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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Knee Joints Weak

10/27/2009

Question:

Once RA causes knee joint weakness and disability, can it be repaired? Is knee replacement the same thing as strengthing the tendons around the knee? And is having swelling beneath the kneecap with both patellas spurriously elevated, a typical sign of RA, or is it found in other forms of arthritis?

Answer:

Currently, the damage that Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes to the cartilage and bone of a joint cannot be healed. That is why slowing or halting the damage with early and aggressive treatment is important.

Disability and the presence of arthritis do not always go hand-in-hand. Disability is very individualized because the factors that lead to disability are not just joint structure damage but also the sensation of pain, the amount of swelling, and an individual's personal attitude. For instance, a person may have arthritic changes to their knee but not have any knee pain. In this circumstance, that person would not have any disability. Furthermore, if some degree of functional decline is present, it can be improved with RA therapies that treat pain.

A knee joint replacement surgery replaces the bone/cartilage articulation surface with an artificial implant. It does not replace the tendons around the knee. Any arthritis (not just RA) that produces enough fluid swelling within the knee joint can cause the kneecap to be elevated.

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Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University