What is knee osteoarthritis?
Knee osteoarthritis is a condition affecting the cartilage in the knee joint. Cartilage covers the ends of the bones providing a smooth surface for the joint to glide across when we bend and straighten our knees. Osteoarthritis can cause the cartilage to wear thin and develop cracks, exposing the underlying bone. This reduces the smoothness of the joint leading to pain and stiffness in the knee. It is common for symptoms of knee osteoarthritis to fluctuate in duration and intensity.
Common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include:
- Stiffness in the morning or after prolonged sitting
- Pain with prolonged periods of walking or standing
- Difficulty with activities such as going up and down stairs
- Knee joint swelling
- Clicking, clunking, crunching or catching within the joint
- Reduced joint flexibility
- A feeling of unsteadiness
- Feeling of weakness in the surrounding muscles, particularly the front of the thigh
Severe knee osteoarthritis currently affects more than 56,000 Australians. This number is expected to rise to 69,000 by 2029. All too often knee joint replacement surgery is seen as the only option for treatment of this debilitating condition. However, research recently completed by Monash and Latrobe Universities found that a structured physiotherapy-led program can help up to 68% of people avoid surgery. This study is adding to the growing evidence that structured and consistent physiotherapy leads to the best outcomes for knee osteoarthritis.
Your physiotherapist can help you understand what osteoarthritis is and develop an individualized program to manage and prevent symptoms. This begins with our Free Initial Assessment where we will take a detailed history and go through a thorough physical assessment to guide the best course of treatment for you.
Treatment for knee osteoarthritis can include:
- Education and advice on what to do and things that should be avoided
- Exercises to build up strength and endurance of the surrounding muscles
- Manual therapy techniques for pain relief and to improve joint movement
If you have further questions about knee osteoarthritis, please give us a call on 03 6237 0045 and book your Free Initial Assessment! We can help you.
Written by Liam Perryman (MPhysio, BExSc, APAM)