In the context of osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disease of the joints, pain often does not occur permanently, but shows a wave-like course of symptoms. Phases of acute pain, so-called “relapses”, alternate with symptom-free intervals, sometimes lasting months.
How do you recognize an arthrosis attack?
An arthrosis relapse is characterised by several quite typical symptoms, although it should be noted that these can also present themselves in a significantly different way depending on the affected joint and individual predisposition. The symptoms can be particularly different in the case of temporomandibular joint arthrosis. The typical symptoms of a relapse include: A common sign of an arthrosis relapse is morning stiffness and a so-called starting pain; this means that the first movements after a resting phase are particularly painful and the pain then subsides again.
In other cases, the pain first becomes noticeable during movement, then called movement pain, or it appears as fatigue pain after prolonged stress. As the disease progresses, the pain increasingly becomes a pain at rest, which in turn means that patients can no longer sleep through the night because of pain. Due to the joint surfaces rubbing against each other, so-called crepitations, i.e. a joint grinding, often occur.
Many patients also complain of muscle tension. The reason for this is a relieving posture, which is naturally taken because of the pain, but at the same time leads to the muscles being strained in an unusual way and sometimes even overstrained. The body then reacts to this unaccustomed strain by tensing the muscles and tendons.
An inflammation in the joint also leads to joint effusion, which is particularly common in knee arthrosis (gonarthrosis). Patients notice a sometimes severe swelling of the joint. In some cases a so-called dancing patella can be observed.
If there is a lot of fluid in the joint and you press on the kneecap with the knee stretched and release it jerkily, it “dances” up and down. Other signs of inflammation may include redness and overheating of the joint. Many patients report a restriction of the freedom of movement, where gestures cannot be carried out to the end.
On the one hand, this is due to pain and on the other hand, the increasing changes in the bone, including the formation of cysts and bony outgrowths (osteophytes), mean that the joint no longer functions properly. In the course of time, the joint may even become almost completely stiff. Due to the continuous damage to surrounding structures, the joint can also become increasingly unstable.
The joint surfaces no longer fit together properly and in addition, the physiologically stabilizing muscles and ligaments fail to function properly due to the inflammatory destruction. Furthermore, people with arthrosis are sometimes sensitive to the weather. This means that the symptoms of an arthrosis relapse occur particularly when the weather changes and in cold, wet conditions. Arthrosis of the finger joints can lead to malpositions and deformities of the fingers due to remodelling processes. – Morning stiffness
- Start-up, movement and fatigue and pain at rest
- Articular effusion
- Reddening and overheating
- Restriction of movement in the joint