Knee Arthritis services offered in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA and Tempe, AZ
Commonly found in the knee joint, arthritis affects many aspects of daily life. While it may not be easy to live with, patients can proactively take steps to alleviate their symptoms and overcome many of the limitations associated with the condition.
The highly skilled team at Reflex Knee Specialists is well-equipped to diagnose and treat knee arthritis and other injuries. With diagnostic testing services and non-surgical treatments available onsite, patients can receive the comprehensive care they need from a clinic that’s most convenient for them in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; or Tempe, Arizona.
About Arthritis of the Knee
The knee joint is where the three primary bones in the leg meet: the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (kneecap). Cartilage covers and cushions the ends of these bones and is lubricated by joint (synovial) fluid. This essential joint fluid not only guards against friction and allows the knee to bend and straighten smoothly, it also provides nutrients to the cartilage tissue since it is avascular (has no blood supply to deliver nutrients).
Arthritis of the knee decreases the quality of the joint fluid and causes the cartilage in the joint to deteriorate. This condition may affect one or both knee joints and is diagnosed in a series of stages:
- Stage 0: Healthy knee functionality
- Stage 1: Minor wear and tear and fraying of the cartilage
- Stage 2: Mild stages of pain and stiffness with superficial cartilage damage
- Stage 3: Moderate pain, especially while physically active, or stiffness, especially first thing in the morning; there is moderate cartilage damage characterized by deep fissures in the tissue
- Stage 4: Severe symptoms causing disability; severe cartilage damage and loss, often with focal areas of “bone on bone” loss due to no remaining cartilage
Currently, there are no cures for any type of knee arthritis. However, treatments are available to help slow its progression and alleviate the symptoms.
Types of Knee Arthritis
Cartilage wear, tear, and degeneration can occur in many areas within the knee. It may be found between the femur and tibia at the medial (inner) or lateral (outer) side of the joint or beneath the patella. If the damage is primarily beneath the kneecap, it’s known as patellofemoral arthritis. If all three bones are affected, it’s referred to as tri-compartmental arthritis. While many types of arthritis can affect the human body, the types of arthritis that most commonly impact the knee joint include:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of many autoimmune diseases, which is a condition where the immune system attacks the body instead of protecting it. RA is a type of arthritis where the immune system targets the tissue lining the joints, causing an inflammatory response. Along with the knees, it almost always affects the joints in the hands and feet.
Also known as a degenerative joint disease (DJD), osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is the most common type of arthritis, and is the most common cause of knee pain in the world. As time passes, the cartilage loses its integrity and becomes progressively thinner until the bones eventually start to rub together. The most common causes of osteoarthritis (OA) are prior injury, obesity, aging, or genetic predisposition.
Post-traumatic osteoarthritis occurs after a knee injury or accident, such as an ACL tear, meniscal injury, bone fracture, or joint dislocation. This could be from playing contact sports or an unexpected event like a car accident. Post-traumatic arthritis usually presents several years later. For example, 50% of people who experience an ACL tear or rupture will develop osteoarthritis 10 years following the injury; by 15 years, 75% will have OA, and nearly 100% will have it after 20 years. Since most ACL injuries occur in the teenage years, it is not uncommon for people to have irreversible structural joint damage due to OA present in their late 20s or early 30s.
Infectious “Septic” Arthritis
This type of arthritis is triggered by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that typically starts in another part of the body and travels to the knee or another joint. Treatments with a surgical procedure to wash out the infection and several weeks of antibiotics usually alleviate this condition.
Common Risk Factors for Arthritis
Researchers have identified several factors that may increase a patient’s risk of developing arthritis. While some health and lifestyle changes can decrease the likelihood of developing this condition, some individuals may be naturally prone to it. Common causes of knee arthritis include the following:
- Advanced age: As a degenerative disease, arthritis most commonly affects older patients.
- Malalignment or Dysfunctional Biomechanics: Patients with naturally misaligned joints or with other abnormalities impacting knee movement are at increased risk.
- Weight: Patients who are overweight or obese put added stress on their joints, which can lead to arthritis and other issues.
- Lifestyle: Playing sports and certain occupations can cause knee arthritis down the road.
- Previous injuries: Severe or repeated knee injury increases the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis.
- Genetics: Certain predispositions within a family history can elevate the chances of someone experiencing joint issues at some point in their lifetime.
- Gender: Studies indicate osteoarthritis is more common in premenopausal women than in men.
The providers at Reflex Knee Specialists understand that knee arthritis may be caused by any number of factors and present in several ways. Scheduling routine examinations and discussing concerns or changes in knee performance with a knee specialist are some of the best ways for a patient to stay on top of their joint health.
Knee Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis in the knee can make many activities challenging, such as getting out of bed in the morning or going for a walk. Depending on the severity of this condition, a patient may experience symptoms that range from mild to severe. Signs of arthritis in the knee include:
- Pain with certain activities (squatting, going up/downstairs)
- Loss of flexibility
- Knee buckling, locking, or a catching sensation during movement
- Crepitus (joint noises)
Patients should consult a healthcare professional if they’re experiencing arthritis symptoms. Since this condition can be difficult to diagnose without the trained eye of a specialist trained on how to detect cartilage damage in its earliest stages, it is recommended that they are evaluated by a knee specialist.
Joint Diagnosis at Reflex Knee Specialists
The medical team at Reflex Knee Specialists is experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of knee conditions. Our providers can identify the source of the pain, confirm the condition, and recommend a personalized treatment plan that suits the individual needs of the patient.
Our team begins by reviewing the patient’s medical records and discussing symptoms that are present. The physician will also perform a physical examination. During this exam, they’ll evaluate the knee for redness, swelling, and bruising, test its range of motion, and monitor the patient as they walk around the exam room. They will also perform an ultrasound to examine the condition inside the joint and to determine if any cartilage damage has occurred. Ultrasound is also able to assess the condition of the tendons and ligaments supporting the knee, as well as the lining of the joint (synovium).
The experts at Reflex Knee Specialists recommend that anyone who has played sports or has a history of a knee injury, such as an ACL tear or a meniscus tear, have their knee evaluated via diagnostic ultrasound. This is because ultrasound can detect cartilage damage years before it can be identified with an MRI or X-ray.
Non-Surgical Arthritis Treatments
Taking a non-surgical approach to care, the team at Reflex Knee Specialists explores treatment options that relieve symptoms and put the brakes on the degenerative process, helping people avoid or postpone the need for surgery. They rely on modern imaging equipment to ensure each treatment is administered accurately and to monitor its success. Arthritis treatments may include:
Physical therapy is highly beneficial for patients with arthritis. The licensed physical therapists at Reflex Knee Specialists have undergone specialized training in knee function. They work with each patient individually to identify and correct compensation patterns, build muscle strength, and find ways to promote long-term joint health.
Joint Fluid Therapy
Also known as a hyaluronic treatment, joint fluid therapy helps reduce inflammation and improve the quality of the joint (synovial) fluid inside the knee. Because hyaluronic acid is naturally found within the knee’s synovial fluid, this substance is especially useful in improving flexibility, mobility, and the joint environment to help protect cartilage from the progressive damage that characterizes the osteoarthritis process.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelets are like traveling pharmacies, delivering growth and healing factors to damaged areas in the body. PRP is a treatment that not only reduces pain and inflammation but also improves the quality of the joint (synovial) fluid. PRP also stimulates meniscal cells to proliferate and can help improve the condition of the meniscus.
Bracing may be recommended to off-load an area of the knee that has significant damage or pain. It may also help people during their recovery following a meniscal tear. Knee braces can also improve alignment, increase joint stability, decrease the risk of falling, and increase a person’s ability to walk and exercise.
When to See a Doctor
The first step toward better joint health is knowing when to visit a healthcare provider when something seems wrong. The Reflex Knee Specialists team recommends that you should schedule an evaluation for any of the following:
- You played sports or experienced a knee injury such as an ACL or meniscal tear.
- Your knee seems stiff or less flexible.
- Walking feels painful or difficult, especially while climbing stairs.
- You have bone spurs or bumps on your joint.
- Knee discomfort doesn’t go away with rest.
- Pain interferes with your daily life.
- You hear clicking, popping, or cracking sounds with movement.
Schedule a Consultation with a Knee Specialist Today
Most patients can improve their quality of life and get back to the activities they love without surgery. The team at Reflex Knee Specialists provides personalized care plans and education so their patients are informed about non-surgical treatment options. They have offices in Portland, Oregon, Bellevue, Washington, and Tempe, Arizona and accept Medicare and a variety of other insurance plans. Through a comprehensive knee evaluation, our specialists help patients address a variety of issues and make informed decisions. For cutting-edge knee care, call or contact us today to schedule your consultation.