Knee arthrosis, or gonarthrosis, mainly affects women, usually after the age of forty. At an earlier age, such a pathology can develop as a result of injury or professional sports. A particularly severe course of the disease is observed in people who are overweight or suffer from varicose veins of the lower extremities.
The onset of the disease is characterized by the appearance of moderate pain in the knee during movement, especially when walking on stairs. Also, pain can occur if a person stands for a very long time or gets to his feet after a long stay in a sitting position. At rest, the pain usually subsides. Sharp and intense pain in arthrosis of the knee joint does not occur spontaneously, usually it is preceded by long-term discomfort when walking, physical activity. It is the gradually increasing pain that is one of the main signs of gonarthrosis.
Stages of the disease
At the initial stage of development of gonarthrosis, the bones in the knee do not change their shape, only swelling of the joint can occur, usually associated with the accumulation of fluid in the knee. If its amount exceeds the permissible level, edema develops, affecting the back of the leg. In this case, you can relieve puffiness with the help of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The next stage of knee arthrosis is characterized by a significant increase in pain intensity. The pain makes itself felt even after a slight load, a crunch appears in the knee joint, which intensifies if the disease progresses. The patient bends the leg with difficulty, there is severe pain, up to the complete impossibility of bending it at the knee. Also at the second stage of the disease, the joint begins to change its shape, which becomes quite noticeable on palpation - the expansion and engorgement of the articular bones is felt. Synovitis manifests itself much more strongly at this stage - the appearance of puffiness as a result of the accumulation of fluid.
The third stage of the disease is characterized by the appearance of intense pain that occurs even at rest. The patient is looking for a suitable position for a long time, in which the pain will be weaker. With impaired blood circulation, pain can bother a person even during sleep, causing an aching feeling in the joint. The mobility of the joint is minimized, the person is often unable to keep the leg in a straight position and is forced to bend it when walking. With a significant deformation of the bones, the gait becomes waddling, a change in the shape of the lower extremities becomes noticeable.
How to recognize arthrosis of the knee joint?
The patient is initially referred for a blood test, followed by an x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography.
In some cases, ultrasound or arthroscopy (examination of the joint with a special device through a small incision) may be prescribed.
During the X-ray examination, the stage of development of the disease is determined, the picture shows changes in the joint and bones, as well as the distance between the bones. At an early stage of the disease, changes in the cartilage tissue are not visible on an x-ray.
Ultrasound examination, as well as computed tomography, allows to reveal abnormalities in soft articular tissues and to determine the amount of accumulated fluid during the development of synovitis.
How is knee arthrosis treated?
Arthrosis of the knee is treated by specialists such as a rheumatologist or an orthopedist. At 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 impossible to return the joint to its previous shape without surgery, it is only possible to improve the condition of the periarticular tissues.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are widely used to reduce inflammation and pain in arthrosis of the knee joint. After reducing the pain syndrome, the patient can be prescribed massage, therapeutic exercises, physiotherapy procedures.
For the treatment of gonarthrosis, drugs are also used that are part of the group of chondroprotectors and provide the restoration of cartilage tissues. Such preparations also help to maintain the elasticity of the cartilage, saturation of its tissue with moisture. At the first and second stages, chondroprotectors have a gradual effect, the treatment is quite long and can even last a year or a year and a half. Taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate together has a greater effect. At the third stage, such drugs are no longer able to have a positive effect.
A good effect in the treatment of arthrosis has 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 taking such drugs with the use of chondroprotectors. In order to relieve painful muscle spasm, muscle relaxants may be prescribed to the patient. Such drugs are used only in combination with chondroprotectors and joint traction. A compress of Dimexide also has a positive effect in the treatment of arthrosis, which reduces inflammation and relieves pain, especially when fluid accumulates. To prepare such a compress, you should mix one tablespoon of boiled water with a tablespoon of Dimexide. Then moisten a medical bandage in the resulting solution, then put on the affected joint and cover with a plastic bag and a diaper on top. The duration of the procedure is from twenty to sixty minutes, once a day, no more, for two to three weeks.
All medications are used in the absence of contraindications, strictly according to the doctor's prescription. Arthrosis of the knee joint requires medication and physiotherapy and therapeutic exercises.