Knee arthritis is probably the most frequent knee condition requiring surgery. The most common type of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis, with other forms being rheumatoid arthritis and post traumatic arthritis.
The underlying problem with all types of knee arthritis is loss of the articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is specialised cartilage which covers the ends of the bones providing an extremely smooth, low friction surface which allows the knee joint to move.
When the cartilage wears out in arthritis, the bare ends of the bone come in contact causing pain. Spurs (also called osteophytes) and cysts can form as a result of this. There is no treatment that would regenerate the cartilage once it has worn.
In the early stages of arthritis the pain can be treated with paracetamol and simple anti-inflammatory drugs. Sometimes injections or arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) can also be used.
In more advanced stages, knee replacement surgery is the only treatment available.