Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Osteoarthritis health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Osteoarthritis of the knee

The knee is the part of the body most commonly affected by osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis of the knee can cause pain, discomfort and loss of joint movement due to the wear and tear over the years.

With osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee gets thinner so that it can no longer effectively stop the bones rubbing together, or act as a shock absorber.

Who gets osteoarthritis of the knee?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says around 8.5 million people in the UK are affected by joint pain from osteoarthritis. In over 45 year olds, knees are the joints most often affected by osteoarthritis and women aged 75 and over are the group with the highest prevalence of knee pain.

What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?

Osteoarthritis of the knee may happen as a result of injury or infection but often there is no obvious precipitating cause. Some of the following risk factors may play a part in the development of osteoarthritis of the knee:

  • Inherited genes. This includes the possibility of genetic mutations that might make a person more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Age. The ability of cartilage to heal decreases as a person gets older.
  • Gender. Women who are 50 years old and over are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Repetitive stress injuries. These are usually a result of the type of job a person has. Certain occupations that include a lot of walking, kneeling, squatting or lifting heavy weights have higher incidences of osteoarthritis of the knee because of the constant pressure on the joint.
  • Weight. Body weight increases pressure on all the joints including the knees.
  • Athletics. Athletes involved in football, tennis or long-distance running are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Other medical conditions. This includes gout and certain metabolic disorders.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee may include:

  • Pain, especially first thing in the mornings or after either over-use or prolonged inactivity
  • Swelling
  • Feeling of warmth in the joint
  • Stiffness in the knee, especially whenafter sitting for a while
  • Decrease in movement of the knee, making it difficult to get in and out of chairs or cars, use the stairs or walk, for example
  • Crepitus, or a creaking, crackly sound that is heard when the knee moves
Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
man holding sore neck
Could you have a hormone imbalance?
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman holding mouth
Common mouth problems
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver