Arthritis is the physical wearing away of the protective cartilage surface covering the ends of our bones at a joint. When functioning appropriately, this cartilage surface allows smooth and painless motion at our joints. As the cartilage wears out over time or after injury, the worn ends of the bones contact causing pain and sometimes crepitus (audible or palpable grinding of the bony surfaces). Arthritis symptoms generally progress over time at an unpredictable rate (months, years, decades) and can have periods of decreased or increased pain and symptoms. Arthritis is often associated with pain and stiffness with the initiation of movement after a period of prolonged rest, particularly in the morning (morning stiffness).
It is important to continue to use and move an arthritic knee joint but do not to overuse it. By keeping the intensity and frequency of your activity below the level that causes joint pain and aggravation, you will feel better and get more miles out of your joints. Appropriate exercises can improve the overall function of the affected knee joint and reduce pain. Again, it is important to remember to keep the intensity and frequency below the level that causes pain. Weight loss, medications such as Tylenol™ and steroid injections also can help.