Arthritis of the knee. Knee arthritis
Wear and tear in the joint. When knees cause problems
If your knee were an old door hinge it would creak with every movement. What would you do? Of course – oil it a little. Also the constant door-open and door-shut action has worn the hinge out somewhat. The door no longer sits properly on its hinges. So you fetch the file and reshape the hinge to its original form.
Your knee joint is of course not a door hinge but nevertheless it can wear out and creak – and produce rubbing noises. The knee hurts. And step by step the symptoms appear to worsen. The blame lies in the phenomena of wear and tear in the knee joint, medically correct term 'arthritis'.
Step for step arthritis progresses.
Three bones bump against each other in the knee joint: the femur, the tibia and the knee cap. So that they do not rub painfully against one another causing injury, their bearing surface is cushioned by a soft layer of cartilage. However if this protective cartilage disintegrates and the bones rub against each other this produces pain. Avoidance postures and little movement are fatal: If there is too little movement the joint cartilage dries out and also loses its protective dampening function. A vicious circle.
However the treatment for the symptoms of knee arthritis is good. Here at Schön Klinik we are specialists in this area.
Arthritis of the knee. Information from A-Z
Definition. What is arthritis of the knee joint?
Arthritis - what's that?
Several bones impact on each other in a joint. In the knee joint there are three: the large femur, the tibia and the knee cap. So that they do not rub painfully against one another causing injury, the bearing surface of the bones is cushioned by a soft layer of cartilage. When the intervertebral discs in the spine adopt this role, every joint has cartilage.
Wear and tear in the joint = arthritis of the knee
If the protective cartilage around the joint disintegrates, then this is called wear and tear of the joint. The specialist medical term for it is arthritis. Because cartilage is absent the tibia and femur move closer together – the joint space reduces. „Better expressed this means arthritis ‚excessive wear and tear to the joint‘ – a strong change in the joint, which is not associated with normal ageing processes only“ explains Prof. Dr. Pavel Dufek. Consultant at Schön Klinik Neustadt who specialises in the treatment of arthritis in the knee.
This is because joints can wear out – like everything that is used and moved a lot and frequently. Once injured then progressive destruction of the cartilage tissue occurs. Like a stone hitting the windscreen: A small stone produces a small crack. During the journey this can spread across the whole windscreen.
With every step it becomes a little worse.
In terms of the knee joint this means: Because of imbalances or abnormal positions in the knee the bones involved make minimal movements and tendons and ligaments alter their position. This increases friction within the joint. With each step the joint becomes damaged a little more. Avoidance postures and not remaining active however are fatal: If there is too little movement the joint cartilage dries out and also loses its protective dampening function. A vicious circle.
Arthritis becomes very painful when at an advanced stage the protective cartilage layer in the knee joint partially disintegrates. Then the bones rub against each other. This can lead to bone abrasion and deformations.
Symptoms. What are the signs of knee osteoarthritis?
What are the symptoms of Arthritis of the Knee?
Pain in the knee and restricted mobility are symptoms that patients with arthritis of the knee bring to us. Initially pain only occurs during prolonged or strenuous exertion: The joint hurts when going on long walks, when climbing stairs or walking on uneven ground in the forests. The more advanced the arthritis is however the more frequently and intensely severe pain is caused by movement.
When sitting watching TV causes problems...
During the course of arthritis what is known as "start-up pain" develops. "After long periods of resting for instance a cosy evening watching television, patients with arthritis of the knee cannot easily get out of the armchair“ says Professor Dr. Pavel Dufek, Consultant Orthopaedist at Schön Klinik Neustadt. „You have to first 'warm up', extend and stretch your legs in order to be able to move without pain.“ The joint is often swollen and deformed.
At the advanced stages patients with arthritis of the knee also complain about fatigue pain or pain even when completely resting the joint. Depending on the degree of wear it is possible to hear rubbing noises when walking. In some cases the knee becomes stiff from the arthritis.
Checklist: Do you have arthritis of the knee?
Are you having problems with your knee? Our specialist have compiled a brief overview of the answer to such questions. If you can answer all the points on this checklist with a definite "Yes" you should consult a doctor in the immediate future.
Typical symptoms from patients with arthritis of the knee:
- Pain at the start of a movement (start-up pain)
- Pain with longer weight bearing (weight-bearing pain)
- Pain when climbing the stairs and walking on unsurfaced paths
- Severe pain when carrying heavy objects
- Cracking and snapping noises when walking
Causes. How arthritis of the knee develops
How does knee osteoarthritis develop?
The cushioning cartilage in the knee can disintegrate completely without any detectable cause. Arthritis of the knee can therefore develop without any particular triggers. Hereditary factors play a part here. Just as one person's hair remains dark into old age and another person has streaks of grey at 30, natural wear and tear of the joint with cartilage disintegration can begin in one person at 70 and be advanced in another at 30.
A little damage becomes major step by step.
A little damage to the cartilage in the joint in this case counts as the initial impact that sets the ball rolling. Like sand in a gearbox, a little cartilage damage leads to increased friction in the knee joint. Think about a grain of sand in your eye. It scratches. It hurts. You don't want to open your eye. And with every blink of the lid the eye becomes more irritated.
Damage to cartilage in the knee joint means: Increased friction with every step. The joint becomes more stressed. More injured. And the cartilage therefore wears out more quickly. Because of severe irritation the joint may also become inflamed – which can also damage the joint surface allowing arthritis to progress.
Main triggers: Injuries and overexertion.
Wherever a plane is used wood chips will fall – this saying can be applied in the truest sense of the word to the knee joint. Of course wear and tear to a joint also develops from external influences. And a joint such as the knee which is in heavy use also frequently suffers corresponding damage. Cruciate ligament tears, meniscus damage... Many injuries are possible. Arthritis of the knee can also be caused by knock knees or bandy legs – abnormal joint positions put extra stress on certain points in the joint. Like the soles of the shoes provide evidence of weight loading on the foot, incorrect weight bearing puts a great strain on the knee joint.
Overweight people in particular who have burdened their joints for years with too much body weight, show severe wear and tear in the joint. The joint is not designed for excessive weight bearing. It inevitably becomes damaged. Arthritis in the knee can be attributed to inflammation as found in rheumatic diseases or bacterial infections of the knee joint.
Diagnostics & Therapy
When quality of life is severely restricted and no conservative measures help, we advise a surgical treatment of the knee joint.
Arthritis of the knee. FAQ
What is a coupled knee endoprosthesis? What risks are there with an operation? You have the questions and we have the answers.
Our Specialised clinics & hospitals for diagnostics, therapy and treatment of arthritis and diseases of the knee joint.