Knee osteoarthritis (knee OA) is inflammation and degeneration of the knee joint. The entire knee joint may be effected including bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles.
Symptoms of knee arthritis include:
- Worsening pain during or following activity, particularly with walking, climbing, or descending stairs, or moving from a sitting to standing position
- Pain or stiffness after sitting with the knee bent or straight for a prolonged period of time
- A feeling of popping, cracking, or grinding when moving the knee
- Swelling following activity
- Tenderness to touch along the knee joint
Some factors that contribute to knee arthritis body mass index (BMI), bone structure, genetics, strength, and activity level. Knee arthritis may also develop following a traumatic knee injury. However, some degenerative change is part of the normal aging progress and should be expected after age 45. In the most cases, knee arthritis can be managed with physical therapy. However, severe or advanced cases may require surgery.
Some movements that can be painful in the presence of knee arthritis include running walking, steps, squats, and lunges. In addition, there may be increased symptoms first thing in the morning or after a prolonged bout of sitting (i.e. when the joint and muscles are stiff and inactive).
In our physical therapy office, the first recommendation that we usually make is to take a short break from any aggravating activity on the knee. This allows for an environment for acute inflammation to settle down pain to subside. While taking a break usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to get back to the activities that they enjoy, we have to address the root of the issue.
In many cases, knee arthritis is coupled with poor mobility of the hips and the ankle. This can be combined with weakness of the hip, thigh, and the buttock muscles. In addition, if there are imbalances at the core and hip muscles, the way an active person moves can be affected which may lead to faulty knee mechanics. However, the only way to know what is contributing to pain and injury is to perform a complete assessment.
When pain and stiffness is found via the assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Pain improvements can be made very quickly with restoration of knee extension. This often involves soft tissue mobilization and/or dry needling of the quadriceps and calf muscles.
If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is developing core and lower body strength. We teach our patients how to squat, lunge, and hinge without pain. When performed with good technique and without pain, these exercise can be powerful for developing strength and durability.
When addressed with a through physical therapy assessment and plan of care, knee arthritis is a condition that can be managed without medications or procedures. However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics result in excessive wear and tear of the knee. If you feel like you may be developing knee arthritis, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad help. We offer free guides on our website for the most common injuries that see. Our guide on knee pain can kickstart your recovery.
In addition, we are happy to offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your knee is affecting you and discuss your treatment options. If your needs warrant an office visit, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visits every month so we can take a look at your injury so we can provide clarity of what you’re dealing with and confidence that we can help.
Whether you decide to have care with us or another office, we want to you to get back to you active way of life. Call us at (864)-558-7346 and ask how we can help.