An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.
Knee Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis is a disease that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. It can be a serious disease affecting even the largest and strongest joints in the body. While we all expect to get a little stiffer as we get older, arthritis can seriously impact how we live our lives.
Knee arthritis is very common, affecting approximately one in five adults over the age of 45 in England, according to Arthritis Research UK. It usually occurs when the cushioning cartilage in the joint wears down, making the knee stiff and painful with certain movements.
Do you think you or someone you know may have arthritis in the knee? We are here to guide you through the signs of knee arthritis, the types of arthritis and treatments to ease the symptoms.
What causes arthritis in the knee?
There are three kinds of arthritis which are more likely to affect the knee:
This is the most common form of knee arthritis but can affect other joints as well. It’s also known as degenerative joint disease and is often associated with the wear and tear related to ageing.
This is an autoimmune disease, causing the immune system to attack healthy tissue in joints around the body, including the knee. This type of arthritis can affect people of any age.
A history of injury or trauma to the knee may lead to the development of arthritis. Injuries to knee ligaments make the joint less stable over time which can lead to cartilage breakdown.
The risk factors of Osteoarthritis
While the exact causes are unknown, there are some factors which are believed to increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:
- Age - as you get older, your risk of developing the condition increases, and the ability for cartilage to heal decreases.
- Weight - being overweight or obese puts additional stress on all joints, especially the knees.
- Injuries & joint stress - overusing your joint when it has not had enough time to heal after an injury or operation, as well as a lot of stress on the knees from sports or working an active job.
- Gender - osteoarthritis is more common in women than men, particularly over the age of 55.
- Other health conditions - if joints are severely damaged by a previous or existing condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
How can I prevent getting knee arthritis?
Sadly, it’s not possible to prevent osteoarthritis altogether, but you can minimise your risk of developing the condition by avoiding injury and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
- Exercise - instead of exercise that places strain on your joints and forces them to bear an excessive load, such as weight training or running, try exercises like swimming or cycling, where the strain on your joints is more controlled.
- Posture - it’s important to maintain good posture at all times and avoid being in the same position for long periods. If you work at a desk, ensure your chair is set to the correct height, and take regular breaks to move around. A desk that can be adjusted to a standing setting could also be a good option for you to stretch your legs.
- Losing weight - if you’re overweight, losing weight may help lower your chance of developing knee arthritis.
Exercise can sometimes become a little more difficult as we get older, so if you’re stuck for ideas – why not read our guide to the best activities for older people.
What are the symptoms of knee arthritis?
If you have osteoarthritis in your knees, both of your knees will usually be affected over time, unless it occurred due to an injury or another condition that only affects one knee.
Your knees may be in most pain when you walk, particularly if you’re going up or down hills or stairs. Occasionally, your knees may “give way” beneath you or you may find it difficult to straighten your legs.
The main symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness in your knee joints. For some people, the symptoms may come and go in episodes, which can be related to your activity levels or the weather. The symptoms can be continuous in more severe cases, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities.
Other symptoms may include:
- Joint tenderness
- Knee joints appearing slightly larger or more “knobbly” than usual
- A grating or crackling sound or sensation in your knees
- Limited range of movement in your knees
- Weakness and muscle wasting
- Increased stiffness and pain if you haven’t moved your knees for a while
Knee arthritis and falls
Some of the physical symptoms associated with arthritis can negatively affect balance which increases the risk of falling. Research has linked joint pain in the knee with an increased risk for falls, which sadly, can also increase the risk of injury for those who have arthritis.
Not only does maintaining the best possible physical health help to prevent falls, but so does ensuring that your home and work environments are as safe and non-hazardous as possible.
To avoid tripping, make sure you undertake regular checks of potential hazards such as rugs, carpets or wiring which can become obstacles. Our guide on preventing falls in the home can give you more advice on how to avoid common trip hazards in the home.
If you or a loved one suffers from osteoarthritis, wearing a personal alarm with automatic fall detection can be very beneficial as trips or falls can be more damaging, so someone will be on hand to help quickly if you do fall. The pendant or wristband can detect the fall without the wearer needing to press the button. This can be essential if your loved one has lost consciousness after banging their head, or is immobile following the fall.
What to do if you think you have knee arthritis
While it may be distressing, you should see your doctor if you have persistent symptoms of knee arthritis so they can confirm the diagnosis and prescribe any necessary treatment.
A GP may suspect osteoarthritis if:
- You’re aged 45 or over
- You have knee joint pain that gets worse the more you use your joints
- The stiffness in your joints isn’t there in the mornings or lasts less than 30 minutes
If your symptoms are slightly different, this may indicate another joint condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Further tests aren’t usually required but may be used to rule out other potential causes, such as a fractured bone or rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the stages of knee arthritis?
There are four stages of osteoarthritis:
- Minor - you’ve got some wear and tear in your knee joint; you probably won’t notice pain.
- Mild - you may start to feel pain and stiffness. However, there’s still enough cartilage to keep the bones from touching.
- Moderate - at this stage, the cartilage will have narrowed even further, and many bone spurs exist. You’ll experience more pain, especially when running, walking, squatting and kneeling. You’ll likely notice pain after long periods of rest as well.
- Severe - this means the cartilage is nearly gone. Your knee will be stiff, painful and possibly immobile. You may need surgery at this stage.
What treatments are available for arthritis?
Treatments for Osteoarthritis
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is a long-term condition which cannot be cured. However, it doesn’t necessarily worsen over time, and it can sometimes gradually improve. A variety of treatments are available to help reduce the symptoms and mild symptoms can sometimes be managed with simple measures such as:
- Regular exercise
- Losing weight (if you are overweight)
- Wearing suitable footwear or special insoles for arthritis
- Using special devices to reduce the strain on your joints during everyday activities
You may also benefit from wearing a smartwatch equipped with a step/activity counter to help remind you to move around and encourage you to lead a more active lifestyle.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The treatments for RA differ from that for osteoarthritis - they are designed to slow down the progress of the condition. Often, these treatments are divided into two main types: Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological therapies.
DMARDs work by blocking the effects of the chemicals released when your immune system attacks your joints, which could otherwise cause further damage to nearby bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
Biological treatments are a newer form of treatment given by injection. They work by stopping certain chemicals in your blood from activating your immune system to attack your joints.
If you suffer from arthritis, you will likely want pain relief when your symptoms flare up. Pain relief medication will depend on the severity of your symptoms, but initially, most GPs will recommend taking paracetamol. If this does not help control the pain, you may be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are painkillers that work by reducing inflammation and may either be given as a topical cream or an oral tablet.
If you suffer from chronic pain, opioids may be prescribed. Capsaicin cream is another option, which blocks the nerves that send pain signals to the affected area. When other treatments haven’t worked, some people may be offered steroid injections which are injected directly into the joint. These work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system.
In a small number of cases where the joint damage is particularly severe, surgery may be carried out to repair, strengthen or replace a damaged joint. There are a few common forms of surgeries for those suffering from different types of arthritis:
- Knee joint Replacement
While surgery may sound overwhelming, knee replacement is one of the most common forms of surgery for arthritis and can help you to regain your movement and reduce pain.
If you or a loved one suffer from arthritis and want to ensure that you maintain your independence, a digital in-home personal alarm can help you to feel more safe, knowing that someone is on hand in the event of an emergency. The SureSafe Guardian is equipped with a host of useful features for those who suffer from arthritis.
Call SureSafe's team of experts on 0800 112 3201 to learn more about our different personal alarms and how they can help you or a loved one when suffering from knee arthritis.