A New Angle on Knee OsteoarthritisMany older adults with arthritic knees suffer pain and loss of function. The effort of walking and climbing stairs can be an agony. A swollen joint with loss of motion can be the painful result of this condition.
Many people have an increased angle where the thighbone connects to the leg bone to form the knee joint. Instead of being a straight line, the bones make a slight angle. This is called varus. If the angle is large enough, the patient looks bow-legged. With varus of the knee, there is increased pressure along the inner edge of the joint.
Over time, the joint lining thins out and wears down to the bone. The bone surface can become worn and polished. This is called eburnation. Surgery may be needed. Surgery can straighten the knee angle, restore the cartilage, and improve function.
Correcting the angle of the knee unloads the joint, especially the inside or medial compartment. This operation is called a tibial osteotomy. By correcting the joint deformity, pressure is taken off the cartilage. A proper joint angle actually allows the cartilage to regrow, a process called regeneration.
Takeshi Kanamiya, MD, et al. The Influences of Biomechanical Factors on Cartilage Regeneration After High Tibial Osteotomy for Knees With Medial Compartment Osteoarthritis: Clinical and Arthroscopic Observations. In Arthroscopy. September 2002. Vol. 18. No. 7. Pp. 725-729.
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