Knee Joint Pain

Written by Serena Berger
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Osteoarthritis is the cause of knee pain for over 10 million Americans. While OA can affect any joints in the body, it is most common by far in weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. For that reason alone it is advisable to keep your weight in the ideal range. Years of being forced to support more weight than they are made to support will lead to joints breaking down, and pain and stiffness will result. Eventually you may not be able to walk at all--is there any better reason to keep your weight under control?

When your knees are healthy, the ends of the bones are covered in cartilage, which prevents too much friction at the joint. Joints are also supposed to be lubricated by synovial fluid, which allows smooth movement. Many times, OA affects not only the cartilage, but also the synovial fluid. The fluid gets thinner and no longer provides a good cushion or sufficient lubrication for movement.

Osteophytes Cause Knee Joint Pain

Another source of pain may be osteophytes. Occasionally, when friction has gotten to the point of wearing away the ends of the bone, your body will start to create new growths of bone at the point where it is supposed to meet a joint. These osteophytes (or spurs) are typically very painful because they are not the normal shape of the bone, and simply start causing more friction, thus further restricting movement.

As if that weren't enough, tissues around the joint can also become inflamed. Basic irritation from friction can be once source of swelling, but there are also cases where cell walls become less elastic and are not able to release unnecessary fluid. When the tissue is swollen, more surface area comes into contact with the joint, and then the joint rubs against it and cases more irritation. This is why anti-inflammatory treatments are such an integral part of OA care.


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