Do you or someone you care about suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee? You are not alone. More than 20 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis (OA), which is the number one cause of disability in the United States.
Even if you have knee osteoarthritis, there is hope to regain your active lifestyle and continue many of your favorite activities.
Knee osteoarthritis is a chronic disease. That means it will never get better and is likely to get worse over time. The knee pain and immobility are caused by wear and tear between the joints.
OA strikes three times as many women as men and most often occurs in people over 50. However, younger people who have been injured in sports or accidents can start having symptoms of knee pain in their 20s and 30s.
With OA, everyday activities may be painful or even impossible. Daily activities such as walking, driving, lifting, standing, bending, climbing stairs and exercising may cause extreme pain. It may even hurt to lay down, rest or sleep. Symptoms include aching, pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation of affected joints. Symptoms of knee pain are often more prominent after you have been active, but you may also feel pain and stiffness after resting (most commonly in the morning).
In addition to physical symptoms of knee pain, osteoarthritis takes an emotional toll. A National Council on the Aging survey sheds light on the way OA hampers peoples’ lives:
- OA sufferers reported gaining an average of 42 pounds since their diagnosis. This is partly due to patients’ inability to exercise as much as they would like to – a feeling expressed by 75 percent of OA sufferers.
- Loss of sleep, which can take a serious toll on relationships, productivity and public safety, is another side effect of OA. 37 percent of sufferers report losing two or more hours or sleep per night due to pain.
OA is a progressive disease. While early treatment of osteoarthritis can slow things down, affected knee joints continue to get worse. You may experience flare-ups as well as periods when you feel no symptoms of knee pain at all.