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Knee Attack!
  • 09 June 2020
  • Written by: Dr. Atul Wankhede

As the name suggests, the condition is a little short, if not equal, to a heart attack. The good news is that the sufferer doesn't risk to die a sudden death if not treated. Instead the disease progresses and causes a slow and painful series of events which according to me are nothing short of a slow painful death.

The Knee attack is defined as sudden occurrence of severe debilitating knee pain resulting from extreme rubbing of bare surfaces of bones in the joint as a result of severe arthritis. Its worth mentioning that this event, just like heart attack, is built up over the years and certain activities bring about the acute culmination of the symptoms. Activities such as sudden rise after being seated for a long time, a mild unstable twist while descending stairs, a walk on uneven surface or just straightening of legs after prolonged crossed legged sitting are few examples that are known to cause knee attack.

The patient, who's usually in their 50's or 60's and faintly aware of their condition, realise that immediate weight bearing on the affected leg is impossible. Locking of the knee in a particular angle is noted in few. Patient is forced to sit down to ease the pain which typically lasts for 5-10 min and sometimes even more. Having realised the possible culprit which led to the pain, the person tries to avoid the posture that hurts the most. The usual set of medicines are then taken with consultation of family physician or specialist, and a definitive treatment is advised.

Similar to heart attack, the definitive treatment for knee attack needs to be undertaken with nearly equal seriousness. Just like angiography, an MRI or diagnostic arthroscopy defines the actual cause of the attack. Similar to angioplasty or bypass surgery, an arthroscopic debridement or Total knee replacement is the treatment of choice.

The terminology of Knee attack is coined to highlight and create awareness about sudden knee pain due degenerative arthritis aetiology, requires some immediate treatment just like heart attack. Thankfully there's more time at hand than the golden hour, that might be termed as golden week or a month. But there's no benefit of a golden year, by which time the arthritis might have advanced further and caused irrevocable damage to adjacent healthy tissue.

I've always felt the need to make patients understand that our forefathers too suffered with debilitating arthritis, and while advanced treatment wasn't available then, they still went on with their lives. Maybe not very comfortably but they went on. They left their mobility and fates to mother nature. Today we falsely accuse ourselves of not being as strong as they were and that we need treatment for every small thing. But if truth be told, we're as strong as nature has strengthened us, and if we don't want to go on with pain, so be it. Modern medicine has added quality lives to arthritic knees and they're doing everything but leaving their fates to destiny. Not all knees need replacement, like all heart blocks don't need angioplasty. But like some hearts need angioplasty, why does the acceptance to knee replacement is lacking behind?

People tend to give examples of failures of knee replacement done for a relative or family member in past. There's no doubt that failures do happen, and for a good reason most of the times, and reasons beyond one's control. But they occur at a rate similar to any other medical procedure, or even lesser than most of other surgeries known. But with careful selection and timely intervention this can be entirely avoided.

I hope this helps everyone in understanding the dread of knee attack and the best way to tackle it. If you've suffered an attack recently please evaluate your knee here instantly.

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