Joints that are already worn out cannot be regenerated up to the present time. Therefore, early detection of the disease is extremely important.
Relieve the joints
The course of the disease can be positively influenced, e.g. by relieving the joints.
For this reason, overweight people should urgently reduce their body weight. With orthopaedic aids (hand cane, buffer heels, insoles), malpositions can be compensated for and complaints alleviated.
The nutritional status of the cartilage is improved by exercise without load (swimming, cycling at very low speeds), which counteracts the progression of wear and tear.
Physiotherapy and physical therapy also have positive effects. Massages, heat and cold treatment strengthen the musculature and thus protect the joints.
Drugs and medicines
Pain and inflammation can be alleviated by medication.
Pain therapy is divided into cortisone-containing and cortisone-free drugs (so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and COX-2 inhibitors). There is also the possibility of injecting cortisone directly into the joints (in particularly severe cases).
Some doctors recommend injecting hyaluronic acid into affected joints as synovial fluid. There are patients who respond very well to this after 3-6 injections and complaints improve between 6 and 12 months.
Furthermore, nutritional supplements are offered in many pharmacies and drugstores. These preparations are supposed to help build up cartilage with ingredients such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate. The effect has not yet been clearly proven, but some studies show a positive effect (stabilizing, alleviating pain), others show no effect.
Patients with particularly pronounced arthrosis have the option of surgery. In this case, the damaged joint is replaced by a prosthesis (artificial joint) in the course of a surgical intervention. This is followed by a stay in hospital (up to 2 weeks) and physiotherapeutic training to build up muscles and learn how to use the new joint.
Depending on lifestyle, activity and stress on the prosthesis, it will remain functional for around 20 years or even longer. If necessary, it can be replaced.
Thanks to the rapid progress of biotechnology, it is now possible to grow cartilage tissue. The starting tissue is the body's own cartilage, which is artificially cultivated (tissue engineering) and implanted. However, the implantation must take place before the bone under the affected joint is damaged.
It is hoped that this will be particularly successful for knee joints in the future.