Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease which affects over 8 million people in the United Kingdom. The knee is one of the most commonly affected joints along with the spine, hips, hands and feet. The exact cause of OA is unknown however previous injuries or repeated stressed to the joint, during certain sports or manual tasks, can contribute.

OA causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of joint movement and muscle strength. This can lead to difficulty walking, performing daily tasks and in severe cases can prevent sleep.

What happens in an Osteoarthritic knee?

The knee joint surfaces are covered by protective cartilage which in an arthritic joint becomes rough and thins, making movement of the joint less smooth and reducing the congruence of the joint surfaces. The body response to this by trying to repair the damage by producing extra fluid in the joint, thickening of some of ligaments and in some cases extra bone is laid down at the sides of the joint. All these changes to the joint contribute to symptoms described above.

What is the treatment of Osteoarthritic knees?

Along with adequate pain medications prescribed by a General Practitioner, Physiotherapy should be a first step in the management of OA knee. Specialist Physiotherapists are highly trained and experienced in the management of the condition.

At Marple Physio all patients presenting with symptoms of arthritis are thoroughly assessed and an individualised treatment plan is matched to their needs.

Physiotherapy treatment for people with OA includes:

  • Individualised exercise programmes
  • Mobilisations of the joint
  • Massage
  • Electrotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Advice on pain management and lifestyle changes

In some cases and as the disease progresses other interventions may be required including joint injections, keyhole surgery or joint replacement. These require referral to an Orthopaedic Consultant. Referrals to Occupational therapists may also be indicated to assess and advise on aids and adaptations within the home to make daily living more comfortable and maintain people’s independence.