When Knee Pain May Mean Arthritis
From cartilage breakdown to joint infections or overuse, these conditions may be to blame for painful knees. Learn about the diseases that can affect the knees.
Types of arthritis that can affect the knee
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. Without the protective layer, the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement in the joint. The knee is one of the joints most commonly affected by OA.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attacks the membrane that lines the joints. The result can be joint damage, pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. RA commonly affects joints on both sides of the body. If one knee is affected, the other knee is likely affected as well.
Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe arthritis conditions that affect children age 16 years old or younger. There are several types of juvenile arthritis that cause knee pain and swelling.
Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid (UA) can build up in the bloodstream. The acid turns into needle-like crystals in tissues of the body, including the joints. The first symptom of gout is intense pain and swelling in the big toe. Future attacks may affect the knee.
Reactive arthritis is a chronic form of arthritis that often occurs following an infection of the genital, urinary or gastrointestinal system. The large joints are most often infected especially the shoulders, hips and knees.
This infectious disease causes a rash, joint swelling and flu-like symptoms. Getting a bite by tick infected with a bacterium called B. burgdorferi is the cause. The knee is often the first joint affected by Lyme disease.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes a faulty immune system to release blood proteins that attack healthy tissues. Body-wide inflammation can the knee and other joints. The skin and some internal organs can be affected by inflammation too.
Also called septic arthritis, this disease is caused by an infection within the joint. Infectious arthritis is often cause by bacteria that spread through the bloodstream to the joint. Sometimes it is caused by viruses or fungi. Knees are most commonly affected.
Common knee injuries include a tear, dislocation or loose pieces of cartilage floating in the joint fluid.
To get an accurate arthritis diagnosis, talk to your primary care doctor about your symptoms. You may be referred to a rheumatologist or orthopaedist. They are doctors with specialized training in arthritis and related conditions.
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