Every week, Edwin de Vaal, general practitioner in Nijmegen, answers a frequently asked or striking question from his practice. This week it is: I have osteoarthritis in my knee. What can I do about it?
How do you know if you have osteoarthritis in your knee?
“With osteoarthritis the knee is thicker. It can also be a bit red and warm and you often suffer from morning stiffness: your knee does not get going well in the morning. The doctor can determine the diagnosis based on physical examination and your story. knee. No X-ray is needed for that. “
What exactly is osteoarthritis?
“Osteoarthritis is the disappearance of the cartilage. It usually only occurs from the age of fifty. It also occurs in other joints. But the knee and the hip are a notorious place for osteoarthritis.”
“With osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your knee becomes thinner. As a result, the bones more or less rub over each other. In response, the tissue around the knee often becomes inflamed. This causes pain and stiffness. Because of this reaction and the abrasion often grows. extra bone at the edges of the knee. This can make your knee look a little different, making the joint wider. “
Is there something to be done against osteoarthritis?
“Not against the wear and tear itself. But osteoarthritis often causes a lot of pain. And there is something that can be done about it. In the first instance, the GP recommends pain medication: two tablets of paracetamol two to three times a day.”
“Walking, cycling, swimming and exercise are good for the knee. And lose weight if you are overweight; then the knee does not have to bear that excess weight. “
Do you have to go to the doctor with arthrosis complaints?
“Yes. In some cases knee complaints are caused by something else, for example a worn hip. But in any case it is good to discuss your complaints with the doctor and know the diagnosis. The doctor can coordinate with you on the best route and which pain medication is most useful in your case. “
“Sometimes paracetamol does not help enough. Then the doctor can add an anti-inflammatory agent. But these can, especially from the age of sixty, cause unpleasant side effects to the stomach and kidneys. So always start with anti-inflammatory drugs in consultation with your doctor.”
Surely there are injections that help against osteoarthritis?
The doctor can give a cortisone injection into the painful joint: a syringe with a type of prednisone that inhibits the inflammation at the site. This decongests the joint, you have less pain and the knee becomes more flexible. After a while it only becomes more flexible. worked out and you have to take another injection. Of course you cannot keep repeating this endlessly. “
What can you do then?
“An artificial knee may be an option. It depends on your situation and your age whether this is useful and sensible. That is also why it is good to discuss your complaints with the doctor. It is a combination of age, other diseases and the amount of complaints someone has. Ultimately, together with the orthopedist, you decide what is the most sensible in your case.
Should you stop moving?
“Certainly not! Movement is extremely important in osteoarthritis. It keeps the joint and your muscles flexible. Walking, cycling, swimming and exercises are good for the knee. And lose weight if you are overweight; the knee does not have to be overweight. to carry.”