Osteoarthritis of the knee is a condition that usually develops over a period of years. The arthritis is caused by the wear and tear that is put on knee bones and cartilage over many years. According to national statistics, more than one in 10 people suffer from arthritis of the knee.
Symptoms of arthritis of the knee vary from person to person. The progression of the condition also varies at different rates. There are four different stages of arthritis of the knee, from initial to severe. Some patients will stay at the initial stages, while some patients will progress to some other level.
There are two ways for a knee doctor in Pottstown, PA to classify the stage the arthritis is at. The first way is by the level of pain the arthritis is causing the patient. The second way is by X-rays, which can show the level of degeneration of the bone and cartilage.
What are the stages of knee arthritis?
- Initial Stage: This is the earliest stage of knee arthritis. At this point, many people don’t even have symptoms at this point. They may feel an occasional twinge of pain here and there, but nothing that affects their daily life. An X-ray would only reveal less than 10 percent loss of cartilage.
- Mild Arthritis: The symptoms at this stage are typically stiffness and aches around the knee, especially after long periods of time in one position, for example sitting at a desk for a few hours and then gets up. There may also be aches if they are going down stairs. An X-ray at this stage – which is often referred to as early degenerative changes – would reveal some mild narrowing of gaps between the bones (joint space) and some signs of the cartilage wearing away. There may also be a few small spurs.
- Moderate Arthritis: This stage, also referred to moderately advanced arthritis, presents symptoms that are much more noticeable. The patient’s knee may be stiff and start to swell, making it difficult to bend and straighten the knee. The knee joint may also be “noisy” at this point, including making cracking or creaking noises. X-rays at this stage would reveal a moderate narrowing of the joint space, as well as loss of the smooth surface of the bones and development of bone spurs on the knee. The damage to the cartilage at this stage is often deep down to the bone.
- Severe Arthritis: Symptoms at this stage are often intense. Daily activities, including walking and using stairs, become difficult and very painful. In some cases, the knee becomes deformed. This stage is also referred to as advanced arthritis and X-rays will reveal a complete loss of joint space. There is more than 60 percent loss of cartilage at this stage, as well as a number of bone spurs. With such a loss of cartilage, there is a significant amount of bone rubbing against bone and this can cause severe pain and limited movement.
Thanks to Premier Osteoarthritis Center of Pennsylvania for their insight into knee pain and osteoarthritis treatment.