Knee Osteoarthritis (Knee OA)

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive disorder of joints due to a gradual wear and tear of the cartilage. Cartilage is a natural cushioning covering the ends of the bones. It is tough but flexible and protects the bone at the joint. As a result of this wear and tear, bony spurs and cysts can develop at the knee joint causing normal functions of the knee to be affected.

What Causes Knee Osteoarthritis?

The cause of osteoarthritis is not completely known. However, it is felt to be degenerative in nature and occurs along with degeneration of other body tissues, which is all part of the ageing process. This condition is very common and some figures estimate that nearly 90% of all people over the age of sixty years show some signs of osteoarthritis. While the exact causes of Knee OA vary from individual to individual, risk factors for developing this condition include the following:

  1. Inherited abnormalities in the shape of the bones that surround the knee joint.
  2. Increasing Age
  3. Females
  4. Excess body mass
  5. Previous joint or sports injury to the knee
  6. Occupations that involve excess loading of the knee
  7. Metabolic disorder (e.g. Gout, Rheumatoid arthritis)

How do I know if I have Knee Osteoarthritis?

The common signs and symptoms include

  • Recurring pain in knee
  • Knee stiffness especially in the morning or after a period of rest.
  • Knee swelling and warmth
  • Decreased mobility and functional ability of the knee making it difficult to perform daily activities like stairs climbing, getting in and out of car and getting up from a chair.
  • Grinding noises in knee
  • Deformities in the form of bow legs and knocked knees
  • X-ray showing reduced joint space and degeneration

How can Physiotherapy help with Knee Osteoarthritis?

In mild to moderate Knee Osteoarthritis, research has shown benefits of prescribing physiotherapy to manage this condition. Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists are able to reduce the symptoms of pain and stiffness by administering manual therapy to improve the mobility in the knee joint. Depending on the severity of the condition, physiotherapists can also help to improve the flexibility of the muscles around the knee. This will in turn reduce the load on the joint and allow the patient to function better with daily activities. A customised strengthening programme can also be prescribed after performing a gait analysis (analysing how the patient walk) to strengthen muscle in the hips and lower limbs to improve the efficiency of walking. If there are physical abnormalities in the shape of the bones causing abnormal loading of the knee joint, our physiotherapists can also refer on to The Sole Clinic’s podiatrists to make customised insoles for the patient.