5 Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis, and is characterized by degeneration of cartilage in the joint. The cartilage in your knee facilitates movement, protecting and padding the joint. When it starts to deteriorate, you may experience pain or other symptoms of knee arthritis that make everyday movements or exercise painful or difficult. 

Understanding and identifying early signs of knee arthritis can help you slow its progression and get effective treatment. For advanced knee arthritis treatments, reach out to our team at Heiden Orthopedics.


What Causes Knee Arthritis?

Different types of knee arthritis have different causes. Arthritis may be caused by:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Overuse
  • Trauma or injury
  • Being overweight
  • Certain medications

Some causes of arthritis are preventable by incorporating lifestyle changes and maintaining a healthy weight as you age. However, hereditary arthritis is typically hard to prevent, so proactive treatment is vital to preserving healthy knees.

Knee Arthritis Symptoms

If you have knee arthritis, some activities may exacerbate your symptoms. At first your symptoms may be mild but tend to worsen over time. You may not think much of it at first, but lingering symptoms can indicate that you are developing knee arthritis, or knee rheumatoid arthritis. The following are some of the most common symptoms of knee arthritis. 

Pain or Stiffness in the Knee

Pain associated with knee arthritis can occur during certain activities involving walking, running, or jumping. It may also get worse with certain weather phenomena like rain. Stiffness can also make your knee hard to bend or limit your range of motion.

Swelling & Inflammation

Osteoarthritis can cause an accumulation of fluid around the knee in an attempt to reduce inflammation. The swelling typically worsens with movement or whenever your knee is bearing weight. You may notice that the affected knee is larger than the other, and the inflammation is usually also accompanied by pain or stiffness. 

Grinding, Popping, or Cracking Noises

Cartilage helps promote smooth movements, and deterioration of the cartilage can result in strange noises. Without the joint’s padding, you may hear a grinding noise during certain movements, such as walking up stairs. Cracking, popping, or other strange noises are indicative of bone spurs rubbing together while the knee is in motion.

Buckling or “Giving Out”

The muscles surrounding your knee joint may also weaken over time due to arthritis. Without a strong support system, the joint becomes unstable and more susceptible to buckling once weight is put on it.

Changes in Appearance

Deformities can develop as arthritis progresses. The muscles around the knee can weaken and provide a “sunken” appearance. The combination of other symptoms, such as swelling, can give the knee a strange appearance. These deformities range in severity, but even minor changes in appearance may indicate worsening arthritis. 

Treatment for Knee Arthritis with Dr. Heiden

There are a range of treatments for arthritis based on how much the condition has progressed, but they can include medication, injections, or surgery. Dr. Eric Heiden has over a decade of experience as an orthopedic surgeon in his own practice and can recommend the right treatment for you. As a former professional athlete, he is intimately familiar with the conditions that can plague the joints and is committed to providing comprehensive, high-quality care to each patient.


I believe the most telltale sign of arthritis (mine is osteoarthritis) is discomfort when sitting for long periods and where you can’t extend your knee joint. I wouldn’t call this pain, but it is certainly SEVERE DISCOMFORT. I have an NBA sized inseam and flying can be a big problem for me. Luckily seat spacing (on average) has improved in the last few years, but I typically need a right side aisle seat so I can extend my left knee into the aisle.


The following is for Dr. Heiden who treated me many years ago in Sacramento, CA, for a torn meniscus (Which, I remember, his internist student did not see; but Dr. Heiden showed it to me.). At that time, he did a torn meniscus repair (still have the video); but at the same time, showed me the advancing arthritis on both my knees (With his explanation, I understood why there was a 2nd MRI of my right knee; comparison don’t you know!).

In the interim, I have had a partial knee replacement of that same left knee. I have been in a contentious relationship with the VA in regard to disabilities which were acquired during my military career, exacerbated by my continual exposure to Agent Orange during my tour of duty in Vietnam during that “war.” The VA continues to offer the excuse, they do not have my medical records in this regard.

They do have a copy of medical exams done on me during my career which reflect the arthritis was present at least as early as 1980 (I retired in 1981) after having suffered the injury which tore my meniscus in 1966 in Japan.

What I need from Dr. Heiden is some help in this regard. The question to be answered is this:

How do I obtain copies of the medical treatment records for my consultation with and subsequent surgery done by Dr. Heiden? Please advise how we can effectuate this occurring. My telephone number is (916) 486-3566 and e-mail is rjcas@att.net. This information is necessary in order to put to rest the VA failure to do its own due diligence in this regard, since they were provided an authorization for medical record release. I am going to guess Dr. Heiden never received any request for information from the VA.

Whatever assistance can be provided in this matter will be greatly appreciated. And I think Dr. Heiden responded correctly to UC Med!



    I’m sorry to hear your are having such trouble. I hope we can be of some assistance.
    Our medical records coordinator, Monica, would be the best person to talk to. She can be reached @ 435-615-8822 option #2 (extension 100). One thing to note, most medical records aren’t kept beyond 7-10 years. If Monica can’t locate them for you, you may need to contact the facility in CA.


I am 66 years old, a retired Educator as of 10/1/2021, and will be a 20-year Cancer survivor October 2nd. I was diagnosed with “Spinal Arthritis” in 2002, which has since progressed to “Osteoporosis” throughout my body, including both knees.

I was put on “Fosamax” in the late 2012 or 2013 by the then “Rheumatologist,” but because of side effects and the recommendation of my primary physician at that time, I discontinued the meds, and has not been on any meds since that time. However, I have a constant pain in both hands below my shoulders-around the muscle areas of both hands, and especially in my right hand (where they removed 13 lymph nodes-2002), and under my arm. This is very concerning, and troubling, as when this happens, I can’t even lift my hand above waist-length, and is especially painful to comb my hair. Do you think there is reason to believe that this is something beyond “Osteoporosis?”

While knee replacements were recommended for both knees, I have not done neither one, because at the time I did not feel I wanted to go along with that, but since being retired and now on Medicare, I am afraid that the cost will be more devastating now.

I was told never to get blood pressure cuffs or have blood drawn from my right hand, and I have adhered to those rules since 2002. I was also diagnosed with “Thyroid” in 2002, but began meds later, and is /has been on the one drug “SYNT..” The goiter is small, and I visit my “Endocrinologist” annually.

Please advise what your thoughts are on my report.

Thank you!


    I am sorry you are experiencing constant pain.
    You would need to visit your doctor to determine if your pain is due to more than Osteoporosis. This will require a consultation. As for the knee replacements and Medicare – give Medicare a call. Inquire about your surgery benefits and how much they will potentially cover. Keep in mind that in-network facilities should be more cost effective for you. If your knees are a constant source of pain, discuss this with your doctor. Ask for treatment options within your budget. Happy healing.


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