Knee Osteoarthritis: What is it and what you can do about it today!

What is it?

Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive disease resulting in inflammation and degeneration of the knee joint.

Knee OA is estimated to effect over 2 million Australians and is a significant cause of disability as we age.

It is also one of the most common conditions where people seek knee surgery to fix their pain.

But what if i told you can improve your pain, move better, avoid surgery and reduce your suffering?

Then you better read this blog to get the best information going for knee OA!

"The first port of call, before considering surgery, should be a conservative management plan"

Kyle Wells: Physiotherapist Tweet

What are the symptoms?
Knee osteoarthritis effects everyone differently, here are some of the more common symptoms:

  • Knee stiffness often noticed first thing of a morning or after periods of inactivity
  • Knee pain in the morning which lessens as we get up and moving about
  • Knee pain which is aggravated by stairs, squatting or kneeling
  • The feeling or sound of grating, clicking or grinding when moving the knee
  • Swelling of the knee following activity
  • Tenderness to touch around the knee joint

Are your experiencing any of these symptoms?

How is Knee O.A Diagnosed?

This is a really common question I hear and the diagnosis of knee OA is a combination of two things.

Clinical findings

The best diagnosis comes from listening to your history, the behaviours of your pain and activity levels.

We also use joint palpation and may use some other tests to determine the extent of which OA has affected the joint. 

Scans

While not always necessary to get a diagnosis, knee OA can be simply diagnosed via x-ray imaging.

An Xray can tell us about where the osteoarthritis is within the joint and the condition of the space between the joint surfaces.

MRI, while not also necessary can be use as it gives us (and a surgeon) more information.

Why does Knee OA occur?

Many people often ask us why did I get Knee OA? 

There is no simple answer, it is very different for each and every person. 

Below is a list of some factors that may predispose someone to arthritis of the knee.

**Note: some of which are super important in the management of knee OA.**

Predisposing Factors

Age – Age related degeneration of our load bearing joints is a normal part of life, it happens in the shoulder spine, the hip, and ankle.

The knee is just another joint that can be affected.

Weight – How much you weigh will directly affect how much force or load travels through your knee during walking, stairs, running, jumping etc.

Although weight is considered a risk, plenty of big people don’t have OA of the knee.

However, weight management is really important for Knee OA if your suffering from it.

Previous injury – A previously injured knee may have altered biomechanics and patterns of movement if not rehabbed correctly.

Therefore over time, force is placed on different areas of the knee joint during everyday life.

Reduced muscle strength – The muscles of our body support the bones and joints allowing us to move as we wish.

If our trunk,hip, leg (even foot) muscles are weak then the knee joint will be forced to take more of the load during day to day life.

Genetics – Just like ageing some of us can’t escape out genes, sometimes our knees can be affected by a family history of osteoarthritis. 

What is the treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis?

The first port of call, before considering surgery, should be a conservative management.

That means Physiotherapy!

What will Physiotherapy do for knee osteoarthritis?

The aims of Physiotherapy with knee osteoarthritis will be:

1. Reduce knee pain and inflammation
2. Increase strength of the Back muscles, Hip muscles and Leg muscles
3. Increase Range of motion of the knee joint
4. Improve balance, proprioception and knee function

Lets discuss this a bit further and I will give you my 3 best treatment options for knee osteoarthritis. 

The 3 best conservative treatments for knee osteoarthritis??

  1. Exercise Therapy

Exercise has the best evidence for long term management of knee osteoarthritis.

By exercising under the supervision of us a FightingFit Physiotherapy you will improve your strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, balance, proprioception and much more.

Strengthening of the muscles in your back, core, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves will:

  • Restore optimal muscle length and strength
  • Improve joint biomechanics
  • Improve physical conditioning
  • Decrease the load through your knee joint/s
  • All resulting in the easing of painful knee joints

DON’T STRESS! The type of exercise, intensity and volume  you do will be tailored to your ability, fitness level, exercise experience and symptoms to ensure you get results.

  1. Weight Control

As obesity is a strong risk factor for increasing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

Losing 10% of total body weight using a combination of diet and exercise will significantly improve symptoms and quality of life.

I work closely with our Dietitian at Fighting Fit Physio to ensure your diet assists our exercise aims.

  1. Hydrotherapy

Water based exercise or hydrotherapy is an excellent choice for individuals wanting to begin an exercise routine to help manage their knee osteoarthritis if exercising on land is too painful.

While in the water there is less load from our bodyweight and gravity being placed through the knees which creates supportive environment for us to exercise within.

I love to use hydrotherapy to begin exercising as it allows to build strength and conditioning in the water which will convert to exercise and improved function out of the pool.

If you found this information useful please share it with your friends and family.

If your suffering arthritis in your knee then come into the clinic and I will assess your knee, give you a diagnosis and most importantly a plan to ease you pain and improve your function.

Here is to healthy knees!

Kyle

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