Knee arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation of the knee joint. There are several forms of knee arthritis but the most common one is osteoarthritis, followed by rheumatoid arthritis.
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Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis and is often referred to as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. It is caused by the cartilage in the knee gradually wearing away. It mostly affects those over 50, however, it can also affect younger people including children.
Osteoarthritis can affect both the medial compartment (the inner part of the knee) and the lateral compartment (outer side of the knee). In some instances, it affects both areas at the same time.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the knee is an autoimmune disease which means the immune system attacks its own tissue, causing damage to the cartilage, ligaments and causing softening of the bone.
Our renowned medical team provides a range of treatments, from the traditional to the innovative:
This is an effective and well-researched procedure that’s a potential alternative to surgery. It takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to reduce pain and improve joint function. It uses a specially concentrated dosage of platelets prepared from your own blood to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone. Patients usually see their symptoms improve in one to two weeks of having the injections. Read more clinical evidence supporting PRP here.
A pioneering new treatment using your body’s own stem cells from a combination of Lipogems® and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy to treat pain and inflammation. It harnesses natural repair cells removed from your body fat to target problems affecting discs, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles.
The procedure takes around an hour and early results suggest an improvement for 75% of suitable patients. The minimally invasive procedure is a possible alternative to having an operation or can be used after surgery to help healing.
Symptoms you may experience in the early stages of knee arthritis include:
Pain: particularly on bending and straightening of the knee or when bearing weight
Swelling: this is caused by a build-up of fluid in the joint or by a build-up of bony growths called osteophytes
Stiffness: when moving the joint, especially first thing in the morning or after a prolonged period of sitting
Heat: a warm feeling can build up around the knee, often experienced at the end of the day
Cracking noises: when bending the knee is called crepitus
Tenderness: particularly when pressing down on the knee
As arthritis develops you may see changes in the shape of the knee. Over time as muscles which surround the knee weaken and thin out, the knee can appear sunken. Your knees may also start to point inwards or outwards.
Unfortunately, the most common cause of knee arthritis is age and women are more prone to get it than men. Yet, it can also be caused by:
Genes: some genetic traits can cause knee arthritis. For example, osteoarthritis in the knee has been found in people in their 20’s who have a genetic defect which affects the production of collagen, the protein which makes cartilage.
Weight: being overweight puts extra pressure on the knees and as time goes on this can cause the cartilage, which cushions the joint, to breakdown faster.
Overuse or injury: repetitive movements or injuries (fractures, surgery, ligament tears) can be a cause of knee osteoarthritis. Also, athletes who repeatedly damage their ligaments, joints and tendons are prone to knee osteoarthritis.
Knee arthritis affects people in different ways and one person’s symptoms may be different to another’s.
The diagnosis of knee arthritis tends to begin with a physical examination during which the medical practitioner will check for swelling, tenderness, redness and flexibility.
Osteoarthritis of the knee can also be detected using an X-ray. While cartilage doesn’t show up on an X-ray, cartilage loss can be detected by the narrowing of the space between the joint bones. Bony spurs which surround the joint also show up with an X-ray. In some cases, there can be little or no correlation to how the cartilage damage looks on an X-ray and the level of pain and discomfort a person is experiencing.
Magnetic reasoning imagery (MRI) may be recommended in difficult cases. An MRI can be used to display a detailed image of the cartilage, soft tissues and bone.
Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis of the knee isn’t possible using an X-ray or MRI. Instead, a blood test or an examination of the fluid which has built in the joint needs to be carried out to determine the cause of the pain.
Treatment for knee arthritis aims to relieve symptoms and improve the function of the joint.
Initial treatment may include medications such as analgesics which help reduce the pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDS – which reduce the pain and inflammation and steroid injections which reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief.
Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, minimising activities (such as climbing stairs or bending) that aggravate the condition and swapping to low impact exercises (like swimming and cycling) can help slow down the progression of knee arthritis.
Physiotherapy can help with knee arthritis and assistive devices like canes, wearing shock-absorbing shoes inserts or wearing a knee brace may be used.
Our expert team specialises in treating knee arthritis using advanced non-surgical techniques including stem cell therapy, AMPP® Activated Mesenchymal Pericyte Plasma (using Lipogems® technology) and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy.
Surgery including partial or total joint replacement and joint distraction may be recommended if other treatment options don’t yield results.
Partial joint replacement involves the surgeon replacing the damaged area. This allows you to keep the majority of your bone, tissue and ligaments in the hope that full mobility can be resumed. There is a shorter recovery time for partial joint replacement than total joint replacement.
Joint distraction is a surgical treatment for arthritis which involves slightly pulling apart the joint surfaces. These are then held in place with an external fixation frame. The frame is worn for a pre-defined period during which a thin layer of new cartilage forms.
Joint replacement should only be considered after less invasive non-surgical treatments have been explored. While joint replacement is a routine surgical procedure there are still risks attached to the surgery.
Post-surgery there is an extensive rehabilitation period involved which involves regular physical exercises. And, at some point in the future, the joint may need replacing again.
Our experienced consultants will undertake a thorough examination exploring non-surgical and surgical treatments. They’ll also discuss your suitability for our innovative biological therapies.
Your consultation will be with one of our knee specialists, Professor Wilson, Mr. Sam Heaton, Mr. Jamie Arbuthnot, Mr. Arj Imbuldeniya, Mr. Rohit Jain, Mr. Ed Britton or Mr. Amit Kumar and will last approximately 30 minutes. You may be asked to attend for an MRI scan.
As well as undertaking an examination, our specialists will take details of your medical history and discuss your symptoms. They will also detail all your treatment options and cover their potential benefits and risks.
Our expert team comprises of highly experienced surgeons, sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists who are committed to delivering a high level of care and the correct treatment option so you can quickly get back to moving around.
Autologous translates as ‘from the same person.’ In brief, it involves using your own cells to encourage healing. The major benefits are that there is no chance of rejection, infection or contamination as you are using cells from your own body rather than a donor.
We offer a range therapies based on this principle which can be considered if traditional treatments including surgery aren’t relieving your pain.
Biological treatments are pioneering procedures and we’re continuously monitoring and recording its effectiveness. Patients undertaking these treatments are asked to complete pre-operative and post-operative questionnaires.
The information obtained from these questionnaires allows us to monitor your progress and it also contributes to our evidence-based database and other global studies on biological treatments. All information gathered is anonymised.