Arthrosis of the knee, or gonarthrosis, mainly affects women, usually after the age of 40. At an earlier age, this condition may develop as a result of injury or professional sports. A particularly severe course of the disease is seen in people who are overweight or suffer from varicose veins in the lower extremities.
The onset of the disease is characterized by the appearance of moderate knee pain during movement, especially when walking on stairs. In addition, pain can occur if a person stands for a long time or gets up after a long sitting. At rest, the pain usually subsides. Acute and intense pain in arthrosis of the knee joint does not occur spontaneously, it is usually preceded by long-term discomfort when walking, physical activity. It is the gradual increase in pain that is one of the main signs of gonarthrosis.
Stages of the disease
In the initial stage of gonarthrosis development, the knee bones do not change shape, only swelling of the joint can occur, which is usually associated with the accumulation of fluid in the knee. If the amount exceeds the permitted level, edema develops, affecting the back of the leg. In that case, you can relieve the swelling with the help of anti-inflammatories.
The next stage of knee arthrosis is characterized by a significant increase in pain intensity. The pain is felt even after a light load, there is a crack in the knee joint, which intensifies with the progression of the disease. The patient bends the leg with difficulty, the pain is severe, until the total impossibility of bending the knee. Even in the second stage of the disease, the joint begins to change shape, which becomes quite noticeable on palpation - the expansion and engorgement of the joint bones is felt. Synovitis manifests itself much more strongly at this stage - the appearance of swelling as a result of the accumulation of fluid.
The third stage of the disease is characterized by the appearance of severe pain that occurs even at rest. The patient has long been looking for a suitable position, in which the pain will be weaker. With impaired blood circulation, pain can disturb the person even while sleeping, causing a sensation of joint pain. Joint mobility is minimized, the person is often unable to keep the leg straight and is forced to bend it when walking. With a significant deformation of the bones, the gait becomes waddled, a change in the shape of the lower extremities becomes noticeable.
How to recognize knee joint arthrosis?
The patient is initially referred for a blood test, followed by an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
In some cases, ultrasound or arthroscopy (examination of the joint with a special device through a small incision) may be prescribed.
During the radiographic examination, the stage of the disease is determined, the image shows changes in the joint and bones, as well as the distance between the bones. In the early stage of the disease, changes in cartilage tissue are not visible on an x-ray.
Ultrasound examination, as well as computed tomography, reveals abnormalities in the soft tissues of the joints and determines the amount of fluid accumulated during the development of synovitis.
How is knee arthrosis treated?
Arthrosis of the knee is treated by specialists, such as rheumatologist or orthopedist. In an early stage, the disease in most cases is curable without surgery, but the treatment must necessarily be comprehensive and qualified. In the second and third stages, it is not possible to return the joint to its previous shape without surgery, it is only possible to improve the condition of the periarticular tissues.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are widely used to reduce inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis of the knee joint. After reducing the painful syndrome, the patient can be prescribed massages, therapeutic exercises, physiotherapy procedures.
For the treatment of gonarthrosis, drugs that are part of the group of chondroprotectors and provide restoration of cartilage tissues are also used. Such preparations also help to maintain cartilage elasticity, saturating your tissue with moisture. In the first and second stages, chondroprotectors have a gradual effect, the treatment is quite long and can last up to a year or a year and a half. Taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate together has a greater effect. In the third stage, these drugs are no longer able to have a positive effect.
A good effect in the treatment of osteoarthritis is the drugs that serve to expand blood vessels. They are able to improve blood circulation in the joint and relieve spasm in small vessels, which helps to restore the affected joint. It is recommended to combine the use of such drugs with the use of chondroprotectors. To relieve painful muscle spasm, muscle relaxants can be prescribed to the patient. These drugs are used only in combination with chondroprotectors and joint traction. A Dimexide compress also has a positive effect on the treatment of osteoarthritis, which reduces inflammation and relieves pain, especially when there is fluid accumulation. To prepare this compress, you must mix a tablespoon of boiled water with a spoon of Dimexide. Then, moisten a medical dressing in the resulting solution, place the affected joint and cover with a plastic bag and a diaper on top. The duration of the procedure is twenty to sixty minutes, once a day, at most, for two to three weeks.
All drugs are used in the absence of contraindications, strictly according to the doctor's prescription. Arthrosis of the knee joint requires medication and physical therapy and therapeutic exercises.