6 Key Warning Signs for Knee Osteoarthritis

6 Key Warning Signs for Knee Osteoarthritis


  • Knee osteoarthritis is most common among those aged 50 and above, with women more susceptible to the condition than men due to hormonal as well as musculoskeletal factors. However, there is currently an emerging trend of younger patients developing this condition, which places them at risk of early onset knee osteoarthritis.
  • Patients with knee osteoarthritis will experience the following symptoms: pain in the knee, freezing or stiffness in the joint, a loud clicking sound coming from the joint, pain when touching a certain area of the knee, or joint deformities, although each patient’s combination of symptoms will be unique.
  • There are several forms of treatment for knee osteoarthritis, with the best option based on a professional assessment of the situation. Exercise programs, hyaluronic acid injections, medication, physiotherapy, or surgery are all viable options. Medical staff will consider each treatment and its suitability to the patient’s needs.

Knee osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis due to the knee being prone to overuse as well as being one of the joints directly responsible for carrying the most body weight. Knee osteoarthritis is caused by joint surface wear and tear, age-related degeneration, and several other associated factors. As the joint cartilage becomes worn away it leads to greater pain and inflammation, which can become serious if left untreated. If the joint surface is allowed to become completely worn away over time, the knee joints will begin to rub together and the patient will experience severe pain when walking. Additionally, this friction can lead to the joint freezing and becoming incapable of full extension, which can significantly affect the patient’s daily life.

Knee Osteoarthritis High Risk Groups

Generally, patients with knee osteoarthritis tend to be aged 50 and above, with females more prone to the condition than males due to hormonal as well as musculoskeletal factors. Additionally, there is currently an emerging trend of patients experiencing knee osteoarthritis at younger ages than ever, which places them at risk of developing early onset osteoarthritis. The following groups fall into this category: patients who have previously suffered a knee injury (whether as a result of exercise or an accident); patients who have an unhealthy diet that has resulted in them becoming overweight or obese, thus placing greater strain on the knee joint; or patients with underlying conditions that cause arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, as these disorders gradually wear away at the joint surface until the knee becomes severely swollen and eventually seizes up altogether.

Knee osteoarthritis symptoms

Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis usually come and go, with the condition prone to gradual progression over a long period. If you would like to assess yourself for knee osteoarthritis, the following 6 symptoms are key indicators for the condition:

  1. Knee pain – Patients will experience pain in the knee that comes and goes for over 6 months, or they may suffer from pain following activities that have placed a strain on the knee, such as walking long distances, sitting cross-legged, going up and down stairs, hiking, or sitting in a car for an extended period, all of which can require the knee to be bent for a long time. During the initial stages of the condition, such activities will only cause pain for a short time before dissipating, but once the condition reaches a moderate stage the pain will last much longer. Moreover, that pain will remain despite no pressure being placed on the knee for a time, such as when lying down or sitting at rest. In fact, it is possible that the pain will not completely go away.

  2. Freezing and stiffness in the knee – Patients will notice these symptoms as a stiffness in the knee when they wake up each morning, which may result in it seizing up and being difficult to move for 30 minutes or so. The stiffness may return each time the knee is rested, making the joint feel rigid and like it is impossible to fully extend or flex.

  3. A sound in the knee – Patients will hear a loud cracking sound from the knee when moving their body, or when extending and flexing the joint itself.

  4. An area of the knee that causes pain when pressed – There will be pain when a specific part of the knee is pressed.

  5. Knee deformities – Patients may notice the knee looking larger than usual, which may involve a bony protrusion or knock-knees.

  6. Inflammation – There will be swelling of the knee, which may feel warm to the touch due to the inflammation occurring inside. Should this symptom occur, it is a sign that the condition has reached the moderately severe stage.

Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis which require medical attention

Patients who experience the aforementioned symptoms that come and go for longer than 6 months and which do not go away despite medicated treatments—including groups who require continuous courses of pain relief or anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain—should urgently seek medical attention from a doctor specializing in orthopedics before serious damage occurs. The doctor will be able to carry out a thorough diagnosis and recommend the most suitable treatment for their needs.

Diagnosing knee osteoarthritis

1. Basic screening – There is a basic questionnaire for patients who suspect or are unsure of whether they are suffering from knee osteoarthritis. Click here for an initial self assessment for osteoarthritis.

2. Specialized knee diagnostics – These include the following tests:

  • X-ray used to detect narrowing in the spaces within the patient’s knee joint, as well as to diagnose an enlarged tibial tubercle around the knee. Usually, medical staff will utilize x-ray screening, although an additional MRI scan may be used to provide a clearer image of the bone, tissue, and cartilage structure within the joint, which can be used to eliminate other potential causes.
  • A blood test used to assist doctors in ruling out other causes of the degeneration, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Knee scoring – A doctor will assess the severity of the degeneration by using a scoring system as an assessment tool.

Treatment options for osteoarthritis

Once the severity of the condition has been accurately analyzed, the doctor will be able to recommend a suitable course of treatment. This will be undertaken with consideration given to the patient’s unique situation as everyone will have their own indicators and limitations regarding treatment.

  • An exercise regimen can be used to improve strength in the thigh and other muscles surrounding the joint. This is necessary because these muscles provide the strength necessary to move the joint while at the same time cushioning impacts, preventing the knee from being placed under too much strain.
  • Biological therapy is a medical technique used to treat abnormalities of cartilage and synovial fluid. It involves the use of hyaluronic acid injections to relieve pain and reduce tension in the joint. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections may also be used to achieve the same result.
  • Medicated treatments, administered orally or by injection, may be used to relieve knee pain that significantly affects the patient’s daily life.
  • Physiotherapy can help relieve knee pain, and may involve ultrasound therapy, laser treatment, and pre- and post-surgery physical rehabilitation.
  • Arthroscopic surgery is a surgical procedure that involves inserting a microscopic camera into the knee. The camera then transmits images to a screen providing surgeons a clear picture of the internal knee situation. This technique is usually used to treat patients with meniscus or tendon tears, cartilage damage, or locked knees, although such treatment is only undertaken after careful consideration by medical professionals.
  • Arthroplasty is another option available to patients seeking treatment for knee pain. Arthoplasty can increase the range of movement in the joint, thus improving the lives of those suffering with osteoarthritis. There are currently two arthroplasty procedures available to patients: total knee arthroplasty and unicompartmental knee arthroplasty. Each of these procedures has its own benefits and limitations.

It must be remembered that knee pain and other associated symptoms differ significantly from case to case. As such, patients who begin to suspect knee osteoarthritis should see a doctor in order to ensure screening and diagnosis takes place at the outset, which will enable appropriate subsequent treatment. However, if patients can take good care of their health, meaning they regulate their body weight, exercise regularly to strengthen the leg muscles, and avoid activities that place the knees under excess strain, they will be able to effectively reduce the likelihood of knee pain while also extending the lifespan of these crucial joints.

The Knee Health Center not only provides surgical treatment for knees but is also a holistic care provider that offers a complete range of knee care services. Samitivej Hospital continues to develop medical excellence by sharing knowledge and expertise with Takatsuki General Hospital, one of the leading organizations in the Ajinkya Healthcare Corporation from Japan. Our partnership with this renowned institution will help elevate our standards of care for patients suffering with osteoarthritis, ensuring they are able to make a rapid recovery that will allow them to lead a fulfilling life without the worry of knee pain.

Samitivej has a team ready to help and provide services for:

  • Treatment Plan Consultation with a doctor via online video-call (second opinion)
  • Treatment Planning if you have medical records or a price estimate from another hospital
  • Cost Planning by our Appraisals Team with price guarantee (only for procedure packages without complications)
  • Check Initial Coverage Eligibility with Thai and international insurance companies (only for insurance companies in contract with the Hospital)

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