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Arthritis May Be Causing Knee Pain

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My knee started hurting the other day when I walked up our stairs. I am a 64-year-old female and have not injured my knee. So, what could be causing my knee pain? I have been walking up our stairs for over 25 years with no problems until now. Should I take Glucosamine?



Dear Uncomfortable,

You could be getting some arthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, frequently affecting the knee, although other joint surface such as the hip and fingers can be affected. OA is sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis, affecting mainly older folks and more often women than men. OA can be caused by heredity, injury (from the past or recent), overuse, or obesity.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

1. Joint pain

2. Joint swelling

3. Joint stiffness

4. On fingers: cysts in end joints closest to the fingernails.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

1. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDSs, i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen).

2. Weight loss if overweight

3. Exercise, strengthening and stretching

4. Hot and cold compresses to reduce pain and swelling

5. Crutches or canes

6. Injections of cortisone or for the knee, hyaluronic acid as a lubricating substance

7. Surgery for severe pain that is not relieved by any other method (fusion, osteotomy, scoping, joint replacement)

If your knee pain persists for more than a week, or you develop increased pain, stiffness, or swelling, then see your doctor. To determine if you have OA, your physician may take x-rays and blood tests.

Generally, independent studies (not funded by a corporation with ties to the product) have concluded that glucosamine has not been shown to be beneficial for arthritis of the knee or hip, with no statistical difference between glucosamine and placebo in symptom relief nor retarding radiographic progression (Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, at