By Fred J. McGlynn, MD
In America, one in five adults experience some type of knee pain during their lives. Most frequently, the culprit is knee osteoarthritis. With such a variety of symptoms, it’s important to pay careful attention to the pain over time to properly diagnose the cause.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Knee Osteoarthritis
One of the first steps of an arthritis diagnosis is a physical examination and depending on what your doctor finds, an x-ray of your knee. The severity of arthritis ranges from early to mild to advanced.
Your doctor may also do an MRI to rule out an injury to your meniscus, which is the cartilage that cushions and stabilizes your knee joint. Lastly, you may also be asked to come in and do some blood work so your doctor can rule out inflammatory arthritis.
Treating Osteoarthritis of the Knee
There are a number of ways your doctor can treat your knee arthritis, beginning with theses conservative solutions:
- Weight loss
- Fluid exercises–ie. swimming, biking, elliptical machines–rather than impact activities–running, jumping, stairs
- Strengthening the knee through physical therapy
- Wearing knee supports or braces
There are also less invasive treatments that include oral medications like glucosamine, and steroid injections directly to your knee to provide temporary pain relief.
Depending on the severity of the pain and what the doctor finds, surgery may also be an option. Those surgeries may include:
- Arthroscopy: A small incision is made to allow a camera inside your knee to see the extent of your arthritis.
- Partial knee replacement: This surgery includes just one compartment of the knee being replaced.
- Total knee replacement: This option is for patients who have severe deterioration of the compartments of their knee.
Osteoarthritis is an incredibly common condition that affects several joints in the body. It’s important to take your knee pain seriously and seek out help from a doctor for treatment.