What is Arthritis of the Knee?
Arthritis of the knee is a disease which wears away the cartilage between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone) causing the two bones to scrape against each other, raw bone on raw bone. When this happens, the joint becomes pitted, eroded and uneven. The result is pain, stiffness and instability. In some cases, motion of the leg may be greatly restricted.
Osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, is degenerative and, although it most often occurs in patients over the age of 50, it can occur at any age, especially if the joint is in some way damaged.
It is usually confined to the large weight-bearing joints of the lower extremities, including the hips and knees, but may affect the spine and upper extremity joints, too. Patients with osteoarthritis often develop large bone spurs, or osteophytes, around the joint, further limiting motion.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which is a "wear and tear" phenomenon, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that results in joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The disease process leads to severe, and at times rapid, deterioration of multiple joints, resulting in severe pain and loss of function.