7 Warning Signs of Knee Arthritis

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis are two common types of knee arthritis (RA). OA is the most prevalent form. It is a condition where the cartilage in the knee joint gradually deteriorates, which typically manifests after middle age. RA is an inflammatory autoimmunity that can affect people of any age. It affects a variety of other body systems and involves multiple joints.

After a knee injury, arthritis can also develop. A meniscal tear, ligament injury, or knee fracture can lead to post-traumatic arthritis. Symptoms may manifest several years after an injury. OA and RA can cause similar symptoms, but there are significant differences between the two. Learn here how to distinguish between each type.

Manifestations of Knee Arthritis

1. The Gradual Escalation of Pain

In most cases, the onset of arthritis pain is gradual, although it can occur suddenly in rare instances.

Initially, you may experience pain in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

Your knees may ache if you:

  • Ascend stairs
  • Rise from a seated position
  • Flatten out your gait and take a seat for a while

OA can manifest as knee pain that disturbs your sleep

Symptoms of RA frequently manifest in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to affect both sides of the body symmetrically. The joint could be red and warm.

Depending on the individual, OA symptoms may progress quickly or gradually over a number of years. Symptoms can worsen and then stabilize for an extended period of time, and they can fluctuate from day to day.

Factors that may exacerbate symptoms include cold weather, stress, and excessive physical activity.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis typically appear over the course of several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a matter of days. An exacerbation can occur when disease activity increases. Changes in medication can be one of several potential triggers.


2. Swelling or Tenderness

Knee arthritis can occasionally result in inflammation.

This can be hard swelling due to the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes) or soft swelling as a result of inflammation causing the accumulation of extra fluid around the joint.

After a long period of inactivity, such as when you wake up in the morning, swelling may be more noticeable.

As an inflammatory disease, RA frequently causes joint enlargement.

People with RA may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Fever fatigue
  • A general feeling of being unwell

The eyes, heart, and lungs are additional organs that can experience inflammatory changes.

This is due to the fact that RA is a systemic disease, which affects the entire body. OA, on the other hand, has only a direct effect on the affected joint.

3. Buckling and Locking

Damage to the joint may cause the knee’s structure to become unstable over time. This can cause it to buckle or give way. Tendons, which connect muscle to bone, can be damaged by rheumatoid arthritis. This injury can compromise the knee’s stability.

As cartilage erodes and bones rub together, bone spurs may also develop. This can cause the joint to stick or lock, making it difficult to bend or straighten.

4. Sounds of Crackling or Popping

When bending or straightening your knee, you may feel or hear grinding, cracking, or popping. The medical term for this condition is crepitus. When you have lost some of the cartilage that aids in a smooth range of motion, you may experience these symptoms. Both OA and RA can cause cartilage degeneration.

Damaged cartilage results in the development of rough surfaces and bone spurs. As the joints move, these irregular areas rub against one another.

5. Limited Range of Motion

Bone and cartilage changes caused by osteoarthritis of the knee or a knee injury can make it difficult for your knee joints to move freely. It can become difficult to move the knee to walk, stand up, and perform other daily activities.

Due to pain and swelling, people with RA may find it difficult to bend and flex their knees or to walk. Injuries to a joint can also impede mobility. You may eventually require a cane or walker to maintain your balance and mobility.


6. Reduced Joint Space

Some of the knee effects of arthritis are not readily apparent. An X-ray of the knee can aid in the detection of internal damage. Cartilage typically fills the space between bones, where it cushions the joint. A knee X-ray image can detect the effects of cartilage damage.

7. Disfigurements of The Knee

During an attack and as damage progresses, the appearance of the knee can change.

During a RA flare, swelling, and redness are common. In the long term, chronic inflammation can cause irreversible damage to cartilage and tendons. This can alter the appearance and shape of the knee.

The muscles surrounding the knee can become weakened due to OA, resulting in a sunken appearance. The knees may begin to point inwards or bend outwards. Knee deformities range from barely noticeable to incapacitating and severe.

Treatment For Knee Osteoarthritis

A person’s treatment will depend on the type of arthritis they have.

Home Treatments And Medical Alternatives

Weight management physical activity options include

  • Tai chi
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Water exercise

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, are used to reduce pain and inflammation. For more severe pain, tramadol is available by prescription.

Injections of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for RA but not OA.

Applying heat and cold pads to alleviate pain and swelling topical creams such as capsaicin use of a cane or walker to assist with balance

  • Acupuncture
  • Cognitive behavioral treatment

According to experts, those who actively manage their OA are more likely to experience a favorable outcome. You can do so by learning about arthritis, becoming aware of what causes symptoms to improve or worsen, and collaborating with your physician to make decisions.


If pain and mobility loss are severe enough to impair your quality of life, a physician may recommend surgery.

Options include:

  • Partial knee surgery to remove damaged tissue and total knee
  • Replacement to provide an artificial knee joint.

A doctor can help you decide your best option.


When to Visit The Doctor

There are treatments available for various types of arthritis. The sooner you seek treatment, the greater the likelihood that it will be effective.

Consult a doctor if:

  • Pain or inflammation does not respond to any treatment
  • symptoms worsen, or you develop other symptoms, such as a fever
  • symptoms interfere with your daily activities, such as sleeping and walking


The physician may:

  • Inquire about joint symptoms and other organ involvement
  • Consider your medical background and other conditions
  • Perform a physical evaluation
  • Perform some imaging tests to determine the source of the pain and loss of mobility.
  • Perform blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other conditions that can cause joint pain.


The symptoms of knee arthritis will vary depending on the type of arthritis present. Pain, swelling, and loss of mobility are frequent symptoms of various types of arthritis.

Arthritis has no cure, but treatment can alleviate symptoms, slow the disease’s progression, and reduce the risk of complications. Medication may aid in reducing the frequency and severity of RA flares.

In the future, strategies such as weight management and exercise may help delay or eliminate the need for surgery. Your physician will assist you in making the best decisions for your knee arthritis type.

  • Are there any particular exercises that have provided relief for arthritis?

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