Stiff Knees

Common Reasons for Stiff Knees

Millions of people live with stiff knees, some on a mild level, and some to a debilitating degree.  The cause for stiffness in the knees could be a number of things but most commonly, it is due to osteoarthritis, which is a type of degenerative knee disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or damaged cartilage, usually the result of running or playing sports.  Of course, there are many other reasons for joint stiffness.  For instance, if a person has a viral infection of the joints, stiffness along with fever would be seen.

Regardless of the cause, when knee joints are stiff, there is discomfort and usually pain.  Although miserable to experience, the positive thing to remember is that stiff knees do not constitute an emergency.  Therefore, the goal would be to see a doctor so a firm diagnosis as to the cause could be made.  From there, the doctor would be able to recommend the best treatment option to give the person much-needed relief.

It is important for people to get adequate and appropriate care when the cause of stiff knees has been identified in that left untreated, the person could deal with depression, permanent immobility, and even additional damage.  In fact, if not treated, joint deformity would be a possible consequence.  At that point, the person could easily end up on crutches, a walker, or even in a wheelchair for life.

If stiff knees were caused by osteoarthritis or arthritis, along with stiffness there would be swelling and pain.  Keep in mind that while most people relate these illnesses to the elderly, they can affect the younger generation as well.  In fact, it is common to see former athletes, such as former runners and football players whose bodies have been pushed so hard that now they live with osteoarthritis or arthritis.  For treatment, anti-inflammatory and pain medication would be prescribed.  In addition, the doctor may recommend a knee brace to provide needed support.

In the case of stiff knees being from damage associated with the cartilage, diagnosis would be confirmed via an x-ray or MRI.  In most cases, staying off the knee as much as possible, avoiding deep bending, and putting the feet up whenever possible would certainly help.  The doctor would again prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain medication, and a brace may be recommended.  However, depending on the type and severity of the cartilage damage, surgery may be needed to shave off the rough spots so when moving, there would not be bone-on-bone.  The result would be immediate pain relief and reduction of stiffness.

Finally, if stiff knees were caused by rheumatoid arthritis, treatment would be a little more complex.  Again, it would be common for anti-inflammatory and pain medication to be prescribed, as well as the person being told to wear a brace.  However, because rheumatoid arthritis is a very aggressive autoimmune disease, treatment is typically more challenging.  For instance, surgery may help some people but in others, it might not make any difference at all.

The bottom line is that stiff knees are not fun to live with no matter the cause but because the problem could be from so many different things, each with unique treatments, it would be imperative to see a doctor.  Then, following the doctor’s orders for recovery would put that person on the path to healing.  Usually, it takes time for joints to heal but patience would go a long way in reaching the ultimate goal.