Scheduling an appointment with your doctor and creating a plan of action is likely to help you return to a more normal lifestyle and may add many comfortable years to your knees and other bodily joints.
Similar Symptoms for Three Types of Arthritis
There are three types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, the most common type associated with the elderly population which wears away joint cartilage over time; rheumatoid, an inflammatory disease that can affect people from all age groups; and post traumatic arthritis, which may occur after the injury of one or both knees. The early symptoms of each are similar and should serve as a sign that a visit to your doctor is in order. Any or all of the following indicate you may be experiencing the beginning stages of arthritis in your knee(s):
Knee pain which has gradually been increasing
Although in some cases arthritic knee pain can come on quickly, more often the pain starts out subtly and increases over time. You may start to notice that your knees ache a bit after climbing a flight of stairs or standing after being in a sitting position for a while. Knees which are uncomfortable after sleeping are likely experiencing osteoarthritic conditions.
Knees that buckle and/or lock
Nearly everyone has had the experience of one or both knees buckling or locking up at one time or another, a situation that brings immediate awareness to the importance of these particular joints. However, if the experience starts to become more frequent, chances are you may have a form of arthritis. Symptoms may come and go unpredictably but it’s best to pay attention and not ignore the early signs.
Tenderness or swelling in the knee(s)
Knees that feel warm to the touch and have a red appearance are experiencing a degree of inflammation, a symptom common to all forms of arthritis. At first, symptoms may be relieved by an over-the-counter medication such as one of the NSAIDs, but the effectiveness of these medications may wane as the condition becomes more chronic. Inflammation may be the result of bone spurs, known as osteophytes, or may be caused from extra bodily fluids which have built up in the knees.
Knees that pop and/or crack
When the cartilage that naturally cushions the joints within your knees has been partially worn away, you may begin to hear cracking and/or popping noises occurring in one or both knees when you flex the joint. Many arthritis sufferers describe the feeling of a grinding sensation, known as crepitus, which may be the result of bone rubbing directly on bone or from contact with bone spurs which may have also formed as a result of arthritis.
Reduced range of motion
If you notice that your knees no longer move as freely as in the past, this may also be an arthritis symptom. As the disease progresses, the amount of available joint space for the bones to move decreases, making simple tasks like going for a walk increasingly difficult. People who have been suffering from knee arthritis for some time may require a cane or walker to complete their daily activities.
Don’t Wait – Early Treatment Makes a Huge Difference
Planning a visit to your doctor at the earliest sign of arthritis is one of your best defenses against the rapid degradation of your knee joints. Many treatment options are available, ranging from medications to injections to dietary and lifestyle changes. Surgery is generally considered only as a last resort. Your personal preferences and needs as a patient will be taken into account before deciding on the best course of action, so clear communication with your doctor is likely to improve the long term outcome for your joints. Call your doctor today to help keep your knees more comfortable in the future.