Arthrosis is a disease mainly due to wear and aging of the joints, and it is defined by the World Health Organization as a “chronic degenerative disorder with idiopathic nature characterized by the progressive loss of joint cartilage” and it is a major cause of disability, which is also one of the major problems for public health in Western countries.
Oxygen-ozone therapy (OOT) is one of the new frontiers for the treatment of this disease and in general in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, chronic skin lesions and in many pathological conditions in which chronic systemic oxidative stress is called into question.
We talked about this topic with Dr. Lorenzo Virelli, Physiatrist of the Orthopedic Rehabilitation Unit of Humanitas, who takes care of this method in collaboration with dr. Cristiano Sconza, also a physiatrist of the Orthopedic Rehabilitation Unit, under the direction of dr. Stefano Respizzi.
Knee arthrosis: when and in whom does it occur?
Age is the most linked risk factor to the development of osteoarthritis which, being a wear and tear disorder, has a higher incidence in older people, especially after the age of 50″, explained Dr. Virelli. “Obesity, which increases ‘mechanical’ stress and the load on the joint, is also a very important risk factor; finally, genetics and family history: it has been demonstrated – added the doctor – that those who have first-degree relatives suffering from arthrosis are more likely to develop the same disease,” concluded Virelli, adding that even ‘external’ factors such as work, sporting activity, especially at a high level, can affect the development of arthrosis.
The main symptom of knee arthrosis is obviously joint pain: “a progressive discomfort exacerbated by movement. It can last a few days to several weeks and is often associated with joint stiffness, especially in the morning, and in some cases episodes of ‘failure’ and instability of the knee,” explained Dr. Virelli.
Treating with oxygen-ozone therapy: preparation and treatment
For a successful treatment and to avoid pain, first of all it is advisable to reduce the risk factors mentioned above as much as possible; it is therefore recommended to lose weight, if necessary, to carry out physical activity on a regular basis provided that the ‘load’ and ‘impact’ on the knee are low to improve flexibility and maintain muscle tone and, in general, to suspend smoking and alcohol.
After a thorough investigation and after framing the diagnosis, medical ozone is injected, a mixture of oxygen and ozone prepared and dosed with special equipment: “The treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee occurs through intrarticular infiltrations, usually once a week. The frequency and duration of treatment may vary depending on the patient’s state of health and response to therapy. There are several ‘customizable’ protocols,” explained Virelli. “It is a treatment that reduces inflammation and pain” and “with very few contraindications, unlike other pharmacological therapies that may be discouraged or completely contraindicated in some patients (such as anti-inflammatories or cortisone)”. As in all infiltrative procedures, a rest period of 12 to 24 hours is recommended immediately after administration, but it is not necessary to remain at rest for prolonged periods.
The risk of recurrence
The OOT is an excellent therapy for the symptom, in particular for pain, but studies in the literature tell us that it is not enough to stop the progression of the disease and therefore the symptoms will tend to reappear. It is therefore an effective method in delaying the use of other therapies that may have side effects or surgery, in patients who do not want to or cannot have the surgery.