Osteoarthritis of the hip & knee

Support and guidance for patients and carers to help determine the level (from 1-4) of osteoarthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition which can affect any joint, but it most commonly affects the large weight bearing joints such as the knee and hip.

The cartilage which protects the surface of your joints get worn/ damaged which causes friction and prevents the joint from moving smoothly.

The joint can become swollen, the joint can change shape and the muscles can feel weaker.

What are the risk factors?

  • Age – the onset of OA is usually in the late 40’s and is more common in the older population
  • Genetics – there is some evidence to suggest OA can have a tendency to run in the family
  • Obesity – being overweight puts a higher demand on the joints and is certainly a risk factor to predispose you to early onset OA
  • Joint injury – a significant injury may increase the likelihood of developing OA in that joint later
  • Joint disease – diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis may cause damage leading to OA

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of this condition will depend upon the severity of the condition but they may include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Crepitus (crunchy grinding sounds from the joint)

Click on the most appropriate level to get more information, useful advice and web links. You may click on diagrams to enlarge them:

Level 1 – Early arthritis

At this stage you have a good cartilage cover on your knee/hip
(i.e. a good tread on your tyre)osteo-pic-joint-level1

Level 1

Symptoms: Intermittent aches and pains, often on the inside of the knee in its case. You may experience  short lived sharp pains. You may have occasional swelling and notice some weakness of muscles at the front of the leg.

Level 2 – Moderate arthritis

At this stage your cartilage is worn and there are some bald patches (i.e. the tyre thread is wearing low)

Level 2

Symptoms: More constant aches and occasional severe pains often affecting the whole knee or hip. The area may remain swollen and sometimes be warm to touch. It may be ‘thickened’ and change in shape and the muscles may look smaller.

Level 3 – Advanced arthritis

At this stage there is very little cartilage left and there
are very large bald patches (i.e. the tyre is bald)osteo-pic-joint-level3

Level 3

Symptoms: Constant ache/pain often severe affecting the whole knee or hip. The area may be swollen, thickened, stiff and there is often pain on weight bearing. The muscles may look smaller and feel weak.

Level 4 – The surgical stage

At this stage you are no longer able to tolerate or manage your symptoms.

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