Knee pain affects nearly 50% of people over the age of 50, and in 25% of those people it becomes a long-term problem although it can occur at any time of life. The pain caused by osteoarthritis of the knee can significantly reduce your quality of life, your experiences with your family and impact on your daily activities.
Unlike some forms of arthritis which result in inflamed, swollen, hot and painful joints, osteoarthritis (OA) is different. OA is a degenerative arthritis, where the cartilage in your joints, or in this case the cartilage in the knee, starts to break down.
What are some of the causes of this type of arthritis and perhaps more importantly, are there any treatment options that may be able to provide relief?
The Causes and Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis
This form of arthritis occurs when the cartilage within the knee joint (known as hyaline articular cartilage) begins to wear down. Over time, this can create a rough joint surface that will cause the bones to grind against one another. Higher levels of friction can also lead to conditions such as cysts, bone spurs and degenerative tears of nearby cartilage such as the menisci. You may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Creaking, crunching, grinding sensation in the knee
- Swelling (caused by extra fluid in the joint)
- Your knee giving way
- Your knee not moving as freely or as far as normal.
Keep in mind that the severity and frequency of these symptoms can vary; they may feel manageable on certain days while they could become much more pronounced on others. This is why it is important to seek physiotherapy sooner as opposed to later.
What Physiotherapy Options Exist?
It should first be mentioned that knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition. Therefore, the treatment options are primarily intended to provide you with relief from the symptoms mentioned above. The main goals are to reduce pain, to increase mobility and to strengthen the muscles around the knee as well as throughout the leg (to provide more ancillary support).
In terms of treatment, practitioners will first evaluate the extent of your arthritis as well as your ultimate goals. Targeted programmes can then be created. One of the most common approaches involves the implementation of several exercises which can help to lengthen and strengthen muscles that may have shrunk as a result of the condition (such as the quadriceps). There are times when these programmes can reduce the chances that surgery will be required (although this will once again vary between individuals). Some other treatment options include:
- The use of a knee brace
- Targeted stretching techniques
- Dietary programmes to shed excess weight
- Massages and similar therapeutic sessions
A real time ultrasound clinic can be useful in the initial diagnosis, as preliminary examinations will highlight the progression of this condition as well as which treatments could prove to be the most beneficial.
Whether you have recently been diagnosed with this condition or you suspect that it may be present, it is always important to contact the professionals at Turramurra Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy. We will be happy to discuss your treatment options in greater detail.