Orthopaedy

Osteoarthritis of the knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a progressive destruction of cartilage of knee-joint. Usually the articular surfaces of bones (places of articulation of bones) are covered by the layers of cartilage, which promote the normal mutual sliding of the articular surfaces of bones. At osteoarthritis of the knee this cartilaginous layer is worn away, thinned and, eventually, bones begin to rub against each other. A patient has pains in the knees. The slight swelling, stiffness or constraint of knee-joint is possible. Women suffer from this disease is about three times more often than men. However, in patients younger than 50 years, osteoarthritis of the knee is very rare.

Symptoms

  • At first, pain in a knee appears only after the considerable loading on a knee-joint, after hurts constantly.
  • Swelling of the knee.
  • Stiffness.
  • Instability at standing.
  • Violation of gait.

Causes

The most widespread form of osteoarthritis of the knee is so-called primary osteoarthritis of the knee which is characterized by the deterioration of the articular surfaces; it is peculiar for to the people, suffering from obesity. Secondary osteoarthritis is often a consequence of previously deferred severe injuries and illnesses (for example, breaks of bones, infections or inflammations of knee-joint, damage of the intervertebral discs or developmental disorders). Osteoarthritis of the knee may be accompanied by inflammation of the synovial membrane.

Treatment

At an early stage the disease is oligosymptomatic and does not need the special treatment. It is enough to perform medical gymnastics, directed on strengthening and maintainance of mobility of knee-joint. If symptoms, that are peculiar for the disease, often repeat or carry permanent character, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is needed. Operative interference is also possible. During an operation the damaged cartilage is replaced by a plastic or metal prosthesis.

With the purpose of prophylaxis it is recommended to increase the physical activity, to lose excess weight.

If pains in a knee last more than month, it is necessary to appeal to the doctor.

On a radiograph a doctor will define, what part of cartilage of knee-joint has already been erased. However, at the beginning of the disease symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee joint on x-ray are almost invisible. Therefore, knee arthroscopy is done to the patient. During this research a thin probe is inserted into the knee-joint, it enables to examine a knee-joint. Depending on the stage of the disease the doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory drugs, recommends exercise or operation.

Course of the disease

A disease is begun with appearance of pain in a joint after the considerable loading on it, and then the pain becomes permanent. A knee-joint can swell up, at feeling it seems hard. Bending of leg in a knee is difficult, there is feeling of instability at walking. Destruction of cartilage contributes to narrowing of the joint space, proliferation of bone, quite often – formation of bone excrescences. Osteoarthritis of the knee is incurable.

Patient, suffering from this disease, has great pains, but there is no danger to his life.

Prevention

There are no prophylactic measures for osteoarthritis of the knee. Obesity contributes to the additional load on the bones and joints, so the symptoms are more expressive.