Arthritis is a common ailment that affects us as we age. After about age 40, our bodies do not produce new cells as quickly as it did when younger. This causes the slow degeneration of the cartilage in our joints among other things. Our joints are known as ball-and-socket joints in which the head or base of a bone (ball) fits into the socket and are held together by connective tissue. Covering the ball is a layer of cartilage which provides a smooth covering and facilitates fluid movement of the joint. When this cartilage starts to wear down with the aging process, serious pain and arthritis can result. The knee is the most commonly affected joint, accounting for about 15% of all arthritis cases.
Bone on bone arthritis in the knee can be extremely painful and should not be ignored. Symptoms include:
- Inflammation and lack of mobility in the knee
- Increased stiffness after extended periods of rest
- Less range of motion and mobility
- Pain and/or a grating or crunching feeling/sound
As the cartilage breaks down, the body’s response may be to produce more bone, resulting in painful bony protrusions known as bone spurs. If you recognize any of these symptoms, consult your doctor right away. He/she will most likely be able to diagnose you by feeling the joint and listening to your symptoms. In some cases, image testing of the joint may be necessary.
There are many factors which can increase your risk of developing painful bone on bone arthritis. The most common factor is age due to the wearing down of cartilage over the years. Other risk factors include:
- Family history
- Continuous stress on the joint through strenuous activity/sports
- Being overweight
- Previous injury
- Abnormal formation of joints
Luckily, there are many options available for treating bone on bone arthritis depending on the severity of your case. Regardless of severity, weight loss can be a huge help in relieving stress on the joint and improving joint mobility. Exercise can also improve range of motion and joint health. It must be combined with adequate rest, especially if you feel pain or discomfort in the affected joint. Other treatments include:
- Pain medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can help reduce inflammation and ease the pain in the joints. They should be used as advised by your doctor.
- Physical therapy – While this will not restore the lost cartilage, it can help with your flexibility and range of motion in the joint.
- Surgery – In extreme cases of bone on bone arthritis of the knee, surgery may be recommended by your doctor. Many advancements have been made in this field and there are minimally invasive procedures that your doctor can prescribe if necessary.