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Osteoarthritis of the Knee

What is osteoarthritis of the knee?

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee refers to a degenerative process in which the structures inside the knee degenerate, or wear out, over time. This is a process that occurs over several years and involves a slow breakdown of the cartilage lining the surfaces of the knee joint. It is associated with abnormal bony overgrowths known as spurs, or osteophytes. As the cartilage wears out, spaces in the knee joint become narrower over time (seen on X-ray). It is associated with a variety of factors, including age and genetics, but may also be related to a history of injury.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis can lead to pain, stiffness, swelling and knee dysfunction. Some individuals may also feel a grinding sensation inside the knee.

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed through an evaluation by your doctor as well as X-rays, which will show evidence of the degenerative process.

How is osteoarthritis treated?

There are a variety of treatments that your physician can offer you to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis. These include injections, knee bracing, physical therapy, icing and medications. Flexibility exercises should be done to promote normal range of motion around the joint. Specific strengthening exercises can provide joint support and improve function, without producing symptoms. Severe osteoarthritis may be unresponsive to nonsurgical measures. In this case, knee replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty, may be considered.

Sports Medicine Appointments & Referrals


Sports Medicine Locations

UC San Diego Health offers expertise in sports medicine within family medicine, orthopedics, surgery and rehab. Not all services are available at all locations.

La Jolla



Scripps Ranch

Total & Partial Knee Replacement

The Center for Joint Care is the one place in San Diego where patients with degenerative joint disease or pre-arthritic conditions receive advanced comprehensive joint care. Call 858-657-8200.