Knee ArthritisJune 3, 2019
One of the most common conditions we see as Physiotherapists is osteoarthritis of the knee joint. The condition of the knee and relatable symptoms can be widely variable so what can we, and you, do to eliminate or improve knee pain associated with arthritis?
Clinical research tells us that surgery should be the last option. Knee arthroscopies (“wash-outs”) are often not successful at creating any long-term improvement for osteoarthritis and a Total Knee Replacement should ideally be a last resort.
So, what can be done?
Research supports the use of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for short-term relief; manual therapy, acupuncture, heat, ice and similar therapies also may have a positive, yet short-term, effect. These modalities are ideal to use during a flare-up of symptoms, to either resolve the pain or make it more manageable once again.
However, people with knee osteoarthritis that regular exercise are proven to have less pain with more function that those who are more sedentary.
But won’t exercising encourage further wear of my joint?
Appropriate exercise can actually do the opposite. Research has shown that exercise can stimulate tissue regeneration and is essential for joint health. Regular exercise can improve movement, reduce pain and improve function and quality of life.
Exercise has the strongest evidence for treating knee osteoarthritis and is associated with many other health benefits. 2 in 3 people with osteoarthritis often have other health concerns such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease which can also be improved with exercise. Exercise can also assist with weight loss which has a huge effect on reducing the forces placed through the knee when weight-bearing.
Unfortunately, the majority of Australians with arthritis do not undertake regular exercise. This is often because it is not considered an “easy” option, and sometimes due to sufferers attempting the wrong type of exercise and making their symptoms worse. A regularly performed exercise program consisting of aerobic exercise, resistance training and neuromuscular exercise has been shown to reduce use of painkillers, increase function and delay the need for surgery.
Why do I need to see a physiotherapist? Can I not just join an exercise group or a gym?
Yes, you most certainly can do this, and we encourage it! However, often you might need to start with a very specific, graded, exercise program. We can design you a program that takes into account your specific needs. Some of you may want 20 exercises, others just 3 or 4. It’s important that you have an exercise program developed for you that you are likely to undertake and feel comfortable with.
As trained physiotherapists we are able to provide advice and treatment for managing your pain and movement. Not only will we develop an appropriate exercise regime but we can also give you therapy, as required, to reduce your pain and improve your range of movement in your knee.
If you think you may have knee or hip osteoarthritis then give us a call today, or book online, to see how our Sportscare Physiotherapists can help you learn to manage your osteoarthritis for the long-term.