There are over 100 types of arthritis, however, when it comes to the knee, the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition in which the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. It usually appears in aging adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and inflammatory condition that can occur at any age. It affects the whole body and can involve other joints and additional symptoms. 

These two forms of arthritis are also a common result of a knee injury. Post-traumatic arthritis can result from a torn meniscus, ligament injury, or knee fracture. Symptoms can appear years after the initial injury. 

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause similar symptoms, but there are some key differences mentioned below. Understanding the symptoms of arthritis and what to look for may lead to quicker treatment and return to daily activities with less pain.

  1. A gradual increase in pain. Arthritis pain usually starts slow, although it can appear suddenly in some cases. At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after you’ve been inactive for a while. You may feel pain when sitting or when climbing stairs. For people with rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms often start in smaller joints. They are more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The painful joints may be warm and red. With osteoarthritis, pain can be extreme and then stable for a long time. Symptoms tend to vary by day and certain factors such as weather, stress, and activity can cause pain to worsen.
  2. Swelling or tenderness. Arthritis of the knee can sometimes cause inflammation which then causes extra fluid to collect around the affected joint.
  3. Buckling and locking. Over time, damage to the joint can cause the knee structure to become unstable. This can cause it to give way or buckle. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause damage to the tendons, which join the muscle to the bone. This damage can affect the knee’s stability.
  4. Cracking or popping sounds. When you bend or straighten your knee, you may feel a grinding sensation or hear cracking or popping sounds. This is known as crepitus. These symptoms can occur when you’ve lost some of the cartilage that helps with a smooth range of motion. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can result in cartilage damage.
  5. Poor range of motion. The bone and cartilage changes that occur with arthritis of the knee or after a knee injury can make it hard for your knee joints to move smoothly. It can become hard to move the knee to walk, stand up, and carry out other everyday movements.

Treatment is available for different types of arthritis. The earlier you seek treatment, the more likely it is to be effective. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please contact Dr. Nelson. He will ensure you’re receiving treatment that will minimize pain and promote mobility and functionality. To schedule your appointment, give us a call at 435-774-8511.