Knee Arthritis literally means inflammation of the knee joint. Inflammation is a protective reaction of your body to injury, damage or a disease-causing microbe. The most common type of Knee Arthritis is called Osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative condition where the natural protective cushion of the knee -the cartilage (which also acts as a shock absorber for the bones) wears away gradually exposing the bone underneath and reduces the space between the bones in the joint and sometimes causes growth of bone spurs. When a person walks, runs, climbs stairs or bears weight the bones of the joint rub more closely against one another. This rubbing causes pain, stiffness, warmth, reduced movement and decreased strength in the muscles around the knee.
What causes Knee Osteoarthritis?
1) Age-related degeneration (usually 45 years and above)
2) Being over-weight : increases the load on the knee joint
4) Gender : Women are more likely to develop OA than men
5) Repetitive Stress Injuries : jobs that strain the knees repeatedly or athletes who over stress their knees without precaution. This could trigger the onset of Arthritis at a younger age.
How is Knee Arthritis diagnosed?
Your Physiotherapist or Doctor will suspect signs of arthritis from how you explain your knee symptoms and conduct a series of tests to confirm. An X-Ray can confirm and establish the severity of the arthritis.
What is the treatment for Knee Arthritis?As it is a degenerative condition, it progresses gradually.
1) Physiotherapy treatment improves the symptoms (i.e pain, swelling, stiffness) and you will find a positive difference within one or a few sessions.
2) Supportive knee braces
3) Medications: pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, supplements, hyaluronic acid, etc advised by your Doctor
4) Conservative Home and Work Knee Care as advised by your Physiotherapist.
6) Post Operative ExercisePhysiotherapy
Tips to Stay Pain Free with Arthritis:
1) Reduce your Weight. Losing even a small amount of weight can have a dramatic reduction in your knee pain as it reduces the load on your joint.
2) If your pain is aggravated pain due to cold weather or after a strenuous activity, use hot compress packs, take rest and massage with topical anti-inflammatory ointments or oils for a few days.
3) Exercise: Cycling, Swimming and Aquatic Pool-based exercises are the best exercises to strengthen the knees and reduce pain as your body weight has a low impact on the knees in these exercises. Walking and running are more high-impact knee straining exercises for arthritis. Exercises can make it easier for you to walk, bend your knees and climb stairs. Your Physio can teach you several useful exercises which are specifically for Arthritis that can be highly beneficial and help in delaying or preventing the need for surgery. Avoid sitting with full knee bending for prolonged duration.
4) Wear good quality sports shoes. The shock absorption effect of good shoes can cushion your knee from the stress of a hard ground surface.
5) Stay active, always in motion and stay positive. Continue with your daily activities, walk, work and stay busy to manage your symptoms mentally. You are not supposed to stay in rest. If you take rest you will find yourself focusing on the pain, the stiffness increases and strength decreases making it a vicious cycle. Staying in motion will also strengthen your joint.
To get a more detailed and specific treatment and exercise plan visit your Physiotherapist for a Consultation.