Arthritis Home > Knee Osteoarthritis

The knees are among the most common locations for osteoarthritis symptoms to develop. Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee can range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to severe joint pain that continues even while you're trying to sleep. Osteoarthritis is sometimes linked with being overweight, having weak thigh muscles, and injuring or overusing the knees. Treatment options can include exercise, medicines, and surgery.

What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is thought to affect over 20 million people in the United States. The condition starts when cartilage begins to become ragged and wears away. Cartilage is the tissue that pads bones in a joint. Over time, all of the cartilage in a joint can wear away, leaving bones that rub against each other.
 
You are most likely to have osteoarthritis in your hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees (knee osteoarthritis) and hips (hip osteoarthritis).
 
(Click Osteoarthritis Joint to see the impact that osteoarthritis has on joints, including the knee joint.)
 

What Causes It?

Osteoarthritis research scientists do not know the exact cause or causes of knee osteoarthritis. Growing older is what most often puts you at risk for this condition. Knee osteoarthritis can be linked to:
 
  • Being overweight
  • Having weak thigh muscles
  • Injuring or overusing the knees.
     
(Click Causes of Osteoarthritis for more information on the risk factors.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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