Arthritis refers to the redness and swelling of the joints. It usually develops slowly over 10 to 15 years, interfering with daily life activities. Knowing the early signs of arthritis can help you take appropriate treatment and incorporate modifications in your diet and lifestyle.
The knee joint is the largest and the most complex joint in the body. Depending on the cause, the early signs and symptoms of arthritis in the knee joint may vary amongst individuals. Typically, these include:
- Pain while climbing stairs or walking
- Joint stiffness after sitting for prolonged periods with bended knees
- Difficulty in straightening the knee after getting up in the morning
- Swelling over the knees that gets worse on walking
- Bones in the knee joint rub against each other giving rise to the sound of creaking, clicking or snapping, or grinding
- Many people with arthritis experience increased joint pain during rainy weather
What causes arthritis in the knee?
All kinds of arthritis are characterized by wear and tear of the cartilage followed by a reduction in the joint space.
Three types of arthritis affect the knee mainly:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): This type of arthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease, primary OA, wear-and-tear arthritis, or age-related arthritis. It is a leading cause of disability in the United States and worldwide. Though more common in older people, it can affect young people, including children as well.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): This is an autoimmune and chronic kind of arthritis that affects multiple joints in the body. Autoimmune means the body attacks its own healthy cells. Over time, the inflammation causes degeneration of cartilage along with the softening of the bone.
- Posttraumatic arthritis: This kind of arthritis is preceded by a traumatic event that impacts the knee joint. The injury damages the knee and arthritis develops after a few to several years in the knee joint.
Factors that increase your risk for developing osteoarthritis include:
How is arthritis in the knee diagnosed?
The doctor will diagnose arthritis by performing a physical examination of your knees and taking your medical history.
Imaging tests are needed to confirm arthritis. These include:
- X-rays: X-rays of the knee joint give a detailed image of the cartilage, the bone surfaces and the joint space, and the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computed tomography (CT) scan: These tests provide a more detailed version than the X-ray in determining the health of the knee joint.
- Blood tests: Certain blood tests help to distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from osteoarthritis.
Latest Health News
- Freezing Eggs Doesn't Make Future Pregnancy a Done Deal
- Use of Frozen Embryos Tied to Higher Odds for Dangerous Complication of Pregnancy
- Genetics May Explain Rare Heart Inflammation in Some Young People
- Pfizer, Moderna Seek Approval of New COVID Boosters for Kids
- U.S. Prisoners Face Higher Odds of Dying From Cancer
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Lespasio MJ, Piuzzi NS, Husni ME, et al. Knee Osteoarthritis: A Primer. Perm J. Published online September 13, 2017. doi: 10.7812/TPP/16-183.
Kessler CS, Dhiman KS, Kumar A, et al. Effectiveness of an Ayurveda Treatment Approach in Knee Osteoarthritis - A Randomized Controlled Trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. Published online February 7, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2018.01.022
Top Early Signs of Arthritis in the Knee Related Articles
How Do I Know if My Knee Pain Is Arthritis?If you have knee pain from arthritis you might notice symptoms including stiffness and swelling, increased pain and swelling in the morning or after sitting, increased pain after activity, 'locking' or 'sticking' of the knee, and weakness or buckling in the knee.
How Do You Relieve Pain In The Back Of Your Knee?Learn what medical treatments can help relieve pain in the back of your knee and help you manage pain in the back of your knee.
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) vs. Naproxen (Aleve)Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox) are drugs used to relieve mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. Ibuprofen and naproxen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Both ibuprofen and naproxen have serious side effects that increase the risk for blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) annually affects one child in every thousand. There are six types of JRA. Treatment of juvenile arthritis depends upon the type the child has and should focus on treating the symptoms that manifest.
Osteoarthritis (OA)Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
OA of the Knee ExercisesLearn about osteoarthritis and exercises that relieve knee osteoarthritis pain, stiffness and strengthen the knee joint and surrounding muscles through this picture slideshow.
Pennsaid (diclofenac sodium)Pennsaid (diclofenac sodium) is a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat the symptoms of Acute Pain, Arthritis Pain, Actinic Keratosis, and Osteoarthritis. Serious side effects of Pennsaid include risk of serious cardiovascular (heart attack, stroke) and gastrointestinal events (bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the stomach or intestines), which can be fatal.
Psoriatic ArthritisPsoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
Psoriatic Arthritis PicturePsoriatic arthritis is a specific condition in which a person has both psoriasis and arthritis. See a picture of Psoriatic Arthritis and learn more about the health topic.
Quackery of ArthritisArthritis patients are sometimes vulnerable to quackery (the business of promoting unproven remedies). These "quick fix" treatments are promoted as cure-alls, but they really have no right to such claims. Consumers should be wary of products that have marketing claims like "will cure," "ancient remedy," "has no side effects," and "revolutionary new scientific breakthrough." Read about arthritis remedies and tests that have no scientific proof of benefits.
Reactive ArthritisReactive arthritis is a chronic, systemic rheumatic disease characterized by three conditions, including conjunctivitis, joint inflammation, and genital, urinary, or gastrointestinal system inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness of the affected joints. Non-joint areas may experience irritation and pain. Treatment for reactive arthritis depends on which area of the body is affected. Joint inflammation is treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease resulting in chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Early RA signs and symptoms include anemia, both sides of the body affected (symmetric), depression, fatigue, fever, joint deformity, joint pain, joint redness, joint stiffness, joint swelling, joint tenderness, joint warmth, limping, loss of joint function, loss of joint range of motion, and polyarthritis.
RA QuizHow is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Quiz to rest your RA IQ.
Triesence (triamcinolone acetonide)Triesence (triamcinolone acetonide) Injectable Suspension is a steroid injection used to treat inflammation of the joints or tendons to treat arthritis, bursitis, or epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Triesence is also injected into soft tissues of the body to treat certain skin disorders caused by autoimmune conditions such as lupus, psoriasis, lichen planus, as well as ophthalmic diseases. Common side effects of Triesence include nausea, bloating, appetite changes, stomach or side pain, headache, sleep problems (insomnia), acne, scaling or other skin changes, slow-healing wounds, and others.
Vivlodex (meloxicam)Vivlodex (meloxicam) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indicated for management of osteoarthritis (OA) pain. Serious side effects of Vivlodex include increased risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events (heart attack and stroke, which can be fatal) and increased risk of serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events (bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the stomach or intestines, which can be fatal).
What Are the 7 Best Exercises for Knee Pain?Knee pain is a common problem that can have a number of different causes. The seven best exercises for knee pain are the single-leg lift, leg stretch, hamstring curls, sit to stand, seated leg lift, heel step up and quad stretch with towel roll.
What Are the Different Types of Knee Surgery?Different types of knee surgery include knee replacement surgery, ACL surgery, and meniscus surgeries.
What Foods Cause Joint Pain?With arthritis, the constant pain and stiffness often lead the body to be in a state of stress or "inflammation." Foods that cause joint pain include heavily processed foods, red meat, foods high in sugar, fried foods, alcohol and foods rich in MSG, refined carbohydrates, gluten and purines.