What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Many kinds of arthritis can affect the knee joint but osteoarthritis is the most common. Some people call it “degenerative joint disease” or “age-related arthritis”. Knee Osteoarthritis is more likely to develop, as people get older but it could happen in younger people too.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint surface cartilage (also called hyaline cartilage or articular cartilage) becomes worn away leaving the bone beneath exposed. Cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in normal joints and normally serves as a “pad”. The primary function ofcartilage is to reduce friction in the joints and serve as a”shock absorber.” The shock-absorbing quality of normal cartilage comes from its ability to change shape when compressed. It can do this because of its high water content.
Although cartilage may undergo some repair when damaged, the body does not grow new cartilage after it is injured. When the cartilage wears away, the space between the bones decreases and the result is a roughed joint surface where bone is rubbing on bone, which causes pain and stiffness. Knee Osteoarthritis develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time.
What Causes Knee Osteoarthritis?
The specific cause of knee osteoarthritis is unknown. There are, however, many risk factors that can contribute to develop knee osteoarthritis. These most common factors include:
- Previous knee injury
- Previous knee surgery
- Increasing age
- Being overweight
- Genetic (inherit) defects in the cartilage and/or hereditary predisposition
- Having another type of joint disease (rheumatoid arthritis, gout)
- Activities that involve extra stress on the knee joint (repetitive activity, physically demanding job)
Signs And Symptoms Of Knee Osteoarthritis
- Pain, especially in the mornings or after periods of resting such as prolonged sitting; and also pain during or after movement
- Stiffness in the mornings and after periods of resting or sitting
- Crepitus, grinding and crunching noise during movement. Occasionally locking of the knee could be experienced.
- Tenderness around the knee joint
- Gradually lost of range of motion
- Muscle imbalance including weakness, muscle atrophy and muscle tightness that could affect your gait and sometime a “give away” or “buckling” sensation
- Difficulty performing certain activities of daily living such as: walking, climbing up and down the stairs, and getting up from a chair.
Physiotherapy Treatment For Knee Osteoarthritis
Step 1 – Thorough History & Assessment
The key to an effective treatment plan is to have the correct diagnosis. We start every management plan with a thorough history of your condition followed by a physical exam to ensure the correct diagnosis is made and to rule out any medical condition for which further evaluation may be required. We then discuss our findings and treatment options and together come up with a treatment plan. Once this is agreed upon, treatment typically starts on the first visit. On occasion, a referral to your doctor will be necessary for further testing (ex. blood work or x-rays) prior to treatment.
Step 2 – Pain Management and decreasing swelling
Managing pain is usually the main goal for patients with knee osteoarthritis. Your physiotherapist will choose from a variety of modalities the most appropriate for your particular case. These modalities may include electrotherapy (interferential current, TENS), acupuncture, heat/cold therapy, and manual techniques to help improve your pain.
Step 3 – Restoring Range of Motion and Strength
Increasing range of motion and strength is an important part of the rehabilitation process. Manual therapy techniques (passive range of motion, joint mobilization, muscle energy technique, and facilitation techniques) in addition to an exercise routine, including stretching and range of motion exercises will help you to restore knee flexibility. Also, an individualized strengthening exercise program, targeting specific muscles will help to increase your strength, balance and overall function.
Step 4 – Restoring Function And Providing Walking Aids
Most patients with knee osteoarthritis experience difficulty with certain activities, such as walking, sitting-to-standing, and climbing stairs. Restoring function is the ultimate goal of the physiotherapy treatment. As part of your rehabilitation process, a functional exercise program is designed to help you improve your function and facilitate your daily activities.
In some cases, knee braces are recommended to improve pain and increase function. Your physiotherapist will assess you particular case and make the appropriate recommendations.
Step 5 – Education and Self-Management
Understanding your condition is the first step in your recovery. Educating you about your condition, what to expect and giving you the tools to self-manage is a fundamental part of the rehabilitation process. Good communication with your physiotherapist is key to have positive outcomes.
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Call Us To Make An Appointment
To schedule an appointment by phone, please call our office at 902-407-7207, anytime. When you call, we will be happy to answer any questions regarding the conditions we treat, clinic fees and billing practices, or any other questions you may have.
Kinetesis Spine & Joint Clinic is currently accepting new patients. Active Release Technique, Cox Spinal Decompression, and all other services rendered by Dr. Stryniak can be billed under ‘chiropractic services’. 1-on-1 Physiotherapy and Acupuncture can be billed under ‘Physiotherapy services’. Massage services can be billed under ‘Massage Therapy.’ Please refer to your specific health plan/insurance carrier for more detailed information with respect to your coverage.