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Signs & Symptoms Orthopedics

Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Signs and Symptoms

If your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury, it may be hard for you to perform simple activities such as walking or climbing stairs. You may even begin to feel pain while you're sitting or lying down. Symptoms may include severe knee pain that limits your everyday activities, including walking, going up and down stairs and standing up from a chair. You may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and you may need to use a cane or walker. You may also experience:

  • Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, day or night.
  • Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that doesn't improve with rest or medications.
  • Knee deformity, a bowing in or out of your knee.
  • Knee stiffness or the inability to bend and straighten your knee.

An additional symptom may be failure to get pain relief from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications, including aspirin and ibuprofen, often are most effective in the early stages of arthritis. Their effectiveness varies from person to person and may become less effective for patients with severe arthritis.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.