Do you have knee osteoarthritis (OA)?
- Knee OA is typically the result of wear and tear/degeneration and progressive loss of articular cartilage. It is more apparent in elderly people and can be divided into two types, primary and secondary:
- Primary – articular degeneration without any apparent underlying cause.
- Secondary – consequence of either an abnormal concentration of force across the joint from trauma or abnormal articular cartilage, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis is a painful, chronic joint disorder that can affect not only the knees, but also hands, hips, and the spine. The severity of the symptoms can vary for each individual and will usually progress slowly.
Interesting facts about OA:
- OA is the most common disease in joints worldwide, with the knee being the most affected joint in the body. It mainly affects people over the age of 45.
- OA can lead to pain and loss of function, but not everyone with radiographic findings of knee OA will be symptomatic: in one study only 15% of patients with radiographic findings of knee OA were symptomatic.
- OA affects nearly 6% of all adults.
- Women are more commonly affected than men.
- Roughly 13% of women and 10% of men 60 years and older have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.
- Among those older than 70 years of age, the prevalence rises to as high as 40%.
Symptoms of knee OA:
- Knee pain that is gradual in onset and worsens with activity.
- Knee stiffness and swelling.
- Pain after prolonged sitting or resting.
- Crepitus or a cracking sound with joint movement.
Treatment for knee OA:
- Treatment for knee OA begins with conservative methods and progresses to surgical treatment options when conservative treatment fails.
- There is a large body of evidence demonstrating that exercise provides beneficial clinical outcomes in people with knee OA of varying severity.
- Taping the knee, in particular the patella, is a physiotherapy treatment strategy recommended in the management of knee OA by some clinical guidelines.
- Bracing the knee, like taping, can help reduce symptoms of OA.
- Insoles and shoes offer great potential as a simple, inexpensive treatment strategy for knee OA.
- Manual therapy
There is evidence to indicate that physiotherapy interventions can reduce knee pain and improve function in those with knee OA. Physiotherapy treatments aim to dissipate knee joint load, alter lower limb alignment, improve range of motion, and restore normal neuromuscular function.
No single physiotherapy intervention has shown to provide superior results over the other and it is likely that a combination of treatments is most effective. There is some evidence that physiotherapy in combination with other management strategies, such as weight loss and attention to psychological factors may provide more significant outcomes than any one of these in isolation. An individual approach to patient management is needed to determine which treatments are most appropriate for each patient.
If you want to try, and delay getting a knee replacement, seek guidance from your physiotherapist, call 07 4053 6222.