The knee joint is one of the largest and most difficult joints of a person, which daily withstands enormous loads. At the same time, the knee is a rather vulnerable formation, which is subject to various diseases and injuries. The following factors increase the risk of knee joint pathology:
- excessive loads;
- constant microtrauma of the joint components;
- poor development of the muscular system;
- congenital and acquired diseases of the musculoskeletal system;
- playing professional sports;
- a history of trauma or knee surgery;
- elderly age;
Many diseases of the knee joint have similar symptoms, so their diagnosis is somewhat difficult and requires additional methods of examination. It is important to establish the cause of the pathology, since the treatment is directly dependent on it and in each case it differs.
Consider the most common diseases of the knee.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common pathology of this localization. It is a degenerative-dystrophic process in which the intra-articular cartilage of the knee is gradually destroyed, which causes instability of the articulation and secondary changes in the form of osteophyte proliferation. Such changes subsequently lead to joint deformation, loss of limb function, in some cases the joint gap disappears completely, and the joint itself ceases to function (ankylosis).
Most often, arthrosis occurs in older and elderly people as one of the manifestations of age-related changes, but it is often found in people of middle and even younger age. As a rule, these patients have the risk factors described above.
Arthrosis develops gradually, in several stages. At the very beginning, people do not notice the problem, writing off the symptoms for fatigue or a change in the weather. They are worried about the feeling of discomfort or mild pain that occurs after heavy and excessive loads. After resting the symptoms disappear completely.
In the second stage, pain in the knees appears when doing daily work. This forces patients to take painkillers. At this stage, there is a crunch during movements, periodic cuttings in the knees, the limitation of the amplitude of movements in the joint begins to appear.
In the last stage, the cartilage tissue of the joint is completely destroyed, which leads to a pronounced and chronic pain syndrome, deformity and loss of limb function. As a rule, at this stage, conservative treatment does not have an effect, and only the operation can return the person the ability to move.
Arthritis is a lesion of an inflammatory joint, and inflammation may have infectious, allergic, or autoimmune etiology. The list of diseases that come together under the general name arthritis is very long. In some cases, the inflammation of the knee is a separate pathology, for example, purulent arthritis, but most often the arthritis of the knee joint is one of the signs of a general disease of the body, for example, rheumatoid, reactive, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, systemic lupus erythematosus and other diseases of connective tissue.
The symptoms of arthritis are almost the same, regardless of the cause. Patients complain about:
- pain in the knee, which can be acute, aching, throbbing, constant or intermittent (a detailed description of the pain syndrome will help the doctor to suspect a particular disease);
- swelling of the knee, in some cases, the joint may increase by 2 or more times in diameter;
- redness or other discoloration of the skin over a sore knee;
- the skin becomes hot to the touch;
- the articulation function is impaired due to pain or swelling, and in the later stages of chronic arthritis due to deformities.
Detailed diagnosis with the definition of the type and cause of arthritis is needed in each case, since their treatment is very different. Therefore, in the presence of symptoms of inflammation of the knees, be sure to seek specialized medical care.
Other inflammatory diseases
In addition to arthritis, there are several other inflammatory diseases of the knee joints.
The capsule of the knee joint forms many folds and pockets (burs, or bags), which are necessary for the normal functioning of the joint. They perform protective and depreciation functions. But in some cases these formations can become inflamed, fluid accumulates in them and bursitis develops.
Inflammation of the articular bags can be infectious and non-infectious. Pathological microorganisms can penetrate inside with the blood stream, directly from the external environment with an open wound, from foci of infection located near the knee joint. Among nontraumatic causes, bursitis causes mechanical injury, systemic rheumatological diseases, etc.
When bursitis pain in the knee is intense, remains at rest. The function of the joint suffers greatly, it swells, the skin over it turns red. In some cases, you can see or grope tumor bulge (inflamed bursa with a secret inside). Treatment is usually conservative, but in severe cases, surgical debridement may be necessary.
The knee joints are reinforced with a large number of ligaments, each of which can be inflamed. Such a lesion is called tendinitis. It occurs, as a rule, due to constant microtrauma of ligamentous elements or their infection.
This disease has almost no external signs. The pain appears only with certain movements (it depends on the ligament, which is affected).
If tendinitis becomes chronic, complications such as ligament rupture may develop, which can only be restored surgically.
Under this term various pathologies of the intraarticular menisci of the knee joint are combined. They are 2 cartilaginous pads (outer and inner), which complement the knee joint. Menisci may suffer because of injuries (most often) or inflammatory processes.
The most common types of meniscus lesions:
- detachment from the place of attachment;
- different types of breaks;
- pathological mobility;
- degeneration of its tissue with the development of varus or valgus deformity of the lower extremities;
- cystic regeneration.
Treatment of meniscopathy depends on the degree of damage to the structure and on the individual characteristics of the patient. For example, often a mild injury is not accompanied by symptoms that can affect a person’s normal life, but the situation changes dramatically if the victim is a professional athlete. In the first case, conservative therapies are used or they are not prescribed at all; the second case requires urgent restorative surgical treatment.
Chondropathies, or osteochondropathies, are diseases of the knee joint, which are based on dystrophic processes due to malnutrition of certain areas of bone tissue (growth area, ligament attachment site, end sections of long tubular bones). As a rule, occur in adolescents and children during the period of active growth. The risk factor is excessive exercise, the constant trauma of certain parts of the joint.
These diseases occur in most cases favorably. But sometimes it can be complicated by the separation of the bone tissue, ligaments that are attached to the bones. This situation requires surgical correction of the defect.
The most common osteochondropathy of the knee joint:
- Osgood-Schlatter disease – osteochondropathy of the tibial tuberosity, which is located below the patella. The quadriceps tendon tendon is attached to this area.
- Patellar chondropathy – pathological changes are localized on the posterior surface of the patella.
Anyone can get a knee injury. There are so many varieties of such damage. Often knee injuries are combined. The following types can be distinguished:
- bruise of soft tissue joints;
- traumatic hemarthrosis (accumulation of blood in the joint cavity);
- tears or tears of the meniscus;
- Sprain and tearing of the intraarticular and extraarticular ligaments (anterior and posterior cruciate, lateral and medial collateral, patellar tendon, etc.);
- intraarticular bone fractures that form the knee joint;
- fracture and dislocation of the patella;
- dislocation of the leg in the knee joint;
- rupture of the capsule joint.
Only a traumatologist after a thorough examination and carrying out all the necessary additional studies (radiography, MRI, CT, ultrasound of the joint) can determine the type of injury.
Among the diseases of the knee joint, there are more rare.
This is a chronic inflammation of Goff’s fatty bodies (accumulations of fatty tissue in the area of the pterygoid folds of the joint capsule) and their subsequent degeneration. It arises due to the constant injury of these formations and their interruption between the bones.
In addition to chronic pain, Hoff’s disease adversely affects the health of the entire joint, because fiber has a protective and amortization function.
Among the symptoms that will allow to suspect pathology, can be identified:
- knee pain;
- swelling on the front of the knee below the patella;
- inability to straighten the leg as much as possible.
The danger of this pathology lies in the fact that it is a serious risk factor for secondary degenerative-dystrophic lesions of the knee joint.
The Becker cyst, or knee hygroma, is a benign cystic formation that has a dense connective tissue sheath, and inside it is filled with gel-like contents. Anatomically, this formation is connected with the capsule of the joint or the sheath of the tendons, and therefore is located near the knee (most often in the popliteal fossa).
The bulge appears gradually, at first it does not hurt, but as it grows painful sensations may appear. This formation is benign and never degenerates into a cancer.
To effectively remove a cyst can only be surgically. The indications for such an operation are infection of the formation, its large dimensions, due to which movements in the knee are limited, a cosmetic defect.
In concluding, it should be noted that there are many diseases that affect the knee joints. The symptoms of most of them are very similar, so careful diagnosis and identification of risk factors is necessary. This will effectively treat the pathology and prevent its re-development.