Use It or Lose It

Osteoarthritis affecting the knee is one of the most frequently seen conditions at the Hallamshire Physiotherapy clinic.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is characterised by a gradual loss of cartilage within the joint. It is a leading cause of chronic disability. Knee pain and stiffness can have significant effects on walking, sleeping and in a small percentage of people it can lead to joint replacement. However, there is increasing evidence that an individualised rehabilitation programme can make substantial improvements in pain levels and disability.

I think I have arthritis in my knee. What should I do now?
See your GP first as they are in the best position to manage your overall health. In the acute stage of knee pain they would probably prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers with relative rest until the acute pain reduces. It is important to maintain some movement during this phase.

My knee x-ray shows I have arthritis. Will this be the cause of my pain?
In a recent review half of all people with evidence of arthritis on their x- ray did not have symptoms, i.e no pain or stiffness. Joint changes on x- rays are very common and represent normal joint changes in response to having a joint for over 40 years.The x-ray is only part of the picture as each person with joint pain presents in a variety of ways.Why we get pain is more complicated and other factors such as how we walk, previous injuries and what we believe about our problem can all contribute to the experience of pain.

Will my arthritic knee pain get worse as I get older?
Not necessarily so. It is a common misconception that arthritic joints deteriorate as we get older.The body will always try to repair tissue damage and continue to respond to normal stresses, for example, activities such as walking, using stairs or running.

What is the best form of rehabilitation for arthritic knees?
The knee joint is a complicated joint which relies upon circulating fluid around the joint surfaces and ligaments for its nutritional health. Rehabilitation aims to restore the normal joint mechanism by increasing the range of movement and the strength of the muscles that support and knee. Additionally, learning to walk correctly so as to reduce stresses on the knee and your other joints is fundamental to long-term improvement.

Will I need a knee replacement eventually?
Not everyone with knee arthritis requires a replacement. By re-educating walking and strengthening the muscles around the knee, significant improvements are achieved regularly at Hallamshire Physiotherapy clinic. Our joints are more robust than many people think and with correct help, guidance and treatment many will improve and return to full activity.

Remember, use it or lose it.


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