Hip and Knee Joint Arthritis
Hip and Knee Joint
The Hip Joint along with the Knee Joint are both major joints in our bodies as they allow us to walk, run and jump. The hip joint connects the upper leg bone (Femur) to the pelvic bone while the knee joint connects the upper leg bone (Femur) to the lower leg bones (Tibia and Fibula).
These joints, like the facet joints in our spine, are synovial joints, which means they have cartilage and joint fluid. This provides a smooth surface for the moving bones to glide past each other. These joints are very flexible as well and have to support half of the body’s weight along with other forces acting on the body. During running and jumping, for example, the force on the hip joint is multiplied by many times the force exerted by the body’s weight.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis refers to the process of degeneration of a joint which usually occurs as we age. Over time the cartilage that cushions the joint starts to break down. Without cartilage the bones rub together with movement. The inflammation involved with the breakdown of the joint can lead to abnormal growth of bone, or bone spurs.
The most common cause of osteoarthritis is age. Most of us will eventually develop some degree of osteoarthritis as we get older. Several other factors, however, increase the risk of developing arthritis at an earlier age, including:
Weight – weight increases the load and pressure on all of the joints in our bodies, but especially the hips and knees. Every pound of excess weight gained adds an average of 3 to 4 pounds of extra weight on the knees. This extra weight leads to faster degeneration and cartilage breakdown.
- Heredity – certain people have genes that make them more prone to developing arthritis at an earlier age, and these genes can be passed on from one generation to the next.
- Gender – women age 55 years of age and older are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee than men.
- Repetitive Stress Injuries – certain activities such as kneeling, squatting and lifting heavy weight (more than 55 pounds) can place excess stress on our joints. People with jobs that require these types of activities are more likely to develop osteoarthritis from constant pressure on the joints.
- Athletics – regular moderate exercise strengthens muscles and joints and can decrease the risk of osteoarthritis. Athletes who are constantly placing stress on their joints, like soccer players or long-distance runners, however, may be at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis, especially in the knee.
What are the Symptoms of Hip and Knee Joint Arthritis?
The earliest symptom of Arthritis of the hip or knee is stiffness. Pain and difficulty walking usually accompany further breakdown and loss of cartilage. Other symptoms can include a grating or cracking sensation with movement and tenderness and swelling around the joint.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people in the US have osteoarthritis and the knee is one of the most commonly affected areas. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men.