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5 Signs You Have Knee Osteoarthritis


If you are wondering if the pain in your knee is from arthritis, then this article is for you. While a proper diagnosis can only be made by a healthcare professional, we will present 5 common signs that can indicate that your knee pain is a result of osteoarthritis. 
Osteoarthritis or ‘OA’ is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. It is the wear-and-tear type of arthritis, or as health professionals call it, degenerative joint disease, or as the general public calls it, ‘Old Arthur’. This is where the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away.  It occurs most often in people over the age of 50, although it can occur in younger people, too. 
  1. PAIN: The hallmark symptom of OA is persistent pain. What matters is when the pain began, how long you have had it for, and when it bothers you. If your pain started a few weeks ago, then it is unlikely to be OA. Osteoarthritis pain usually develops gradually over many months and/or years and worsens over time. It is often described as a dull ache that worsens with activities that put stress on your knee joints, such as prolonged standing, walking long distances, going up/down steps, or running. The pain usually improves with rest but can also be pronounced after prolonged periods of inactivity, such as in the morning or after sitting for a long time. 
  1. STIFFNESS: With OA, your knee(s) might feel stiff first thing in the morning but after you move around or take a warm shower, they start to feel better. Then by the end of the day, they start to ache or swell or stiffen up. If you don’t move, you will feel stiffness and if you move too much, you will likely experience knee joint stiffness; that is, difficulty fully straightening or bending your knee. This can lead to ‘stiff leg’ walking or ‘limping’.
  1. SWELLING: Sometimes your arthritic knee will look larger than the non-arthritic knee and this can be due to the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes) or due to extra fluid that collects around the joint, making it look visibly swollen or puffy. The joint may feel warm to the touch and the surrounding tissues may also become tender when touched. You may notice swelling after long periods of inactivity (e.g. a long car ride or even when you first wake up in the morning). 
  1. BUCKLING / LOCKING: Bone spurs can develop as the cartilage deteriorates, which results in the bones rubbing together. This in turn affects the joint surface and can cause it to stick or lock up, making it hard to bend or straighten your knee, which affects so many daily activities such as walking, getting up from a chair or climbing stairs. This damage over time, can also make your knee joint unstable, which can cause it to buckle or give way, resulting in a fall or near fall. 
  1. GRINDING / POPPING SOUNDS: You might feel a crackling or grinding sensation when moving your knee joint. This can be accompanied by audible sounds, such as popping or crunching, during knee movements. The technical term for this is ‘crepitus’. This can occur when you’ve lost cartilage, which results in a rough and bumpy surface in your knee. So, when you bend or straighten your knee, these bumpy surfaces rub against each other, causing a grinding sensation and ‘snap-crackle-pop’ sounds.
There are many different causes for OA. They can be divided into 2 categories, modifiable (can be changed) and non-modifiable (cannot be changed).
Modifiable Risk Factors: 
  • excess weight (you can lose weight)
  • quadriceps weakness (you can strengthen your muscles)
  • certain occupations/jobs (you can change jobs or modify job duties)
  • repetitive activities (you can avoid these, e.g. stop running and start biking)
  • sports injury prevention (you can implement injury prevention strategies)
Non-modifiable Risk Factors: 
  • age (cannot change how old you are)
  • gender (cannot change your physiological make-up)
  • ethnicity (cannot change your race)
  • genetics (cannot change your DNA)
  • previous injury/trauma (cannot undo prior injuries/accidents) 
Osteoarthritis is typically diagnosed by your healthcare provider after a thorough medical history and examination of your knee joint. Usually, X-rays are ordered to rule out any other cause of your pain and can show the wear-and-tear of your joint. 
Personally, I am not a fan when the doctor tells you that you are ‘bone on bone’ or you have ‘severe degenerative changes’ or ‘that’s one of the worst knees I have seen’, because it plants a seed in your brain that starts to flourish. Now is not the time to discuss the significance your brain has in your perception of pain, but know that once you hear those words, you can’t unhear them. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep in mind, there are millions of people walking around with knees that have major radiographic (x-ray) changes but may have no symptoms associated with it. The X-rays are just one component to consider. 
You don’t have knee replacement surgery because your x-rays look ‘bad’. You have surgery because the pain is severe and it’s impacting your daily life.  
Key Points:
The 5 signs that you have knee OA are:
  1. The pain in your knee has been gradually worsening over time and increases with activity.
  2. Your knee feels stiff first thing in the morning, at the end of the day or if you do too much activity.
  3. You notice swelling in your knee.
  4. Your knee sometimes locks-up and/or buckles.
  5. Your knee crackles and pops when you bend and straighten it. 
Unfortunately, we don’t fully understand why some people get knee arthritis and others don’t. We all know individuals who were marathon runners their entire lives who don’t have OA in their knees. The exact mechanism of cartilage loss and bone changes is unknown. 
There is no cure for knee OA. Once your pain worsens to the point that it impacts your day-to-day tasks, is when you will consult with your doctor as to what to do next. Oftentimes, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for a consultation on how best to manage your knee pain. 
Please watch this video, ‘5 Things to Know Before Knee Replacement Surgery’ as there are many helpful tips to consider well before having major surgery. 


My advice is to maintain a healthy weight, avoid activities that place additional stress on your knee if possible, and follow an exercise plan that strengthens the muscles around your knee joint. 
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options. 
Whether you’re planning on knee replacement surgery, or already have had a knee replacement, GoKnee is the best device + home exercise program on the market for your recovery. We’re clinically proven to cut recovery time in half, and back it with a 30-day guarantee. 
Try GoKnee today for $100 off, use code GO100 at checkout.

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Whether you’re planning on knee replacement surgery, or already have had a knee replacement, GoKnee is the best device + home exercise program on the market for your recovery. We’re clinically proven to cut recovery time in half, and back it with a 30-day guarantee. Try GoKnee today for $100 off, use code GO100 at checkout.

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