Causes of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Dr. Bassam Masri, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic Surgeon, discusses the causes of osteoarthritis of the knee.

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Dr. Bassam Masri, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic Surgeon, discusses the causes of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Bassam Masri, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic Surgeon

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

So osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common cause of arthritis of the knee.  

Now what that means it’s degeneration of the cartilage that lines the bones of the lower thigh and the upper leg, the femur and the tibia.  

So when that cartilage degenerates you end up with bone rubbing on bone that causes pain. So that’s the most common cause of arthritis in the knee.  

More rarely we’re seeing end stage arthritis, secondary to inflammatory arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis; with extremely effective treatment now of rheumatoid arthritis we’re seeing less and less rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis of the knee that requires surgery. But most patients who end up needing surgical treatment of arthritis of the knee have osteoarthritis.  

This can also be related to previous injuries. So some of the reasons that somebody might have an injury and end up with end stage osteoarthritis of the knee is a fracture of either the tibia - which is the top part of the leg bone - or the femur which is the thigh bone.  

So those are significant injuries we end up with displacement or damage to the cartilage at the same time that the bone is broken. Even after it’s fixed for many years later you can end up with end stage arthritis that may require surgical treatment. Other reasons are meniscal injuries so the meniscus is the cartilage that lies between the tibia and the femur.  In the old days those used to be removed.  

So once they’re removed that increases the pressure on the knee joint and that can cause degeneration arthritis or if you’ve had an anterior cruciate ligament tear that hasn’t been repaired or even if it has been repaired if there’s ongoing meniscal injury and meniscal damage that can also lead to osteoarthritis way down the road.  

If you’ve had an infection in the knee that can lead to rapid degeneration of the cartilage and that can also lead to arthritis of the knee. If you think that you have osteoarthritis of the knee or if you have any further questions you should talk to your physician.

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Presenter: Dr. Bassam Masri, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Orthopaedic Surgeon

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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