What Is Tricompartmental Osteoarthritis? Its Symptoms And Diagnosis

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Tricompartmental osteoarthritis refers to a type of knee osteoarthritis in which all three of your knee compartments become affected. The first compartment is the medial femoral tibial that is located on the side of your knee.

The second is the patellofemoral compartment made by kneecap and femur. The third one is a lateral femoral-tibial compartment that is present outside of your knee. 

OA can cause damage to any of these parts. When it appears in all three compartments, it is called tricompartmental osteoarthritis. The impact can be more complicated when three parts of your knee become affected by OA.


Tricompartmental osteoarthritis’s symptoms are not different from the symptoms of unicompartmental OA. But they affect all of your three parts of knee joints. Symptoms include: 

  • Stiffness and swelling in the area of your knee. Swelling in Knees
  • The problem in straightening and bending the knee
  • Getting inflammation after performing any activity
  • Swelling and pain that can become worse at night or in the morning
  • Pain that enhances after resting or sitting
  • Grinding, creaking, and snapping noise from the knee
  • Buckling and weakness in the knee
  • Difficulty walking around without any support
  • Locking of the joint due to deformation and bone fragments
  • Lumps appearance on the bone

An X-ray may report damage to the area of bone and fragment. It also reveals information about loose bone fragments

Risk Factors

Multiple risk factors can enhance your risk of getting OA including tricompartmental osteoarthritis. These risk factors include obesity, older age, joint injuries, sex, genetics, and certain other activities that put stress on the knee joint.

Deformities of soft tissues and bones can also put you at risk to develop tricompartmental osteoarthritis. People who are born with knee cartilage and joints are more vulnerable to developing OA.


The doctor will get information about your symptoms. Criteria to make the diagnosis of OA include pain in the area of the knee and three or more symptoms that are given below.

  • Tenderness in the area of knee bones
  • Minimal warmth in the area of joint
  • Stiffness at the time of morning for 30 to 40 minutes
  • Grating or feeling of cracking in the knee that is called crepitus

Your doctor will carry out an X-ray to get the detail about the space present between the bones of your knee. 

If the space between joints is narrow, it means an individual has more severe disease including cartilage erosion. The doctor will also try to find out bony growth formation.

It is known as osteophytes. When bones rub against one another, you might have osteophytes. Alterations may not be visible at the initial stages of OA. But tricompartmental osteoarthritis can be more severe. Other assessments include MRI which reports the damage of soft tissues.

Examples of these soft tissues are ligaments and cartilage. You may have to go through the lab tests in order to proceed with another diagnosis if you are suspected of tricompartmental osteoarthritis. 


No exact cure is available for tricompartmental osteoarthritis and certain other types of OA. The reason is that it is not possible for doctors yet to replace the damaged cartilage. Treatment is focused on slowing and managing the progression of tricompartmental osteoarthritis symptoms.

Exercise And Weight Management

Exercise and weight management play an important role in managing the symptoms of tricompartmental osteoarthritis. Losing weight is helpful in decreasing pressure on the area of the knee. Exercises keep the muscles of your knee strong. It also helps to support the joint of the knee.

A physical therapist or doctor might recommend you to swim in order to switch from performing high-impact exercises to the ones that are low-impact. Other options that are suitable include stretching exercises, tai chi, cycling, and walking.

Medical Devices

Examples of medical devices include kinesio tape, a type of dressing that works to support your joint and allow it to move. It also includes a walker or brace that helps people to walk. 

Experts do not suggest modified shoes because there is not enough research to prove that these are helpful for reducing the symptoms of tricompartmental osteoarthritis. Always take advice from your doctor before using any medical device.

Follow the guidelines of your physical therapist and doctor to recover quickly. It will help you to manage the symptoms of tricompartmental osteoarthritis successfully. Moreover, it saves you from developing complications that can become irreversible after a long run. 

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