Are your knees tender and stiff after walking all day? Mild knee pain could indicate you are already in Stage 2 of osteoarthritis. The faster you receive treatment for your condition at Spine Correction Center in Fort Collins, the better chance you have of slowing its progression. Here’s a look at the five stages of osteoarthritis, from healthy joints at Stage 0 to severe knee osteoarthritis at Stage 4.
Stage 0: Healthy Joints
If you’re in Stage 0 of osteoarthritis, you have healthy joints and the proper amount of cartilage. Joint function is normal, and you experience no pain or restricted range of motion. No treatment is necessary for people in Stage 0.
Stage 1: Early Signs of Osteoarthritis
As your joints begin to develop minor bone spurs, known as osteophytes, you enter Stage 1 of knee osteoarthritis. Cartilage levels also start decreasing by about 10 percent, but it’s still unlikely for you to experience any symptoms. Regular doctor visits are required to diagnose your condition at this early stage.
As long as your joints don’t cause you any pain or restrict your range of motion, no treatment is required. However, it may be wise to implement simple stretches and exercises to help decrease joint irritation and slow the progression of your disease, especially if you’re predisposed to osteoarthritis or have another medical condition that increases your risk.
Stage 2: Mild Knee Osteoarthritis
This is the stage when you start to experience symptoms, including:
- Knee tenderness after long walks
- Stiffness after sitting for a long time
- Pain in your knees when you kneel or squat
X-rays reveal what’s happening to your joints in Stage 2 of osteoarthritis. Bone spur growth has most likely accelerated, but cartilage and synovial fluid levels are probably still high enough that your bones aren’t rubbing together yet.
If you begin to experience symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, and you haven’t already sought treatment, now is the time to do so. The medical team at Spine Correction Center can create a personalized treatment plan to reduce your symptoms and slow the deterioration of your joints. At this stage, we may suggest:
- Exercise, including low-impact aerobics and strength training
- Avoiding activities that irritate your knees, such as squatting, kneeling, and jumping
- Wearing a knee brace or shoe inserts to relieve pressure from your knees
Stage 3: Moderate Knee Osteoarthritis
At this stage, apparent signs of joint damage are visible on X-ray images. The cushion between your bones continues to deteriorate, causing pain when you walk, run, kneel, or bend your knees. Morning stiffness is common, and joint swelling causes additional tenderness after strenuous activities.
If the methods you used in Stage 2 are no longer capable of keeping your symptoms at bay, we may suggest Supartz knee injections, which are designed to lubricate your joints and decrease pain caused by osteoarthritis. Supartz promotes cartilage healing and can significantly slow the progression of your disease.
Stage 4: Severe Knee Osteoarthritis
The fourth and final stage of knee osteoarthritis is the most painful. By this time, the cartilage between your bones has decreased by 60 percent or more, and large osteophytes have grown. Synovial fluid levels have also declined, causing friction and making your joints difficult to use. These problems make walking, bending, and other activities very painful.
Because Stage 4 of knee osteoarthritis is so severe, it may be time to consider more invasive treatments to improve your condition. Bone realigned surgery (osteotomy) and knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty) are two viable options to consider as a last resort when exercises and injections are no longer enough.
Schedule a Free Knee Pain Consultation at Spine Correction Center
No matter what stage of knee osteoarthritis you believe you are in, we can begin treatment to help decrease your pain and improve your quality of life. We’ll explore your risk factors, symptoms, and other considerations to ensure we suggest the very best treatment plan for you.
For diagnosis and treatment of your knee pain, please call Spine Correction Center in Fort Collins at (970) 658-5115 or schedule your free consultation online!