How Physiotherapy Can Help Manage Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative joint disease affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly those over the age of 50 years. Many people turn to physiotherapy as the first treatment option to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. There are many causes of knee OA and causes differ from person to person. Several factors are known to contribute to someone developing knee OA, including age, genetics, how we move, extra body weight, previous joint injury, inflammatory and disease. It is characterised by cartilage degeneration, joint space narrowing, and bone spur formation, which can lead to feelings of pain, stiffness, and a loss of movement or ability to do things like run, jump or even household chores like cleaning. 

As physiotherapists, our primary goal is to help patients with knee OA manage their symptoms and improve their function. The good news is that there are several things we can do to help achieve this goal. Did you know that exercise is considered the best and most effective first step in managing OA? It should always come before the use of medication or surgery. A number of research studies have shown that exercise can reduce pain and improve movement in people with knee OA (1). Specifically, a combination of cardio exercise, strength exercise, and flexibility training has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving movement (2). Exercise can also improve muscle strength, which is crucial for joint stability and protection (3).

Weight management is another crucial aspect of knee OA management. Excess body weight can increase the load and stress on the knee joint, leading to cartilage damage and pain. Several studies have demonstrated that weight loss can improve pain, function, and quality of life in people with knee OA (4). In most people a reduction of just 10% of their body weight can lead to being pain free.

In addition to exercise therapy and weight management, other interventions, such as hands-on physiotherapy, taping, and the use of a knee brace, may also provide benefits for people with knee OA. Research has shown that hands-on physiotherapy, can reduce pain and improve function in people with knee OA (6). Taping and bracing may also provide short-term pain relief and improve function (7).

It is important to note that physiotherapy should be tailored to each individual patient’s needs and goals. For example, a patient with knee OA who is highly active may require a different exercise program than someone who maybe hasn’t exercised in a while. Additionally, other factors such as any other injuries or illnesses you might have, medication use, and lifestyle factors should also be taken into consideration when developing a treatment plan.

Knee OA is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. However, research has shown that physiotherapy interventions can help manage symptoms and improve function. As physiotherapists, we highly recommend exercise therapy, weight management, and other interventions such as manual therapy, taping, and bracing for people with knee OA. If you have knee pain or suspect you may have knee OA, here are SiSU we can help. We have a team of physiotherapists who are able to assess and treat your knee pain. We can develop and individualised exercise program for you that you can do at home, under the supervision of a physio or personal trainer here at SiSU or you could even join one of our group classes. 

References:

  1. Uthman OA, van der Windt DA, Jordan JL, et al. Exercise for lower limb osteoarthritis: systematic review incorporating trial sequential analysis and network meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013;347:f5555.
  2. Bennell KL, Hinman RS. A review of the clinical evidence for exercise in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. J Sci Med Sport. 2011;14(1):4-9.
  3. Fransen M, McConnell S, Harmer AR, Van der Esch M, Simic M, Bennell KL. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;1(1):CD004376.
  4. Zhang W, Nuki G, Moskowitz RW, et al. OARSI recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis, part II: OARSI evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008;16(2):137-62.

How Physiotherapy Can Help Manage Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative joint disease affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly those over the age of 50 years. Many people turn to physiotherapy as the first treatment option to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. The exact cause of knee OA is multifactorial and complex. Several factors are known to contribute to its development, including age, genetics, how we move, extra body weight, previous joint injury, inflammatory and metabolic causes. It is characterised by cartilage degeneration, joint space narrowing, and bone spur formation, leading to pain, stiffness, and functional disability. 

As physiotherapists, our primary goal is to help patients with knee OA manage their symptoms and improve their function. The good news is that there are several things we can do to help achieve this goal. Did you know that exercise is considered the best and most effective first step in managing OA? It should always come before the use of medication or surgery. A number of academic studies and reviews have demonstrated that exercise therapy can reduce pain and improve physical function in people with knee OA (1). Specifically, a combination of aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and flexibility training has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving function (2). Exercise therapy can also improve muscle strength, which is crucial for joint stability and protection (3).

Weight management is another crucial aspect of knee OA management. Excess body weight can increase mechanical stress on the knee joint, leading to cartilage damage and pain. Several studies have demonstrated that weight loss can improve pain, function, and quality of life in people with knee OA (4). 

In addition to exercise therapy and weight management, other interventions, such as manual therapy, taping, and bracing, may also provide benefits for people with knee OA. Research has demonstrated that manual therapy, including joint mobilisation and manipulation, can reduce pain and improve function in people with knee OA (6). Taping and bracing may also provide short-term pain relief and improve function (7).

It is important to note that physiotherapy should be tailored to each individual patient’s needs and goals. For example, a patient with knee OA who is highly active may require a different exercise program than a sedentary patient. Additionally, other factors such as any injuries or illnesses you might have, medications you use, and the life style you live should also be taken into consideration when developing a treatment plan.

Knee OA is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. However, research has shown that physiotherapy interventions can help manage symptoms and improve function. As physiotherapists, we highly recommend exercise therapy, weight management, and other interventions such as manual therapy, taping, and bracing for people with knee OA. If you have knee pain or suspect you may have knee OA, here are SiSU we can help. We have a team of physiotherapists who are able to assess and treat your knee pain. We can develop an individualised exercise program for you that you can do at home, under the supervision of a physiotherapist or personal trainer here at SiSU or you could even join one of our group classes. 

References:

  1. Uthman OA, van der Windt DA, Jordan JL, et al. Exercise for lower limb osteoarthritis: systematic review incorporating trial sequential analysis and network meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013;347:f5555.
  2. Bennell KL, Hinman RS. A review of the clinical evidence for exercise in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. J Sci Med Sport. 2011;14(1):4-9.
  3. Fransen M, McConnell S, Harmer AR, Van der Esch M, Simic M, Bennell KL. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;1(1):CD004376.
  4. Zhang W, Nuki G, Moskowitz RW, et al. OARSI recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis, part II: OARSI evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008;16(2):137-62.
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