What is joint arthrosis?
The Endoprosthetics Centre treats advanced cases of arthrosis of the hip and knee joints by inserting artificial joints.
Arthrosis is the world’s most common disease of the joints. It also leads to deformities in and superfluous additions to the bones, as well as changes of the ligaments, tendons and soft tissue.
X-ray of an advanced case of medial arthrosis of the knee at right and the accompanying schematic diagram (image source: © Aesculap AG)
Arthrosis is usually the result of wear and tear (degenerative). Variations of the leg axis in bowleggedness or knock knees result in added strain to a portion of the joints, particularly in the knee area; this also leads to wear-induced arthrosis.
Arthrosis can also be congenital, as in the case of a shallow hip socket (dysplasia), or can be caused as a consequence of some event, such as after an accident. Arthroses can also be a manifestation of a systemic disease, such as articular rheumatism (chronic polyarthritis).
At an advanced stage of the disease, the complaints often result in a significant loss of quality of life and frequently lead to significant limitations on mobility and independence.
The main symptom usually consists of pain in the affected joint. A distinction is made between pain under stress and pain at rest, and pain can also affect a sufferer's ability to get a good night’s sleep. Typical for the disease is stiffness in the mornings, accompanied by what is referred to as ‘start-up pain’.
The result is often a shortness in routes walked; where circumstances require, an auxiliary such as a walker or forearm crutch must be used. The motion of the affected joint is typically restricted.
The diagnosis is made based on the patient’s medical history, a physical examination and imaging – usually X-rays supplemented by other examinations (magnetic resonance imaging, computer tomography, scintigraphy, sonography).
X-ray of a highly advanced case of arthrosis of the hip right in a radiographic pelvic survey image, along with the accompanying schematic diagram (image source: © Aesculap AG)
If no operation is necessary, the focus of a conservative therapy is upon preserving the affected joint and relieving the patient’s discomfort.
First, the patient is informed about the disease, its natural course and the extent to which this can be influenced through conservative or surgical therapy. Among other things, these influences include the patient’s everyday behaviour, physical stress on the job and in sports, body weight and exercises to eliminate muscle deficits, particularly with home exercises.
The disease is treated with medication to reduce pain. A variety of painkillers can be tailored the patient’s individual needs.
Physiotherapy comprises all methods of movement therapy and the complementary measures of physical therapy. All forms of activation in movement therapy apply a systematic and cascading approach to treatment designed to increase the body’s ability to withstand strain while doing as much as possible to restore or maintain normal bodily functioning.
Physiotherapy can improve the pain situation, flexibility and the musculature through training in gait, posture and coordination training, and through muscle building.
If conservative, non-surgical measures cannot produce any improvement in complaints, or if the joint disease has already reached an advanced stage, operative therapy comes into play.
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