Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition characterised by local inflammation and structural change, and is associated with pain and loss of function. It is the most common chronic joint disorder affecting at least 19% of adults aged 45 years or older. The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis has almost doubled in the last 20 years and it was initially believed that it was due to an ageing population and obesity, but is has become apparent that it is potentially more preventable than was first believed.
Once knee osteoarthritis starts, a vicious cycle develops. Pain leads to an unwillingness to move, which decreases joint circulation, mobility and metabolic processes. This leads to thinner cartilage and weaker muscles that are responsible for protecting the joint.
Research has shown that exercise therapy reverses this cycle leading to decreased pain, increased activity and mobility, increased circulation and stronger muscles, improved mood and motivation. Therefore, having knee pain does not mean that you should stop exercising but rather that your programme needs to be altered to avoid exacerbating the knee pain. The exercise therapy should be supervised and be of sufficient dose and duration, 2-3 times a week, and supplemented with a home programme. If necessary, anti-inflammatories and analgesics can be used for a short period of time but these should be reduced as the pain lessens. In advanced cases of knee osteoarthritis referral to an orthopaedic specialist maybe necessary.
So, don’t let a painful knee interfere with your level of activity. Seek advice and guidance to get the pain under control and keep moving.
For more information contact our physiotherapists at West Physiotherapy on 021 671 5300 or visit https://www.celiasmith.co.za/
ARTICLE BY: CELIA SMITH-WEST PHYSIOTHERAPY