Osteoarthritis, also called age-related arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. It can cause the cartilage in the knee joint to wear out, resulting in pain, stiffness and difficulty with daily activities. Patellofemoral arthritis specifically affects the kneecap.

When cartilage in the joint wears away or degenerates, it becomes frayed. If the wear is severe, the underlying bone becomes exposed and movement of the knee and/or kneecap become painful.

Causes of knee osteoarthritis include genetics, ligament or meniscus damage, repetitive strain injuries, obesity, diseases of the cartilage, and previous trauma to the knee joint.

Most people who have knee osteoarthritis experience these symptoms:

  • Pain in the knee joint
  • Pain in front of the knee (with patellofemoral arthritis)
  • Stiffness and loss of mobility when bending or straightening the knee Swelling around the joint
  • Difficulty getting out of a chair, squatting, kneeling, or climbing stairs
  • Crackling sound (called crepitus) when moving the knee

Treatment of knee arthritis typically includes weight loss (if overweight), exercise, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, hot and cold packs, and supportive devices such as canes or crutches.

When osteoarthritis pain is severe and interferes with normal activities, a knee specialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group may recommend surgery. This may involve joint replacement to reduce pain and restore knee function. For patellofemoral arthritis, it may involve surgery to trim and smooth roughened arthritic joint surfaces.