Information is provided by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

What is knee osteoarthritis (OA knee)?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition of the joints that becomes more prevalent as one ages.

OA commonly affects the knee, the hip, and the small joints of the hand. The exact cause of OA is not known, but various factors can contribute to its development. These factors include gender (OA is more common in females), genetic influences, severe trauma/fractures about the knee, and chronic excessive use of the knee, e.g. through hard labour.

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The primary problem in OA is the degeneration of cartilage, where thickness of the cartilage will gradually decrease. Pain will increase along with cartilage wear. In severe cases, the femur will come in direct contact with the tibia (bone-to-bone contact). The body’s natural response in an attempt to prevent further damage may cause the formation of bone spurs. Large bone spurs will reduce the range of motion of the knee.

The following diagrams show the different stages of knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Mild osteoarthritis knee front view


Moderate osteoarthritis knee front view

Severe osteoarthritis knee front view


Patellofemoral Osteoarthritis (PFOA) affects the kneecap (patella bone).


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Ref: L20

Other osteoarthritis articles you may be interested in:

Osteoarthritis: What You Need to Know

Osteoarthritis Prevention: What You Can Do