Osteoarthritis can affect any joint like the knee, hip, shoulder, fingers and toes but the most common of all is the knee. Osteoarthritis is basically wear and tear or degenerative changes in the joint due to the mechanical stress on the joint. And, knee joints have to withstand the extreme force that our body weight, twisting, turning, running, walking and jumping put through it daily.
Why are Knees Prone to Osteoarthritis?
The bones that form our joints are covered in a smooth tissue called cartilage. And due to the ongoing mechanical stress, this cartilage becomes thinner and roughened and then the bone underneath is exposed slowly and becomes thicker and sometimes the bone at the edge of the joints grows outwards forming bony spurs called osteophytes. Risk factors that may contribute to degenerative changes include: Age more than 40-45 years, previous joint injury or surgery, obesity or over weight, repetitive stress through the joint, etc.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Some of the main symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are: pain, swelling, stiffness and creaking or grinding. There are many different ways to manage these symptoms and a few of them being:
1. Be active and keep your knees moving: Maintaining your joint range of motion and strength is integral to a fully functioning knee. To maintain the range of motion of the knees you could start with just bending and straightening your knee regularly throughout day. This can be done in the bed before going to sleep and getting out of the bed in the morning, sitting at the desk at your work, sitting and watching television or even sitting at the dinner table. These would further help with decreasing the stiffness and swelling.
2. Maintaining knee strength: It is very important to strengthen the muscles that surround the knee joint and keep them strong to off load the knee joint to avoid or prevent further damage or wear and tear of the joint. There are many strengthening exercises that can be done but it is critical to handpick the exercises that are appropriate to your current knee status.
3. Managing pain: You can use hot or cold packs for pain relief or speak to your doctor about different forms of pain relief you may be able to use.
4. Being fit and healthy: Keeping an eye on your cardiovascular fitness and weight is important as well. If unable to do regular exercises due to pain, start with low impact walking, cycling or pool exercises which would decrease the impact or stress off of your knees.
While the structural changes of arthritis cannot be reversed, the symptoms and related functional limitations can be minimized. We are happy to help you improve your joint health so can you continue to do what you love to do. Call Life Force Physio at 416-207-9395
Life Force Physio is a local physiotherapy clinic serving Etobicoke and Mississauga (Toronto). Our team of Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists and Kinesiologists is passionate in their level of care, and believes better health is an achievable goal for everyone. We run a Physiotherapist Supervised Gym designed to support your healing, rehabilitation and ongoing fitness safely and at your pace. Located at Burnhamthorpe Rd and The West Mall.