Knee RA refers to arthritis of the knee, an inflammatory disease that causes swelling and pain in the knee joint. The knee is one of the most common joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It is a serious autoimmune disorder and may cause severe pain. It may affect many of routine activities, including walking and getting dressed. This disease affects millions of people in the country, and can affect any age group. Early diagnosis and treatment is very important in successful management of the condition.
This disease is characterized by the thickening of the synovium, the tissue present between the bones in the knees. An excess of synovial fluid secreted in the space along with the inflammatory chemicals released by the immune system results in inflammation of the cartilage in the joints. This damages the cartilage, the cushioning tissue present between the bones, causing severe pain. The actual cause of this damage is still unknown. Genetics and environmental factors are considered to be involved in the initiation of the damage.
The most common signs and symptoms of knee rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Swelling and inflammation of the knee
- Severe pain
- Warmth in and around the joints in knees
- Stiffness of joints
- Flu-like symptoms
Pain and stiffness occur more often in the morning. The joints may become stiff and cause severe pain while bending and straightening. One may feel as if the knee joint is buckled or locked after being in the same position for some time.
Early diagnosis of the condition is very important in extending an appropriate and aggressive treatment for controlling the disease. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for the treatment of this condition. Regular exercise is equally important, along with the treatment in the case of knee RA. This will help in improving the strength of the muscles in the joint. Occupational therapy and physical therapy are also suggested in some cases.
When regular treatment options do not provide adequate relief from the symptoms, knee replacement surgery may be opted for. Total joint replacement usually gives a good outcome in the case of knee rheumatoid arthritis. Synovectomy, a procedure in which the affected synovium is removed, is performed in some cases. This procedure may provide relief for about five years and has a faster recovery rate.