The cartilage of the knee
The cartilage you’re born with is the only cartilage you get. Once it’s damaged or worn out, it doesn’t regenerate. And, when it comes to the knee, there are three bones – the femur, tibia, and patella – that all have specialised cartilage to keep you moving freely and without pain.
“The knee is a very unique joint as it has three areas of cartilage that all have their own job to do. They are also individually susceptible to damage and pain,” says Dr. Rhys Clark.
What does it feel like?
Osteoarthritis in the knee (or, knee arthritis) happens when the joint cartilage is worn down. More than 50% of people over the age of 65 will show arthritis on an X-ray and about 1 in 7 of these patients will experience pain or other symptoms.
Because there are three different cartilage areas on the knee, symptoms can vary, depending on where the arthritis is. Finding it hard to walk long distances? This usually indicates osteoarthritis on the end of your bones. Painful to climb stairs or stand up from sitting? This can be indicative of arthritis under your knee cap.
“Pain is just one symptom of knee arthritis. Some patients also experience swelling, stiffness, muscle weakness, a change in their gait, cracking or grinding.”
A knee without pain
Three to four times your body weight is transferred through your knee joint with every step. So, it’s no wonder that your knee cartilage can get worn out. Beyond physical therapies and medication, surgery becomes an option for people who have severe arthritis or still experience severe pain.
The most common surgery for knee osteoarthritis is a knee replacement surgery or partial knee replacement surgery. This surgery involves removing the worn out ends of the bones and replacing them with metal and a high-density plastic layer. These materials are placed to mimic your old joint and cartilage.
“Joint replacement surgeries are very effective at alleviating a patient’s pain. I’ve seen many people who have become immobilised due to their level of pain but, once they recover from surgery, they’re able to feel the joy of movement again.”
Other surgical options can include knee realignment surgery, to treat knee arthritis.