Osteoarthritis of the knee is a degeneration of the tibiofemoral or patellofemoral joint due to use and overuse of the knee joint. The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis has been increasing in the middle age and older adult population. A high percentage of those over the age of 50 have evidence of arthritis on an X-ray, however, not everyone with radiographic evidence of arthritis experiences symptoms of arthritis. Often times diagnostic imaging does not correlate with a patient's symptoms. Some people with severe arthritis do not experience symptoms, and others with minimal arthritis experience significant pain and disability. Treatment is directed at specific symptom exacerbation and dysfunction of the body, not directed at what an X-ray may show.
Risk factors for OA:
increased use of the knee and stress overtime
cartilage change with age
for every extra pound of weight being carried there is ~4x the amount of force placed on the knee joint
more muscle mass vs fat mass helps offset the load
History of previous injury to knee
Damage to the meniscus increases the stress on the tibiofemoral joint and leads to more wear and tear quicker
Hip stiffness and inflexibility
Causes more rotational forces and valgus/varus deformity at the knee joint
Creates more stress on the joint rather than allowing muscle to absorb the force
How physical therapy can help
Physical therapy will not cure arthritis. There is no amount of rehab that will change the degeneration that has already happened within the joint. The only true "cure" for knee osteoarthritis is a knee replacement. HOWEVER, physical therapy is effective at improving flexibility, strength and movement patterns to reduce the symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis and degeneration of the joint. Many people who receive therapy for arthritis are able to prolong the need for a joint replacement, sometimes for years. Additionally, if you believe a joint replacement is your best option, physical therapy prior to surgery has been shown to improve your outcomes following your replacement (please see the "knee replacement" tab for further information).
New Patients are Always Welcome!
The doctors at F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic in Overland Park & Shawnee, Kansas and Lees Summit, Missouri are here to help lessen and relieve your pain. Do not hesitate; contact us today for leading evidence-based assessments and treatments for your musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.