North Hampshire Hospital
The Hampshire Clinic
Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK

Mr John Britton FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Information for patients undergoing orthopaedic treatment



Arthritis of the knee

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is frequently attributed (falsely) to 'wear and tear.' It is characterized by loss of the normal articular cartilage, particularly on the inner half of the knee. Ultimately when the cartilage wears completely bone bears directly on bone and the knee becomes increasingly painful.

Early arthritis affecting inner side
of knee
More severe arthritis

The knee may also be affected by any of the inflammatory arthritides, of which rheumatoid arthritis is the most common. In rheumatoid arthritis there is widespread destruction of the joint, often associated with marked deformity of the joint.

The symptoms of arthritis are of pain that is made worse by exercise. As the arthritis becomes more severe general mobility is reduced. Rest pain may also become more troublesome and sleep may be disturbed

Treatment of mild arthritis is with anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen, diclofenac) and physiotherapy. If these measures are unsuccessful surgery may be necessary; there are a number of options:

  • Arthroscopy:  Early cases of arthritis may be treatable by arthroscopy.
  • Osteotomy:  Correction of deformity (e.g. bow legs) may be helpful in young patients who have specific types of arthritis.
  • Knee replacement: This is the mainstay of management of the arthritic knee. For further details click here.


J M Britton 2007

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