Arthritis is the term for any joint inflammation. One of the more commonly affected joints, especially in the elderly, is the knee. This is partly due to age-related changes in the joint cartilage, wear and tear within the knee joint which has to bear most of the body weight, and certain inflammatory joint diseases that are more common in the senior years. Knee arthritis is a major cause of physical impairment in the elderly and significantly compromises quality of life.
There are several different types of arthritis that can affect the joints of the body. Some of these different types of arthritis is more commonly seen in certain joints – the larger joints like the hip and knee or smaller joints like the fingers and toes. Knee arthritis in the elderly is mainly due to two conditions :
Another type of knee arthritis is known as post-traumatic arthritis. It may develop with an injury or even years after a bone fracture which is more common in the elderly, especially with falls.
The most common symptoms of knee arthritis is pain. Joint pain is medically known as arthralgia. Arthritis pain can vary in nature, intensity and may be constant, only occur with movement or be periodic. Other symptoms that may also be present includes :
There are different ways to treat arthritis depending on the condition. Some types of arthritis can be managed conservatively while medication or even surgery may be necessary in some cases. The various therapeutic measures includes :
Despite even the most innovative and effective treatment options, knee arthritis has a permanent impact on movement and overall quality of life in the elderly. This is partly due to the diminished healing capability of the body with age and is also complicated with other chronic diseases that may be more frequently seen in the senior years. Knee arthritis is not an inevitable part of growing old. However, it is a common condition which can sometimes be prevented and if managed in the early stages may not significantly affect the quality of life of a senior.