Arthrosis deutsche rheuma liga bundesverband e. V

The "Living with Arthrosis" guidebooklet of the German rheumatism league clears up over the illness, therapies as well as chances and risks of joint operations.


What is osteoarthritis?

Arthrosis is a damage of the joint cartilage, which cannot repair itself again. In addition, the joint bones change due to loss of joint cartilage. The disease often occurs when joints are permanently subjected to too much stress. Theoretically, all joints can be affected. The most common are the hip-. Knee joints affected. The finger joints may also have osteoarthritis.

If osteoarthritis remains untreated, every movement will eventually become a torment. Early therapy can preserve and improve joint mobility. Therefore, it is important to recognize the warning signs in time.

The causes – how does osteoarthritis occur??

Osteoarthritis can occur when the cartilage between the joints wears away over the years. It can also be the result of injuries, joint infections caused by bacteria or a joint malposition. Inflammatory joint changes can also lead to osteoarthritis. Hereditary factors play a role in arthrosis of the finger joints.

The likelihood of developing osteoarthritis depends not only on age, but also on gender.

– Old people are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis – until the age of 55. Men in particular are affected from the age of 65. – In later years, the disease occurs more frequently in women.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis – what are the warning signs??

Osteoarthritis announces itself slowly. In order to recognize it, it is important to correctly interpret even seemingly harmless changes.

A first sign is often the "start-up pain". You start walking and notice a pulling sensation or a feeling of tension in your knee or hip during the first few meters. Later, pain from exertion is added. This pain occurs only after prolonged walking. At the beginning, the pain is rather fleeting, in the advanced stage, many patients can only move with pain. There is a continuous pain that persists even at night. Often the affected joint is then also swollen and overheated. A joint effusion has formed. This condition is called activated arthrosis.

The pain is an alarm signal indicating advanced damage. This usually means that the destruction of the joints is already in full swing. As soon as there is a suspicion, it is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible to get a diagnosis quickly.

Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

– Joint stiffness (morning stiffness) – Joint pain on exertion (pain on exertion) – Swelling of the joint – Constant pain in the joint – Tense muscles around the joint

What helps with osteoarthritis? A look at the guidelines

Drugs, injections, operations – what helps with arthrosis and which therapies should be avoided? A look at the guidelines

The diagnosis – how does the doctor determine the disease??

Many diseases cause pain in the joints. In order to treat it properly, the doctor must first identify it. Questioning the patient (anamnesis). Clinical examinations are helpful. Initially, there are no abnormalities in laboratory tests. Among the imaging procedures are joint ultrasound. Conventional X-ray image important for diagnosis. A joint ultrasound is usually only used when the doctor sees a need for action – for example, in the case of meniscus damage.

Therapy – how is osteoarthritis treated?

Destroyed cartilage cannot be rebuilt. In osteoarthritis therapy, the aim is to preserve existing cartilage.

Important for this is movement. When the joints already hurt so much that patients can hardly move, the goal is to get the pain under control. There are several options in therapy:

– a treatment with medication – a treatment without medication – an operation

The first two options are considered at an early stage of the disease. In a later often only surgery helps.

Osteoarthritis medications can be divided into two groups:

– Agents that relieve symptoms in the short term – Agents that permanently halt the progression of the disease

The most important drugs in osteoarthritis therapy are so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). That are pain-. Anti-inflammatory drugs. They work very well in osteoarthritis, but can affect the stomach and blood vessels.

When taken continuously, almost all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have undesirable side effects. Patients should ask a doctor for advice before taking the drug and avoid continuous therapy.

If the arthrosis is far advanced and causes severe pain, a cortisone injection into the joint can help. Cortisone soothes the joint and causes it to swell. Drugs that restore the destroyed cartilage are not yet available today.

In the early stages, osteoarthritis can often be treated without medication. Possibilities are:

– Physiotherapy – a physical therapy – aiming for a normal body weight

That arthrosis is also known colloquially as "joint wear and tear is misleading, because it would mean that it would be helpful to spare the joints. In fact, the opposite is true.

Specific exercises can protect the joints and make them mobile again. Sensible sports include swimming, cycling or Nordic walking (or simply going for a walk).

Jerky movements such as when playing squash, on the other hand, are more likely to put strain on them. The German Rheumatism League helps with its exercise programs.

3. Surgery

Depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis, there are different surgical procedures.

a) Joint-preserving surgery
In this type of surgery, doctors either eliminate a joint malposition, or they remove loose cartilage parts.

b) Joint prosthesis
If it is not possible to preserve the joint, a joint endoprosthesis can be useful. Nowadays, this is a routine procedure. Particularly frequent are hip-. Knee joint endoprostheses.

c) Joint stiffening
Some joints, on the other hand, are not so easy to replace, such as the ankle joint in the foot. A solution in the case: in an operation it is stiffened. This eliminates the pain. Does not hinder the patient too much in everyday life.

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