KNEE PAIN - IS IT ARTHRITIS?
Many clients come to me and say "I have cranky old knees!".
This is often followed by "My doctor ordered XRays and it showed I had degeneration, arthritis and wear and tear in my knees". Sometimes they have even been told they have the dreaded 'bone on bone'!
This is all sounds pretty depressing doesn't it! Most people then naturally ask two questions:
Will I be able to get better?
Will I ever be able to be active again?
If this is you, fortunately there is some good news! Let me explain why.
Knee arthritis (or osteoarthritis) is one of the most common joint conditions due to the knees role as a weight bearing joint in the body. In all our major joints we have cartilage, which is a protective structure which aims to cushion our bones against the adjoining bone. As our joints get older this cushioning like structure progressively wears out which affects its ability to prevent our bones rubbing together.
The vast majority of people will have ‘degeneration’ or ‘decreased joint space’ on their X-rays. This is because it is NORMAL to have these findings as you get older – it is the equivalent of someone having wrinkles on their forehead. The interesting thing is that some people with knee arthritis will develop pain, however many people will not. This is why X-rays are not the be all and end all when it comes to making a proper diagnosis and determining your ability to get better.
Some of the most common symptoms for knee osteoarthritis include:
Pain that comes on slowly over weeks or months (ie doesn't happen after one specific incident like a fall)
Stiffness around the knee joint
Swelling of the knee joint
Clicking of the joint
Morning pain in the knee that gets better with movement
Loss of normal knee movement
Pain with weight bearing activities like walking, squatting or going up and down stairs
Now this all sounds terrible, and I bet you are all sitting reading this dreading the days your knees get to this state. But trust me, their are solutions to your problems (and most of the time it does not require surgery!)
There is no magical cure for pain caused by knee arthritis, however there are several ways in which the pain can be eliminated.
The best form of management for knee osteoarthritis is through conservative management. This means going and seeing either a physiotherapist or osteopath in order to get a proper diagnosis and then most importantly the appropriate treatment.
Your therapist will evaluate your knee and its current state by assessing its level of swelling, its range of movement and most importantly how the pain levels affect your day to day life and function. From this information the therapist will provide you with several strategies to start to get on top of the problem which may include:
Exercise has consistently proven to be one of the most beneficial forms of management for knee osteoarthritis. Your therapist will aim to eliminate any present swelling from the knee through the use of hands on techniques as well as prescribing exercises you can do at home like:
Knee strengthening exercises
Hip and core strengthening
If you are looking to get back to your running and previous exercises routines, your therapist will modify your current training plan if required and give you a structured program that progressively gets you back to your goals!
Education and lifestyle modifications
Your therapist will educate you around methods to help best manage your pain. This may include:
Modification of normal exercise
Tips and tricks to avoid positions which may aggravate your knee
Advice regarding optimising sleep
Managing stress levels
So if you do have knee pain caused by arthritis then remember, there is no need to panic. It does not mean that surgery is your only option and most importantly it does not need to stop you from doing all the things that you love doing. There are many things that can be done to solve your knee pain problems so you can get back to living your life!
If you have knee pain or arthritis issues and would like to chat to one of our friendly Physio's or Osteo's about what options there are for you to manage the condition, feel free to contact us on (03) 5872 2221 and we will be happy to chat.
Until next time, keep on moving! 😀