Osteoarthritis is the most common of all diseases of the musculoskeletal system. The knees are especially vulnerable to him, as they carry most of the load. Let's take a closer look at what is osteoarthritis of the knee and how to deal with this disease.
Characteristics of the disease
Osteoarthritis of the knee joints is a pathology associated with the development of degenerative-dystrophic processes in the cartilage tissue of these joints. As the disease progresses, the disease affects not only the cartilage itself, but also other tissues, including ligaments and periarticular muscles, and over time, processes can develop that contribute to bone destruction.
With age, the body experiences difficulties leading to tissue malnutrition and accelerated wear. Under the influence of mechanical, biochemical and other factors, cartilage tissue gradually begins to deteriorate, which further develops into osteoarthritis of the right knee joint or left joint.
With age, the frequency of diagnosis of this pathology increases. Women are particularly prone to developing gonarthrosis due to the characteristics of their body and hormonal changes.
Also at risk are athletes and people whose work involves lifting weights and constantly loading their legs.
In general, the following risk groups can be distinguished:
- elderly people;
- people with knee injuries;
- patients who underwent knee surgery;
- , associated with hard physical labor or the need to be constantly on your feet;
- patients with endocrine diseases;
- people with hormonal disorders;
- leading an unhealthy lifestyle;
- with congenital pathologies of the musculoskeletal system.
When you enter a risk group, you should regularly monitor the condition of your joints, as well as take preventive measures.
Reasons for development
If we talk about the specific causes of dystrophic processes in cartilage tissue, in many ways they are related to everyday life. Existing health problems also play a role.
The main causes of gonarthrosis are:
- Injuries. Any damage to the knee and adjacent tissues, ie bruises, sprains, tears and sprains, cracks, fractures and more. Consequences may appear some time after the wound has healed completely.
- Congenital disorders. This includes, for example, joint instability, curvature and other developmental disorders and functions related to the structural characteristics of the human skeleton.
- Age changes. Gradually, the cartilage tissue wears out and the calcium is washed away from the bones. The older a person is, the more pronounced these processes are.
- Obesity. Excess weight slows down metabolic processes and contributes to the exertion of excessive stress on the limbs. Obese people almost always have leg problems.
- Endocrine diseases.Unhealthy endocrine system leads to hormonal imbalances and metabolic disorders.
- Surgical interventions. Surgical manipulations on the meniscus have a particularly strong effect. When removed, gonarthrosis develops in 90% of cases.
- Stress. Strong emotional experiences negatively affect the condition of the whole organism, including the elements of the musculoskeletal system.
- Tissue malnutrition. Most often, these processes are associated with impaired blood circulation, because it is through the vessels in the tissue that all the necessary nutrients are delivered.
- Heavy loads.Lifting and carrying weights, improper running and jumping, violation of exercise technique, prolonged standing - all this is an excessive load on a person's legs.
If you do not take measures to prevent the impact of these causes, the cost of such careless treatment of your health will be represented by many problems with the musculoskeletal system and other body systems.
Symptoms of manifestation
Initially, the disease is asymptomatic or anxiety occurs only occasionally. Mostly the knees start to hurt after a long time in one position or intense day of work. Because such symptoms are not annoying and completely disappear after a break, one does not immediately realize that he has serious health problems.
Gradually the discomfort increases, severe pain appears. They are sick by nature, but when they move, they can be sharp and sharp. As the disease progresses, the discomfort increases.
Other symptoms of gonarthrosis are:
- Deterioration of the mobility of the knee;
- the appearance of a sound crisis when moving;
- swelling and hyperemia of the tissues;
- limb curvature.
It is the desire to relieve pain that is most often the main stimulus for referring a person to the clinic. The sooner you do this, the more chances you have to stop the pathological process. Otherwise, the changes will become irreversible and it will not be possible to solve the problem through conservative methods.
In some cases there is a fever. This phenomenon is rare, shows an intense inflammatory process. It may be caused by an infection, for example, if you have recently suffered a leg injury.
Types of pathology
In medical practice, the disease has a special classification.
There are the following types of osteoarthritis of the knee:
- Left or right. It is located on one side only, ie it affects either the left or the right knee. Most often this situation occurs after a limb injury.
- Bilateral. At the same time, pathological processes develop in both legs. The symmetrical development of the disease is typical for most cases, as the internal processes in the human body have a huge impact.
- Basic. It develops as a separate disease. Provoking factors are improper lifestyle, stress, age-related changes and more.
- Secondary. Gonarthrosis becomes a consequence of another disease of the musculoskeletal system and systems closely related to it. Traumatic injuries to the limbs are also included in this category.
It is also worth distinguishing between periarthrosis. This disease affects the muscles and ligaments, thanks to which the joint is set in motion.
Another important category is knee hypearthrosis. This is the name of the progressive degenerative processes in cartilage. In the last stages there is a pronounced deforming gonarthrosis. It is worth talking about the stages of development of the pathology in more detail.
Stages of progression
There are four main stages of knee osteoarthritis. Each of them is characterized by a more pronounced manifestation of the disease and the emergence of new negative processes.
- Stage 1. Sometimes discomfort occurs, but after resting and working the legs, it disappears. There are still no changes in the tissue structure, noticeable for diagnosis, but the nutrition of the cartilage is already disturbed, which gradually provokes the progression of the pathology.
- Stage 2. The pain becomes annoying, the cartilage becomes significantly thinner, which leads to narrowing of the joint space. A characteristic crisis appears, the movements are also accompanied by unpleasant sensations.
- 3rd - 4th stage. The X-ray clearly shows the changes that have occurred in the joint. The cartilage tissue is worn out, the bone begins to deform at the sites of friction, some areas are overgrown with osteophytes and there are deposits of salt. All this blocks the movement of the legs and provokes severe constant pain.
If the first degree of gonarthrosis is quite possible to eliminate with gentle methods and to fully restore the health of the limbs, the third - fourth phase are irreversible and practically not subject to conservative treatment. That is why it is important to seek medical help as early as possible.
Consequences and possible complications
As regards the consequences of gonarthrosis, there are initially no specific risks to human health if appropriate measures are taken in a timely manner. Of course, inflammation of the knee causes some discomfort, but the symptoms and the dystrophic process itself can still be eliminated.
The more the patient ignores the problem, the more neglected he becomes. In the second stage, the cartilage begins to deteriorate and is slightly recoverable. Severe pain disrupts a person's normal lifestyle, exerts psychological pressure.
The main consequences of progressive gonarthrosis are:
- constant pain;
- blockage of leg mobility;
- the formation of bone-salt growths;
- complete destruction of hyaline cartilage;
- spread of the pathological process in other areas;
- affecting the muscular system;
The main question: is it possible to walk with osteoarthritis of the knee? Exercise contributes to the healing of the whole organism, but this rule works only if the disease is detected early.
In the later stages, movement can only worsen the destructive process, which is why the patient is advised to rest in bed and wear special orthoses. With deformity and blockage of the mobility of the legs, walking is impaired, ie a person becomes disabled. This is the main risk in the development of gonarthrosis.
To prevent such complications and not become disabled, you should seek help immediately. An orthopedic surgeon may advise treatment for gonarthrosis.The success of further treatment largely depends on the level of detail of the diagnosis and therefore the prescriptions of a specialist regarding the need to undergo certain examination procedures should not be ignored.
The overall diagnosis of osteoarthritis may include the following methods:
- Laboratory blood tests. It is necessary to identify deviations from the norm in terms of basic indicators. The presence of disorders indicates an inflammatory process or other problems that may directly or indirectly indicate joint disease. A rheumatic test can be taken separately if necessary. It is also important to assess the level of glucose in the blood, as its increase may indicate problems with the endocrine system, which also affects the condition of the musculoskeletal system and metabolic processes in the body.
- Radiography. This is a mandatory procedure that allows you to assess the condition of the affected area. The image shows bone areas. The degree of cartilage wear is assessed by the size of the joint space, the position of the individual articulatory elements, the presence of lateral formations and other indicators.
- ultrasound. Ultrasound waves allow a more detailed examination of the condition of the soft tissues themselves, including cartilage. Ultrasound detects inflammatory processes, detects solid inclusions, as well as tumors.
- NMR. Magnetic resonance imaging is the best method for examining the condition of the joints. The image clearly shows all the elements of the articulation and the adjacent soft tissues, as well as the blood vessels. The image contains a layer-by-layer structure, and the process itself is dynamic, so that the doctor can see everything he needs to make a diagnosis. If MRI is contraindicated, CT may be used as an alternative.
- Arthroscopy. A more detailed examination of the knee is possible by inserting an arthroscope into its cavity. The procedure is less traumatic, so it can be performed without fear for your health. The camera clearly demonstrates the condition of cartilage and other tissues.
To get rid of gonarthrosis and its consequences, it is necessary to properly approach the solution of this problem. Only the attending physician will be able to choose the most effective remedy in each case.
A variety of medicines are most often used, as well as folk methods. Some of the techniques overlap closely, such as different compresses.
If done correctly, it will be possible to significantly reduce the symptoms of the disease and restore the health of the legs to some extent. In no case should you hesitate with the treatment, otherwise it will not be possible to do without drastic measures.
The first thing to start treatment with is drug therapy. It can be divided into several areas, depending on the goals you plan to achieve:
- Pain relief. In osteoarthritis, the need to relieve pain makes most patients seek the help of a specialist for a list of medications. In case of severe discomfort, analgesics are required, for example injections are given in the third stage of gonarthrosis.
- Eliminates inflammation. Because it is possible to relieve pain in osteoarthritis of the knee by stopping the inflammatory process, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. If the situation is ignored, short courses of glucocorticoids may be prescribed to enhance the effect.
- Cartilage repair. It is necessary to stimulate the regeneration of hyaline cartilage and improve its nutrition, as well as to prevent future destruction. Different groups of chondroprotectors are used for this. If we consider the question of whether the drug helps with osteoarthritis of the knee, pay attention to the composition of the drug. The combination of important ingredients is one of the most effective products in this category.
- Improved tissue nutrition. To speed up the recovery process and strengthen the joint, various drugs and supplements are prescribed to improve metabolism, stimulate blood circulation and saturate the cells with vitamins and minerals.
Only the attending physician has the right to prescribe and correct drug therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. Independent use of drugs is undesirable, only the use of vitamin supplements and some chondroprotectors is allowed.
Diet and lifestyle
An important step in the treatment process is changing your lifestyle, especially your eating habits. Much depends on the severity of the disease, for example, cycling at the beginning of development can be beneficial and stimulate the recovery process.
At the same time, when problems with flexion extension movements occur, such a load can only worsen the patient's condition and worsen the destructive processes.
In general, activity is encouraged, as movement contributes to the treatment of many diseases of the musculoskeletal system. At the same time, it is extremely important to observe the rest regime, not to overload the legs and to avoid sudden movements.
In particular, the question is whether it is possible to run with osteoarthritis of the knee. It is better to replace this type of physical activity with brisk walking.
If we talk about nutrition, the contraindications for gonarthrosis are related to alcohol and unhealthy food. It is especially important to exclude fatty and salty foods.
The diet should be as close as possible to a healthy one, ie it should include vegetables and fruits, whole grains, milk and cheese, lean meat and fish. Products that help restore hyaline cartilage are very useful: seafood, offal, jelly, apples, seaweed and more.
Physiotherapy and other procedures
Physiotherapy is a mandatory component of treatment. Also, modern medicine actively uses various manual and non-traditional methods to affect the body. It is advisable to pay attention to such procedures.
- Magnetotherapy. This is one of the techniques of physiotherapy. The magnetic effect stimulates the recovery process, enhances the effect of drugs. Alternatively, electrophonophoresis can be used.
- Massage. Different types of manual interventions should be performed by a qualified professional based on the results of the diagnosis and the instructions of the treating physician. Massage stimulates metabolic processes in the tissues, improves the mobility of the legs, relieves discomfort.
- Hirudotherapy. This is a treatment with leeches. Leeches are known for their safe purification of the blood. They bite the patient's skin, substances that prevent blood clotting, come with saliva. Minor bleeding of this kind helps to eliminate the inflammatory process, improve tissue nutrition and has a general health effect on the body.
- Acupuncture. This is one of the methods of reflexology, the essence of which is to affect the active points located not only in the diseased area, but also in the whole body. The doctor inserts special needles into the skin at exactly these points, which should be used to solve the problem of gonarthrosis.
If we take a closer look at the treatment with the help of physical exercises, first of all, it should be noted that the norms of permissible loads are established by a specialist. It is best to attend group exercises. Sport for osteoarthritis of the knee is included in the mandatory program, including during rehabilitation after surgery.
Let's highlight the main guidelines used for gonarthrosis:
- Swimming pool. Swimming relieves stress and tension from the legs and helps the smooth development of the problem area. In particular, water aerobics is useful in osteoarthritis of the knee, especially for overweight people and elderly patients.
- Hiking. There is no doubt about whether walking is useful in gonarthrosis, but at the same time walks should be short and regular. But running is not recommended as a method of treatment.
- Training with simulators. These can be special training blocks or, for example, an exercise bike, if you have no contraindications. They are useful for strengthening the muscular and tendon apparatus.
- Therapeutic gymnastics. Orthopedic doctors and occupational therapists develop special sets of exercises that help to carefully train all joint groups and restore their health.
Physical activity in osteoarthritis of the knee joint should be regular and strictly dosed. If you overload your legs or skip classes, there will be no beneficial effect. It is also important to choose the right exercises for your specific situation. Check this point in advance with the curator, for example, whether it is possible to squat with osteoarthritis in your case.
Also the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee at home is closely related to the use of prescriptions of traditional medicine. It is worth remembering that before using this or that medicine, prepared independently, you should make sure that there are no allergies and other contraindications, as well as consult your doctor.
Otherwise, the effect may be reversed or the effect of home remedies may increase the effect of pharmaceutical drugs. However, traditional methods are still in demand, as their cost is much lower than most purchased drugs.
The following drugs are most commonly used for gonarthrosis:
- Herbal teas. Infusions and decoctions of bay leaves, chamomile, St. John's wort, yarrow and other medicinal plants are actively used for both external and internal use. They are able to relieve inflammation, soothe pain, remove salts, as well as nourish the body with vitamins and other nutrients.
- Beekeeping products. Propolis, perga, bee plague, wax and honey have a versatile healing effect. That is why the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint with honey is such a popular direction. However, it should be borne in mind that bee products can cause severe allergies, so first make sure that they are safe to use.
- Alcoholic tinctures. It is an excellent tool for warming and stimulating blood flow, relieving inflammation and improving the mobility of the legs. White lilac is especially useful for the joints, which should be cleaned of greenery and filled with vodka for two weeks. In addition, the infusion is used to rub the affected area.
- Fresh plants. You can also use raw gifts of nature. For example, a leaf of burdock or white cabbage should be lightly kneaded and then tied to the knee for at least 10 hours. You can use ready-made compresses, for example, to add medical bile, unrefined sunflower oil, honey and more.
- Animal fats. They are added to home-made creams. To create an optimal consistency, the fat should be mixed with beeswax, herbal decoctions and other components can be added.
Surgical intervention and rehabilitation
Most patients are concerned about the question: is osteoarthritis of the knee joint treatable if it has already progressed to stage 2 - 3? Unfortunately, it will not be possible to restore the health of the cartilage mucosa, but there is still a way out of the situation.
If you have advanced osteoarthritis of the knee, treatment options are divided into surgical and conservative auxiliary techniques. If the cartilage is completely worn out, only by performing surgery can the functions of the damaged limb be restored.
The best option is to use endoprostheses. In this case, the damaged elements of the joint are partially or completely removed and special prostheses are installed in their place with the help of bolts and surgical cement. Over time, they will become overgrown with bone tissue and will fully absorb all the necessary loads.
As it is not always possible to treat osteoarthritis of the knee joints in this way, the method of arthrodesis is used as an alternative to reduce pain and prevent further deformity of the limb.
If in the first case the mobility of the leg is maximally restored, in arthrodesis the opposite effect appears - the limb is fixed in a certain position, and after the incision of the bone the elements are merged. In this way, traffic will only be accessible in one direction.
To prevent the development of the disease, osteoarthritis of the knee joint must be prevented.
To do this, follow these instructions:
- avoid injury;
- don't overload your knees;
- be less nervous;
- lead an active lifestyle;
- give up bad habits;
- eat right;
- keep track of your weight;
- Treat other diseases in a timely manner.
At the first concern, visit your doctor to start fighting the disease in time.