Causes of Knee arthritis

Knee arthritis is very common in the Western World. There are several causes of knee osteoarthritis that we understand.

First and foremost, trauma to the knee results in osteoarthritis. This can be damage to the joint surface, caused by direct injury to the joint, or damage to one of the structures, such as the anterior cruciate ligament and the menisci. These injuries alter the mechanics of the knee joint and, in particular, loss of the meniscus increases the load transmitted across the joint surfaces, accelerating the rate of wear of the joint. It is also acknowledged that obesity plays a part in causing knee arthritis and certainly exacerbates symptoms of arthritis (which is why weight reduction is important in treating the symptoms of knee arthritis).

There may be a genetic cause for knee arthritis but at the present time this is unclear. Undoubtedly, the incidence of knee arthritis in the younger age groups is increasing and this may be as a result of increased leisure time and involvement in sport, resulting in more knee injuries. The management of knee arthritis in younger people is challenging (see “Surgical Options”).