Osteoarthritis Frequently Asked Questions

What is Osteoarthritis ?

  • This procedure is available at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.
  • To find a physician and schedule a MAKOplasty appointment call:

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of arthritis and a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of joint cartilage. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a cushion between the bones of a joint. A normal knee glides smoothly because cartilage covers the ends of the bones that form the joints. With osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away, allowing bones under the cartilage to rub together.

What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?

The root cause of OA is unknown, but multiple factors influence the risk of developing symptomatic OA: such as age, gender and inherited traits that can affect the shape and stability of the patient’s joints. Other risk factors may include:

  • A previous knee injury
  • Repetitive strain on the knee
  • Improper joint alignment
  • Being overweight
  • Exercise or sports-generated stress placed on the knee joint

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee?

OA of the knee is often recognized by observing the following symptoms:

  • Pain while standing or walking short distances, climbing up or down stairs, or getting in and out of chairs
  • Pain with activity
  • Start up pain or stiffness when activities are initiated from a sitting position
  • Joint stiffness after getting out of bed
  • Swelling in one or more areas of the knee
  • A grating sensation or crunching feeling in the knee during use

How is osteoarthritis of the knee diagnosed?

The physician first reviews a patient’s medical history and symptoms. He or she will observe the natural movement of the knee, evaluate the knee and ankle joint alignment, and check the patient’s reflexes, muscle strength, range of motion and ligament stability in the affected knee.

The physician may order x-rays to determine how much joint or bone damage has been done, how much cartilage has been lost and if there are bone spurs present. Additional medical imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to determine exactly where the damage is and its extent. The physician may also order blood tests to rule out other causes of symptoms, or order a joint aspiration which involves drawing fluid from the joint through a needle and examining the fluid under a microscope.

How is osteoarthritis treated?

Whether the patient’s OA is mild or severe, the physician will most likely recommend certain lifestyle changes to reduce stress on the knee joints. Additional disease and pain management strategies may include: physical therapy, steroid injections, over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or topical pain relieving creams.

Patients should speak with their physician if symptoms aren’t responding to non-surgical solutions, or if their pain can no longer be controlled by medication. These patients may be candidates for surgery.

MAKOplasty® partial knee resurfacing is a new treatment option that may be more suitable than total knee replacement for those with painful early to mid-stage osteoarthritis of the knee, affecting only one or two components of the knee, and who prefer a less invasive surgery than total knee arthroplasty.

To find a physician and schedule a MAKOplasty appointment call 888-863-5502


The procedure is available at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.