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Arthritis is disease of a joint that may invlove pain, stiffness, swelling and/ or inflammation within the joint. The causes of knee joint arthritis range from degenerative types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, to inflammatory types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Treatment for the condition depends on the specific type of arthritis encountered.
Menisci can be torn by shearing forces of rotation that are applied to the knee during sharp, rapid motions. This is especially common in sports activities that require reaction body movements. There is a higher incidence with aging and degeneration of the underlying cartilage. More than one tear can be present in an individual meniscus. The patient with a meniscal tear may have a rapid onset of a popping sensation with a certain activity or movement of the knee.
With severe knee trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents and impact traumas, bone breakage (fracture) of any of the three bones of the knee can occur. Bone fractures within the knee joint can be serious and can require surgical repair as well as immobilisation with casting or other supports.
The swelling of the knee joint from arthritis can lead to a localised collection of fluid accumulating in a cyst behind the knee known as a Baker cyst. This is a common cause of pain at the back of the knee.
Infections of the bone or joint can rarely be a serious cause of knee pain. Symptoms of infection include fever, extreme heat, warmth of the joint, chills of the body.
This is due to the presence of an extra synovial fold or membrane (plica) inside the knee joint, usually on the medical side or inner aspect of the knee. When the plica causes friction or pressure on the joint surface, tenderness and pain on movement can result. This condition can effectively be treated by arthroscopy (keyhole surgery).
This refers to the softening of the cartilage under the kneecap (patella). It is a common cause of deep knee pain and stiffness in younger women and can be associated with pain and stiffness after prolonged sitting and climbing stairs or hills. Treatment with anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs and rest can provide short-term relief of the condition. The long term cure is to strengthen the quadriceps muscles of the front of the thigh through exercises.
Bursitis of the knee commonly occurs on the inside of the knee (anserine bursitis) and the front of the kneecap (patellar bursitis, or "housemaid's knee"). Bursitis is generally treated with ice packs, immobilisation, and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Brufen) or aspirin and may require local injections of corticosteroids (cortisone medication) as well as exercise therapy to develop the musculature of the front of the thigh.