Osteoarthritis of the knee: symptoms and treatment

Osteoarthritis of the knee, or knee osteoarthritis, is a chronic and progressively progressive disease that often results in disability. At present, knee osteoarthritis occupies one of the first positions in terms of frequency of occurrence among all osteoarthritis. Most often, this pathological process is encountered by middle-aged and elderly people, mainly female representatives.

General information and classification

Osteoarthritis of the knee joint is a disease characterized by progressive degenerative-dystrophic lesions of the cartilage tissue, and then other structures in the area of the knee joint. As we have already said, it is the cartilage that mainly changes in this disease. However, the pathological changes then spread to the synovial membrane, joint capsule, adjacent bones and ligaments.

As statistics show, osteoarthritis of the knee joint occurs in about 13% of people over the age of 45. About 15% of people who have suffered an injury to the knee joint go on to face this disease. More than 60% of patients indicate a decrease in the quality of life due to the presence of this pathology. The disability rate ranges from 10 to 21 percent.

In 2011, a team of scientists analyzed the treatment of 300 outpatients with osteoarthritis of the knee. At the same time, it was found that among people seeking medical care, women predominate 2, 3 times. The average age of the patients was 51 years. It was possible to identify a concomitant pathology in 27. 3% of patients. The men who applied for the first time had a shorter duration of illness and a lower severity of osteoarthritis than the representative women.

As we have already said, osteoarthritis of the knee joint, which has not been treated, very often leads to disability of a sick person. This is due to the fact that in the later stages of the disease the joint is deformed, thereby limiting its motor activity. It becomes difficult for the patient to move, he is forced to use auxiliary items, for example, crutches.

Osteoarthritis of the knee joint is divided into two forms: primary and secondary. The primary form develops when changes in the cartilage tissue of the joint have not been preceded by trauma. According to statistics, it represents about 38 percent. The secondary form takes place if there is a history of trauma, inflammatory pathologies, etc.

In addition, there are three degrees of severity of such a pathological process. At the first degree, clinical manifestations have a minimum degree of severity, there are no deformities. The second degree is characterized by an increase in symptoms, moderate limitation of movement of the joint. In the third degree, a noticeable deformation of the joint is determined.

Reasons for the development of osteoarthritis of the knee joint

Osteoarthritis of the knee

The main cause of osteoarthritis of the knee joint is injury. Most often, the formation of pathological changes in the joint takes from three to five years from the moment of injury, but sometimes an earlier development of osteoarthritis is also observed. Another common cause is increased stress on the joint. People who overload the knee joint when playing sports are overweight.

The risk of developing osteoarthritis with previous arthritis, metabolic disorders and genetic predisposition increases dramatically.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee joint

The symptoms of this disease gradually increase. At first, a person pays attention to mild joint pain, which increases during physical exertion. A characteristic clinical sign is the appearance of pain during the first movements after a long sitting position.

Sometimes in the area of the joint, a slight swelling is determined, but more often there is no external sign of the disease.

Osteoarthritis of the knee joint, which is not treated, continues to progress. With the second degree, the pain becomes more intense, appears even with little physical exertion. The pain syndrome goes away with rest, but when the movements start, it comes back again. In the future, the range of motion of the joint is limited, sometimes a sharp tightening is noted.

In the third degree, the pain becomes almost constant, sometimes even at night. A sick person cannot fully bend or straighten his leg, an external deformation of the joint is found. The patient's gait becomes unstable; in severe cases, it can only move with support.

Principles for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis

Examination by a doctor to diagnose osteoarthritis of the knee joint

Usually, osteoarthritis of the knee joint does not pose any difficulty in terms of diagnosis. The examination plan includes an external examination and an x-ray examination. At present, x-rays are the main method of diagnosing this disease. However, it should be noted that at the initial stage, radiological signs may be absent, but this does not exclude the diagnosis. If a more detailed study is needed, in addition to x-ray, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging is used.

Osteoarthritis of the knee: treatment and prevention

With degenerative-dystrophic lesions of the joint, treatment can be both conservative and surgical. It should be noted that the effectiveness of treatment will directly depend on when it was started. Among the drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and chondroprotectors are used. Sometimes it becomes necessary to administer an intra-articular administration of glucocorticosteroids. The treatment plan is supplemented with physiotherapy and therapeutic exercises.

However, with advanced osteoarthritis of the knee joint, treatment is carried out using surgical methods. Most often, joint arthroplasty is used, followed by rehabilitation measures.

In 2013, scientists published an article that provided data on the study of the quality of life of patients undergoing knee replacement surgery compared to the quality of life of patients receiving conservative treatment for knee osteoarthritis. Surveys were carried out, during which it turned out that after three months after stents, the quality of life of people was higher than with only conservative treatment.

The main method of prevention is to avoid injury and excessive physical strain on the knee joint.