pain from the brain.

Loss of sense of feel

Patients suffering from cervical radiculopathy also suffer from loss of feel in certain parts of their body, particularly in the upper region. This is due to the pinching of the nerves which causes certain bodily function and information to be passed incorrectly and inaccurately. As a rule of thumb, if numbness is felt anywhere in certain parts of the body for prolonged periods of time, it is most likely a nerve injury and medical attention should be sough immediately.

Immediate medical attention should be sought for cervical radiculopathy. If left untreated, it can cause even more serious complications and it will eventually affect the entire body.