Most us are familiar with the sound of occasional popping joints that rarely show cause for concern, but a new study from the Osteoarthritis Initiative shows that certain people who experience consistent joint popping, grating and grinding are more vulnerable to developing knee osteoarthritis. Knowing this in advance may give doctors the opportunity to treat patients before the problem becomes pronounced, potentially hedging off more severe forms of joint pain.

What is Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men. While it can occur even in young people, the chance of developing osteoarthritis increases after age 45. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected areas.

While age is a major risk factor, for some individuals it may be hereditary. For others, osteoarthritis of the knee can result from injury or infection or being overweight. The findings of this study may be helpful for identifying individuals at risk, potentially assisting with earlier diagnosis and intervention.

Thomas Degenhardt, M.D.

“While there is currently no way that we know of to stop the advance of pain in people who have already developed osteoarthritis, this study might lead us to speculate that people at risk who experience noisy joints could take measures to ensure longer term knee joint health,” says SRO orthopaedic surgeon Thomas C. Degenhardt, M.D. “Although prevention may be asking a bit too much, delaying the onset is quite feasible.”

People who experience grating, cracking, or popping sounds in or around the knee joint may be able to lower their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by taking measures to protect knee health sooner. Some simple measures include losing a few extra pounds – maintaining optimal weight will take pressure off the knee joints, and adopting an exercise routine to stay fit will help to keep joints flexible.

Treating Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Many knee injuries including osteoarthritis can be successfully treated with a change in lifestyle, using braces to support the joint, injections to relieve pain and rehabilitation exercises. Other injuries may require surgery to correct. An injured knee can obviously affect mobility, and clearly a healthy knee is necessary for basic every day movements such as sitting, standing and walking. But chronic, unrelenting knee pain can also lead to health complications and certainly diminished quality of life. When all else fails, Total Joint Replacement (TJR) is one option that proves beneficial in many cases.

What is TJR

Total joint replacement is one of the most successful contemporary surgical procedures thanks to refined surgical techniques, improved implant characteristics, aggressive physical rehabilitation and a focus on pain management, all of which have contributed to the success of TJR. Total joint replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty, works to repair severe injuries or to replace joints destroyed by arthritis and other bone diseases. It is performed to replace the ends of both bones in a damaged joint to create new joint surfaces. Weight-bearing joints are naturally under the greatest strain and are more likely to lose protective cartilage over time, particularly in the hips and knees.

About Santa Rosa Orthopaedics

At Santa Rosa Orthopaedics (SRO), a collaborative team of multi-specialist orthopedic surgeons and experienced physical and occupational therapists work together to bring the best outcomes to patients dealing with chronic knee issues including pain relief, recovery and rehabilitation.

SRO has set the model for exceptional orthopedic care for more than 60 years. In addition, SRO offers a broad range of nonsurgical and surgical treatments aimed at conditions that commonly affect bones, joints, tendons connective tissues and ligaments. To make an appointment or to learn more about SRO Orthopedic Surgeons, please visit the SRO website.