As we age, knee cartilage can crack and wear away. This damage is called osteoarthritis. The damage can also be triggered by injury or disease. As healthy cartilage tears away, you may notice aching, stiffness, or pain. You might also notice swelling or a feeling of grinding. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatment can make it easier to live with.
Possible treatments include:
- Medicine and moist heat to reduce pain and irritation.
- Physical therapy and exercise to help keep knee flexible and the supporting muscles strong.
- Weight loss to help reduce pressure on the knee. Extra weight can make arthritis worse.
- Surgery to improve function in the knee or to remove broken pieces or cartilage in the joint. If your arthritis is severe, your doctor may suggest a total knee replacement (putting in an artificial joint).