Arthrosis (gonarthrosis) refers to age-related ailments that occur mainly in patients older than 45 years. Such a disease destroys the cartilaginous surface of the head of the bone entering the knee joint. The degenerative process helps to reduce the motor activity of the lower limb in the knee, and subsequently the ability to fully move completely disappears.
This development of the disease is primarily associated with the structure of the knee joint. Cartilage is a fibrous substance necessary for gliding articular surfaces in the knee joint. Elastic and moisture-retaining cartilage plays the role of a kind of shock absorber, allowing you to dampen shocks and shocks that occur at the time of movement.
Depending on the causes of arthrosis of the knee joint, an inflammatory process appears in which the cartilage becomes thinner, cloudy and exfoliates. The resulting cracks lead to its complete destruction and exposure of the femur. Further, sclerotic seals with tenon-shaped protrusions (osteophytes) are formed on the bone, which, in the end, cause joint deformation.
Why arthrosis occurs
Arthrosis of the knee joint has different symptoms and they indicate the onset of trophic changes in the joint tissue. They can be associated with both the age factor and previous injuries.
Of the many circumstances that provoke the disease, the main causes of arthrosis of the knee joint can be distinguished:
- inflammatory processes in the joint; Patellofemoral arthrosis of the knee joint is caused by malnutrition of the cartilage or after the occurrence of arthritis and synovitis. Such diseases contribute to a decrease in synovial fluid in the joint capsule, structural changes in cartilage, and the appearance of edema in the affected area;
- injuries of cartilage, synovial bag and patella. Post-traumatic arthrosis of the knee is not uncommon in professional athletes. Forceful action occurs with increased static (standing position) or dynamic loads – the moment of impact on the ball, repulsion and landing when jumping. Also, the progression of arthrosis can begin after a fall from a height, automobile accidents, rupture of the musculo-ligamentous apparatus;
- metabolic disease. Pathologies of this type most often become the causes of the patient’s weight increase, which causes the accelerated development of arthritic processes in the knee joint and lead to the early wear of its elements;
- violation in the structure of connective tissue and bone skeleton. Birth defects, dysplasia reduce the elasticity of the cartilage tissue and articular capsule, which ultimately leads to a change in the position of the heads of the bones, as well as rigidity and looseness of the compound.
The development of arthrosis
In some cases, the signs of arthrosis of the knee joint are very easy to confuse with another disease or mistaken for various injuries in the musculoskeletal system.
In order not to miss the beginning of the development of degenerative processes in the knee, it is worthwhile to understand all the stages of this disease. Experts distinguish 4 main forms of arthrosis.
Osteoarthritis of the knee joint of the 1st degree has no vivid symptoms, but structural changes are already beginning in the cartilage tissue. The patient’s physical activity or prolonged walking can cause dull aching pain in the legs. Appeared small swelling most often go away on their own and do not require additional treatment.
At this stage, during diagnosis, you can notice a decrease in the height and elastic properties of the cartilage pad, as well as softening of its fibers. This restriction of mobility is usually associated with a narrowing of the joint space. This condition in the knee joint is completely reversible provided that treatment is started on time. And the subsequent prevention of the disease will prevent relapse.
More visible signs at this stage are arthrosis of the knee joint of the 2nd degree. Symptoms of the disease are manifested by a crunch in the knee, morning stiffness, disappearing after small warm-up movements. The pains become stronger and longer, which indicates further destruction of the cartilage tissue.
In the second stage, the cartilaginous plates crack and you can notice their protrusion in the zone of least pressure. In places of greatest friction, osteophytes begin to form on the articular heads – cartilage tissue is replaced with a bone structure.
After the occurrence of osteophytes in the knee joint, the range of motion decreases, which, in the end, leads to complete blockade of the connection. As for the joint space, its size becomes even smaller. Therefore, the characteristic crunch and clicks during movement that occur when osteophytes come into contact with each other are more clearly audible.
Third and fourth stages
Marginal osteophytes at this stage continue to grow, and the articular lumen is narrowed. The cartilaginous tissue is even more thinned and cracked, which causes pain even at rest. Osteoarthritis of the knee joint of the 3rd degree begins to change the patient’s gait. Walking around is caused by unbearable pain in the knee joint.
Larger osteophytes and cysts lead to complete blockage of the movement of the knee joint in a certain plane. The flattening of some areas and the growth of others on the surface of the bone is caused by constant pressure on them. Processes of this kind gradually change the axis of the lower leg and femur and completely deform the joint.
The fourth stage is characterized by complete destruction of the cartilaginous tissue, exposure of the surface of the bone heads and complete blockage of joint movement in all directions. At this stage, the knee joint completely loses its functional purpose.
As the practice of treatment shows, getting rid of the disease is possible only at the initial stage, provided that the causes of its provocation are identified. As for the more complex forms of arthrosis, drug treatment and prevention will only help to effectively restrain the destruction of the joint.
The treatment of the disease should be comprehensive and pursue the following goals:
- removal of pain;
- improving the flow of essential nutrients to the damaged area;
- normalization of blood circulation in the knee joint;
- gradual return of the usual range of motion of the lower limb;
The following drugs may be prescribed to the patient:
- Chondoprotectors. With such drugs, treatment continues for a long period, but the result is completely restored damaged tissue;
- NSAIDs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce pain and inflammation;
- Corticosteroid hormones.
Arthrosis is also quite effectively treated with dimexide, medical bile and bischofite. They have a warming effect, improve the flowing properties of blood and contribute to an increase in blood microcirculation in the affected area.
To restore the cartilage tissue and strengthen the ligamentous apparatus, the patient is prescribed various physiotherapy, mud baths, massage sessions, exercise therapy and kinesitherapy. Treatment of the later stages involves more serious methods: arthroscopy, osteotomy, or endoprosthetics.
An important role in the restoration of the knee joint, as well as in preventing the occurrence of the disease, is played by the prevention of knee arthrosis. Experts recommend avoiding the appearance of excess weight and reduce the load on the knee joints.
Also, the prevention of arthrosis involves compliance with certain rules in the diet. Each meal should contain a sufficient amount of calories, vitamins, trace elements and be balanced regarding fats, proteins and carbohydrates.