Osteoarthritis of the knee is also referred to as the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, a progressive disease of the joints, which grows with time and if left undetected, can cause chronic pain in the knees and make their everyday functioning almost next to impossible. To know how the disease goes from mild to chronic and reaches the stage of considerable damage, you need to thoroughly understand the stages of knee osteoarthritis.
Stages of knee osteoarthritis:
Osteoarthritis knee is a usually a result of damage caused to the knee in 4 stages. To be able to detect the problem and start osteoarthritis knee treatment in time, watch out for the below given points.
Stage 0 of osteoarthritis knee:
When you have absolutely healthy knees, which exhibit no sign of damage, pain, discomfort or fatigue; you are most likely to be at stage 0 of knee osteoarthritis.
Treatment: At this stage, no osteoarthritis knee treatment is required. But you can take necessary precautions to keep your knees healthy and fit.
Stage 1 of osteoarthritis knee:
At this stage, you are not likely to experience any pain but it is the stage at which a minor bone spur growth must have occurred. Since the wear and tear at this stage is of minor kind, although the cartilage may have gotten damaged, experiencing any discomfort or sign is highly unlikely.
Treatment: Without any outward symptom or pain, a treatment at this stage is avoidable.
Stage 2 of osteoarthritis knee:
Among the first few stages of knee osteoarthritis where the affected person actually starts to see a sign of discomfort or pain in the knee, it is still considered to be a mild stage of the condition. Signs like mild stiffness and discomfort while sitting in one position for long are very common at this stage. It is so because at this stage the joint space begins to narrow and the cartilage begins to mildly breakdown.
Treatment: Unlike stage 1 of osteoarthritis knee, diagnostic imaging provides a better indication of the amount of cartilage wear and tear as well as bone spur and so X-ray is recommended as part of the diagnosis to begin the right kind of osteoarthritis knee treatment.
Low impact aerobics and physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles around the joint and increase stability are often recommended as part of the osteoarthritis knee treatment. Apart from this, losing weight protecting your joints from exertion by excessive kneeling, running, squatting and jumping is also suggested to avoid putting pressure on the joints.
Stage 3 of osteoarthritis knee:
A moderate stage of knee osteoarthritis, the affected person starts to face difficulty in performing day-to-day tasks and especially those that require them to walk or stand for longer period of time and climb or kneel. Exercise often aggravates the pain further and even the mildest of exertion leads to swelling, joint stiffness, popping sensations and instability in the knees. All this is result of narrowing of space between the bones. As the problem progresses, the bone becomes rougher, thicker and spur growth becomes more of an issue.
Treatment: As stage 3 is among the more painful stages of knee osteoarthritis, doctors often suggest use of pain killers and injections for instant relief. Cortisone injections are most commonly used injections and its affect stays for about two months. However, long term use of these injections is not recommended as they can have adverse effects on other parts of the body. Research shows long term use of steroids can actually worsen joint pain and so one must get in touch with their doctor to know the cause of the pain and determine the best possible treatment plan.
Stage 4 of osteoarthritis knee:
It is among the most severe stages of knee osteoarthritis. Because of the fully progressed state of cartilage breakdown and bone-on-bone friction, you typically experience more intense (even excruciating) pain and discomfort when moving. Patients at this stage experience chronic kind of pain even while moving the leg. Walking, bending, climbing causes severe inflammation and makes it impossible to perform even most mundane day-to-day activities. Battling with pain becomes a norm as a result of lack of synovial fluid and cartilage in the cushion the joint.
Treatment: At the first sign of pain and discomfort, do not hesitate to consult a doctor or our well-trained kneeologists. Their customised and well-planned approach will help you receive the best treatment possible that would not only result in reduced pain but also in improved mobility and enhanced muscle and joint strength. Each kneeologist at HCAH uses advanced methods to enable you to quickly resume fully-functional and pain-free life. That too without the need of any surgery or knee replacement.
Reviewed by Dr. Gagan Kapoor