KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS: Causes and treatment
Updated: May 5
This blog will be talking about the causes and pathology behind this degenerative joint condition. We will look at predisposing factors, physiotherapy treatments that are effective, and the benefits of exercise in the management of symptoms, to get you back feeling fitter and healthier than ever.
WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the protective cartilage that usually surrounds a joint, has been damaged and worn away, exposing part of the underlying bone. When this happens, the bones inside the joint start to rub against each other, resulting in very painful movement, swelling, stiffness and sometimes development of painful bony spurs.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal condition affecting the Australian population, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected joint. There are several factors that can predispose an individual to developing knee osteoarthritis, including obesity, repetitive stress on the joint, previous knee injuries and genetics. However, the most common cause of osteoarthritis is ageing, as incidence has been shown to progressively increase the older we get.
If you think you are suffering from knee osteoarthritis, don't be disheartened! There are many options out there for effective management and control of symptoms - you just need to find out what works best for you.
EXERCISE AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
Whilst you may worry that exercising with osteoarthritis may make matters worse and cause even more pain in your joint, it has actually been proven to be the most effective non-pharmacological treatment method for this condition. In strengthening the muscles around the joint, it takes away some of the stress, increases stability and helps to relieve some of the pain. Some of the most important exercise components to include in your program include maintaining range of motion and flexibility, increasing muscle strength around the affected joint and improving overall mobility.
WEIGHT LOSS AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
One of the major risk factors for osteoarthritis of the knee is being overweight or obese. This is because that little bit of extra weight places higher loads on the knees during standing and walking, leading to accelerated degeneration and more structural damage over time. Research shows that even losing just a few kilos can dramatically decrease the risk of osteoarthritis progression!
ORTHOTICS AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
Another option to consider in management of your knee osteoarthritis is using specific aids and supports to take away some of the load and provide a bit more stability around the joint. Your physiotherapist can assist with deciding on and prescribing a support aid, whether that be something as simple as a heel wedge or foot orthotic, to a knee brace or walking aid.
If you'd like to speak to a physiotherapist about any of these treatment options, contact us today!