Knee arthritis / osteoarthritis
Knee arthritis / knee osteoarthritis
Knee arthritis or knee osteoarthritis names damage of the cartilage of the knee. It often begins with a roughness of the cartilage and ranges from tears through to cartilage decrease. As knee osteoarthritis progresses, cartilage increasingly loses its function as a buffer between the bones causing stiffness of the knee and finally loss of the knee joint.
Symptoms knee arthritis / knee osteoarthritis
Knee arthritis does not necessarily entail a severe knee condition. If osteoarthritis of the knee progresses, various symptoms can occur. Arthritis can cause pain in the knee, grinding sounds as well as a restricted range of motion. Since arthritis increases gradually, the range of motion may be reduced extremely so that the knee joint gets stiff. The walking distance may be also reduced due to the symptoms. At a progressive state, pain can also emerge at rest.
Symptoms of knee arthritis in short:
- pain in the knee from dull to stinging, subject to strain but also finally at rest
- grinding sounds
- restricted range of motion of the knee
- stiffness of knee the joint
- reduced walking distance
Causes knee arthritis / knee osteoarthritis
The causes of knee arthritis can greatly differ and are often subject to age. If younger persons suffer from knee osteoarthritis, often an accident has caused, for example, a direct damage of the cartilage but also of adjacent structures. If the damage is not or only treated insufficiently, the condition may worsen due to relieve posture or much strain. Because this process is a reinforcing process, knee arthritis can gradually progress.
The causes of the patients suffering from osteoarthritis in their second half of life are partially the same: accidents with a direct damage of the cartilage but also of adjacent structures, relieve posture or much strain, very knee-intensive sports activities (e.g., football, soccer) or jobs involving kneeling (e.g., gardener, tiler) may cause knee arthritis. Factors like overweight or malposition of the legs like bowlegs or knock-knees play a role.
In the old age, knee osteoarthritis can emerge as a result of aging. The knee joints are strained the whole life, and cartilage wears and tears as well as other structures of the knee. Since elderly people do also often suffer from diabetes, rheumatism or gout, the emergence of arthritis is more likely. Knee arthritis as well as the other diseases may also lead to a lack of motion, which reinforces arthritis and the other diseases.
Besides age-related factors, also genes have an effect on knee osteoarthritis, for example, congenital soft or weak tendons, ligaments, bones or cartilage or deformities of the knee.
Diagnostics knee arthritis / knee osteoarthritis
The best method to differentiate between different injuries is MRI. MRI enables us to visualize very different structures during one examination like muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bones. If it is necessary, we do also apply a well-tolerated contrast agent to improve the visibility of certain structures.
In some cases, it may be necessary to perform a knee arthroscopy, during which an endoscope is inserted through small incisions to visualize the different structures of the knee enlarged. If indicated, a subsequent arthroscopic surgery is possible directly after the examination.
All examinations can be carried out at Beta Klinik. Read more about our diagnostics
Therapy knee arthritis / knee osteoarthritis
Conservative (non-surgical) treatment
At an early stage of knee arthritis, physiotherapy (manual therapy, osteopathy) combined with intra-articular injections, e.g., hyaluronic acid, can lessen the symptoms and improve the joint function for a longer period of time. Intra-articular injections are targeted, CT-guided injections, carried out under sterile conditions in order to have optimal results. We can offer several modern hyaluronic acid compounds as single shot treatment, which lasts for about one year.
Those treatment options cannot heal knee arthritis but postpone the knee surgery appointment.
In case of minor defects, an arthroscopic, minimally invasive surgery can take place that uses micro-fracturing (standardized bone drilling in order to improve blood circulation) and the administration of hyaluronic acid in order to trigger cartilage development.
During minimally invasive knee arthroscopy, an endoscope is inserted through small skin incisions. With the help of the endoscope, the surgeon is able to see the damaged knee structures enlarged at a monitor. In addition to that, surgeons are also able to operate through the endoscope, and, thus, to stitch, repair, stabilize and relocate damaged tissue. The cartilage can be smoothed, and free cartilage particles can be removed.
Knee replacement surgery
Because knee arthritis often affects a large surface of the joint, cartilage reconstruction is not very promising, and, thus, knee replacement surgery becomes necessary.
There are several different surgery techniques and implants, and every person has to receive the individually most suitable treatment. Activity, bone quality, general health and personal goals play a crucial role when deciding on the best treatment, but also other factors, e.g., allergies have to be considered.
In certain cases, patients are only suffering from a partial cartilage damage affecting only one side, medial or lateral. The so-called tibial osteotomy is then an elegant and minimally invasive alternative to an artificial joint. Tibial osteotomy also makes it possible to correct mechanical axis deviations like bowlegs or knock-knees.
Read more about the joint-saving tibial osteotomy