Take a new path – put a stop to mild osteoarthritis of the knee
Arthritis is a widespread disease, with estimates indicating that more than 3 million people in Australia are affected by this joint disease. This group includes young and athletic people, too.
Arthritis most often develops in the knee. The diagnosis can make those affected feel uncertain. Many fear that they will always have knee pain from now on and that they will need to take analgesics (pain medication) to be able to move. They wonder how long they will still be able to pursue their hobbies or climb the stairs, and at what point they may no longer be able to do anything without a prosthetic knee joint. Isn’t there any other way out of pain besides medication, no way to avoid or delay an operation?
Yes, there is! Put a stop to mild arthritis. These days, there are good options for living an active life with mild arthritis. In many cases, an orthosis may help reduce the pain – and help you regain your quality of life. Thanks to the appropriate orthosis, surgery may be avoided.
Devices for mild osteoarthritis of the knee
If you have mild arthritis, an Ottobock orthosis may help to alleviate pain and reduce the strain on your knee joints.
Our products for osteoarthritis of the knee
Thanks to the Agilium line of products, many satisfied patients have been able to resume their regular everyday activities. Learn more about the individual orthoses and how they help people with mild osteoarthritis of the knee.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee (or “knee OA” for short) is a degenerative condition of the knee joint. It is incurable and leads to progressive changes in the knee. In the initial stage of arthrosis, you don’t experience any pain or restrictions in movement, or only at times. With advanced osteoarthritis of the knee, pain and discomfort can increase. Most people develop arthrosis over their lives due to wearing of the joints. Risk factors such as obesity, joint malposition, lack of exercise, overloading and incorrect loading of the joints in some types of sports or injuries accelerate joint wear and tear and can also create the conditions for arthrosis to develop in young people.
Arthrosis changes the joint
Because it’s a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis of the knee typically starts with signs of degeneration and/or minimal damage in the joint cartilage. As time passes, the cartilage surface becomes rough and uneven. The joint no longer moves smoothly. It snags and grinds. Increasing friction leads to painful inflammation in the knee, and fluid is effused into the joint capsule. In this condition, also referred to as activated arthrosis, there is constant pain. In the advanced stage of arthrosis, cartilage damage increases and all the tissue involved in the joint is affected. The bones form spurs (osteophytes) to stabilise the joint but cause ankylosis, or stiffening, in the process. Knee pain occurs at increasingly shorter intervals and becomes more severe over time.
Disease progression: stages of arthrosis
Osteoarthritis of the knee is classified into four degrees of severity:
The joint cartilage has invisible signs of degeneration. It’s less elastic than healthy cartilage and can’t recover well after being subjected to strain. Initial knee pain may occur under high strain.
The cartilage tissue becomes thinner. The cartilage surface becomes rough and uneven. The bones form initial spurs (osteophytes). The knee’s ability to bear weight is decreased. At this stage of arthrosis, the disease progression can be effectively slowed by exercises, weight loss and medical devices such as orthoses.
The cartilage has partly disappeared so that the bones begin to rub against each other in some places. X-rays show pronounced bone spurs and narrowing of the joint space. At this advanced stage, arthrosis causes considerable restrictions of movement and knee pain.
The joint space has narrowed considerably and the joint cartilage has almost completely disappeared. The bones are often damaged. The joint is deformed and often inflamed. In this final stage, joint replacement surgery – that is, a prosthetic knee joint – may be the best solution.
The vicious circle of arthrosis
Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee frequently get caught in a vicious circle:
In order to relieve the pain in their knee, the affected person exercises less and often adopts a certain posture to avoid discomfort. However, restricting their movement only provides short-term relief from pain. In the long run, a lack of exercise accelerates cartilage wear and increases pain in the knee. The affected person rests their knee even more often instead of exercising it, and the vicious circle closes.
Furthermore, the unnatural posture they take to avoid discomfort also puts excessive strain on other joints such as the hips, which can cause permanent damage.
Initial symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee
The sooner osteoarthritis of the knee is diagnosed and actively addressed, the better the chances of getting knee pain under control, maintaining joint mobility for a long time to come and slowing down the progressive changes in the knee joint.
If you experience the following symptoms in your knee on a recurring basis, you should have it examined by an orthopaedist:
Knee pain after rest (start-up pain)
Knee pain after unusual exertion
Knee pain during certain movements
Grinding and cracking in the knee joint
Swelling and inflammation in the knee
Active against arthrosis
Osteoarthritis of the knee cannot be cured, but you can effectively alleviate pain and discomfort and significantly improve your quality of life if you actively counteract the arthrosis with conscious nutrition and appropriate exercise.
Your meals should primarily consist of fruit and vegetables, salads, plant oils, nuts and seeds. Fish like mackerel, salmon and herring are rich in nutrients and Omega-3 fatty acids that curb inflammation. So if you like, we recommend eating healthy fish twice a week. Some spices not only improve the taste of food, they are also good for the joints: turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander have an anti-inflammatory and decongestant effect. Chilli and ginger help to relieve pain. Meat can be eaten in moderation, but poultry is preferable. Beef and pork should rarely be consumed. It’s best to avoid processed convenience foods with high amounts of fat and sugar and to avoid alcohol and nicotine. If you are overweight, losing weight will take the strain off your joints and help you have less knee pain and feel lighter and fitter overall.
Exercise in everyday life
Regular exercise is essential to counteract the progressive changes caused by arthrosis, maintain knee function and relieve pain. You should therefore integrate more exercise into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, run small errands on foot or by bike instead of using the car and relax with an evening walk rather than sitting in front of the television. At work, you can do short exercises during breaks – you’ll see that this isn’t just good for your knee, it also refreshes your mind.
Types of sports
In addition to everyday exercise, regularly engaging in certain types of sports is ideal for keeping arthrosis under control. Swimming, water aerobics, Nordic walking, biking or long walks, for example, maintain knee mobility and prevent pain. They also strengthen your leg muscles and promote your overall mobility and endurance. The most important rule is to keep moving, without overexerting yourself. This will have a positive effect on your knee joints, and you’ll feel better and more mobile in general.
However, it’s better to avoid sports that put a lot of strain on the knee joint due to abrupt stops, tight turns or high pressure at certain points. This includes most ball sports, martial arts or downhill skiing.
Active again thanks to the Agilium: four people talk about their lives
Christoph with the Agilium Freestep
Christoph has osteoarthritis of the knee. “The Agilium Freestep 3.0 lets me do many things I couldn’t have done before. I can’t imagine a day without the brace anymore.”