The Role Physical Therapy Plays In The Process
Physical therapy is definitely beneficial. Improving range of motion and strength in the knee are helpful, but physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis has a large focus on strengthening the hips, explains Dr. Day.
Weak hips put more pressure on the knees. If your hips are strong, when you get up from a chair or go up and down stairs your knees have less work to do.
Everyone with knee osteoarthritis should consult a physical therapist, according to Dr. Day. Not only will you be taught the right kinds of exercises, a physical therapist also provides valuable instruction about using assistive devices and modifying activities to reduce pain.
Physical Therapy For Knee Osteoarthritis
Strengthening Exercises and Other Osteoarthritis Treatments
Physical therapy can be your first line of defense for managing knee OA symptoms.
Having knee osteoarthritis can sometimes seem like a double-edge sword. Overusing your knees can worsen your joint health and knee OA, but the less you move your knees, the weaker they can get. You need to find that balance of keeping your knee joints moving just enough so they’re strong and healthy, and physical therapy helps you do that.
With knee OA, the muscles surrounding the knee can become weak, and the knee joints can become stiff. This makes it difficult to do everyday tasks, such as walking or getting out of bed.
Physical therapy can help to reduce the pain, swelling, and stiffness of knee osteoarthritis, and it can help improve knee joint function. It can also make it easier for you to walk, bend, kneel, squat, and sit. In fact, a 2000 study found that a combination of manual physical therapy and supervised exercise has functional benefits for patients with knee osteoarthritis and may delay or prevent the need for surgery.1
Common Passive Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis
Common Active Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis
Both strengthening and flexibility exercises are important to do because they can help take strain off the knee. Learn more about exercise for knee osteoarthritis in our article about exercising to manage knee osteoarthritis.
Risk Factors For Knee Pain
Anyone with knees can have knee pain, but there are some risk factors that increase your chances. Carrying extra weight is a primary risk factor, as is having a job that places lots of stress on the knees. Professional athletes and enthusiastic amateurs alike are all at risk of knee pain due to wear-and-tear and injury also.
Other risk factors include:
- Lack of flexibility or strength in supporting muscles
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Best Topical Cream For Arthritis Pain
You can purchase over-the-counter arthritis pain products without a prescription, but you should still consult your medical provider before using any product for the first time, especially if you are experiencing severe pain. Over-the-counter medications can cause side effects, may interfere with other medicines that you take and could pose a risk for health complications if you have certain conditions. Your health care provider can help you decide which over-the-counter pain relief products for arthritis are the best match for your needs. Always follow the directions for use provided by the manufacturer unless a health care professional gives you other advice.
The Mayo Clinic Experience And Patient Stories
We have had many patients who say that the quality of our interactions in our office is superior to any other. View the stories from happy Mayo Clinics patients and their families.
During surgery, Jesse Stewart had been unable to explain why his seven orthopedic surgeries were not improving his quality of life. After going to the Mayo Clinic, Jesse found the answers and had surgery to fix the problem. Reibels medical staff has relied heavily on Mayo Clinic since 1995.
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Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Knee: Popular Supplements Dont Work
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting 1 in 10 Canadian adults . The knee is one of the most common and most symptomatically affected joints, causing knee pain in many people. They often try over-the-counter remedies to help the pain, and to avoid knee surgery. Amongst these treatments are the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are very popular.
Because glucosamine and chondroitin are building blocks of cartilage, and because osteoarthritis is related to cartilage degradation, many believe that adding these building blocks to the diet of a person suffering from osteoarthritis will help rebuild cartilage and lessen pain. While on the surface this may seem logical, in reality these supplements do not provide effective pain relief. Heres why:
These popular supplements dont work.
Many studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate do not help to relieve pain from arthritic knees. People who take the supplements often report less pain or swelling of their joints. But people get similar results if they take a placeboa sugar pill with no active ingredients. Pain relieving drugs, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen , help a lot more.
The supplements can be dangerous.
You arent always getting what you think.
To make matters worse, often the labels on the bottles are misleading. In 2013, Consumer Reports tested 16 joint pain supplements and found that seven had less chondroitin than the label listed.
Use drugs carefully.
Causes Of Knee Arthritis And Pain
The most common cause of pain is knee osteoarthritis. Known as a wear-and-tear disease, osteoarthritis occurs as the knee joint gets used over time. The structures that once supported and eased movement may begin to wear out, causing knee pain with movement.
Other common causes of knee pain include the following:
- Injury: Injury such as torn ligaments and tendons, bone fractures, bursitis, and tendinitis can cause knee pain both at rest and during activity.
- Mechanical problems: Mechanical problems occur when something in the joint fails. This might include dislocated kneecap, iliotibial band syndrome, or a foreign body in the joint .
- Other forms of arthritis: There are over 100 forms of arthritis, many of which can cause knee arthritis pain. In addition to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and septic arthritis can cause knee pain.
Finally, a less common cause of knee pain is patellofemoral pain syndrome. This pain between the patella and the femur is most often seen in young athletes but can develop as a consequence of arthritis in the kneecap.
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Who Gets Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. While it can occur even in young people, the chance of developing osteoarthritis rises after age 45. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected areas. Women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men.
Do: Maintain A Healthy Weight Which Eases Stress On Your Knee Joints
Excess weight puts greater pressure or stress on your already damaged knees, Pisetsky explains. If you’re overweight, losing weight can relieve knee pain and even slow down the rate of cartilage degeneration, according to a study in the August 2017 issue of Radiology. The research showed that the more weight participants lost, the greater their improvements were. If youre overweight, weight loss can help with knee pain, Pisetsky emphasizes.
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Nstride Autologous Protein Solution
The nSTRIDE APS injection treatment is designed to alleviate pain and bring balance back to your inflamed knee joint by introducing high levels of good proteins concentrated from your own blood. These good proteins can block the bad proteins responsible for the inflammatory condition in your joint. At the same time, nSTRIDE APS also concentrates growth factors which are beneficial for cartilage health.
Cortisone Shots In The Knee Do They Really Work
Are you considering getting cortisone shots in your knee? Although cortisone injections have been used for the past fifty years, some physicians are concerned that they may have adverse long-term side effects. Despite this, many patients experience significant pain relief from corticosteroid shots depending on your circumstances this treatment may be right for you.
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Is Surgery Used To Treat Knee Osteoarthritis
If your doctor wants to treat the osteoarthritis in the knee with surgery, the options are arthroscopy, osteotomy, and arthroplasty.
- Arthroscopy uses a small telescope and other small instruments. The surgery is performed through small incisions. The surgeon uses the arthroscope to see into the joint space. Once there, the surgeon can remove damaged cartilage or loose particles, clean the bone surface, and repair other types of tissue if those damages are discovered. The procedure is often used on younger patients in order to delay more serious surgery.
- An osteotomy is a procedure that aims to make the knee alignment better by changing the shape of the bones. This type of surgery may be recommended if you have damage primarily in one area of the knee. It might also be recommended if you have broken your knee and it has not healed well. An osteotomy is not permanent, and further surgery may be necessary later on.
- Joint replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which joints are replaced with artificial parts made from metals or plastic. The replacement could involve one side of the knee or the entire knee. Joint replacement surgery is usually reserved for people over age 50 with severe osteoarthritis. The surgery may need to be repeated later if the prosthetic joint wears out after several years. But with today’s modern advancements, most new joints will last over 20 years. The surgery has risks, but the results are generally very good.
Gradual Increase In Pain
Arthritis pain usually starts slowly, although it can appear suddenly in some cases.
At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after youve been inactive for a while.
Your knees may hurt when you:
- climb stairs
- stand up from a sitting position
- walk on a flat surface
- sit down for a while
Knee pain that wakes you up from sleep can be a symptom of OA.
For people with RA, the symptoms often start in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The joint may be warm and red.
With OA, symptoms may progress rapidly or they may develop over several years, depending on the individual. Symptoms can worsen and then remain stable for a long time, and they can vary day to day.
Factors that may cause worsening of symptoms include:
- cold weather
- excessive activity
With RA, symptoms usually appear over several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a few days. A flare can happen when disease activity increases. Triggers vary and can include changes in medication.
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Is Knee Pain Due To Gout Or Something Else
Most people with gout in the knee experience intense pain during a gout attack. Swelling may also be noticeable during an active flare, as well as redness and warmth.
The pain may develop in the night and hurt continuously for up to two weeks before the flare subsides, with the most intense pain in the first 24 hours. But if gout is not treated, typically with medication to lower uric acid levels, gout flares will recur and over time and affect more joints, including the knee.
Doctors cant say for sure why gout flares occur more often at night but, according to a 2015 study, it might be because your body temperature goes down at night, which could make uric acid more likely to crystallize.
Although the pain of a gout attack is distinct, there may be other reasons for your knee pain you should be aware of.
Your knee pain could be caused by buildup of different kinds of crystals called calcium pyrophosphate . Doctors can examine fluid in your inflamed knee to determine if the crystals are uric acid or calcium pyrophosphate.
What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
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Arthritis In The Knee: What You Need To Know
Arthritis Knee pain may cause walking. Swelling pain or stiffness in joints is a common symptom when people get this disease. The knee joints are hinged joints named for their movement reminiscent of opening a door.
It has 3 major bones. Where there are two bone types, the bones are covered by cartilage. A further piece of cartilage called the meniscus supports the knee. This protective piece of cartilage keeps bones from pulling on each other. Having that happen can be painful.
Articles On Knee Osteoarthritis
While age is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knee, young people can get it, too. For some individuals, it may be hereditary. For others, osteoarthritis of the knee can result from injury or infection or even from being overweight. Here are answers to your questions about knee osteoarthritis, including how it’s treated and what you can do at home to ease the pain.
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Do: Take Medications As Prescribed
Over-the-counter or prescription-strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are among the mainstays of knee osteoarthritis treatment, Pisetsky says. While effective, they do come with their share of side effects, he explains. We typically tell patients to take them as needed for pain but emphasize that theyre not used to slow disease progression, he says.
Other treatments are also available to help relieve knee pain, stiffness, and swelling, including analgesics such as acetaminophen and injections of corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid into the joints. While corticosteroid injections are commonly performed, their long-term effects are still under investigation. Using heat and cold therapy can also help relieve symptoms try moist heat for joint stiffness and ice for joint pain and swelling, says Wyss. Just be sure to work with your doctor to develop the best treatment strategy for you.
Is Walking Good For Knee Arthritis
Although it may seem counterintuitive, walking can help decrease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. In addition, any form of exercise that helps you maintain a healthy weight can reduce the stress on your joints, and this may slow the progression of your arthritis. You should, however, consult a doctor to confirm that your knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis rather than by an injury for which resting would be appropriate. A physical therapist can help determine appropriate levels of exercise for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
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What Type Of Doctor Treats Knee Arthritis
Osteoarthritis of the knee may be treated by a sports medicine physician or an orthopedic surgeon, depending on your particular condition. A physical therapist may be able to treat less severe cases to help reduce pain and increase your mobility. If you knee pain is a result of rheumatoid arthritis, gout or other form of inflammatory arthritis, you should consult a rheumatologist.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are many signs and symptoms of arthritis of the knee:
- Creaking, clicking, grinding or snapping noises .
- Difficulty walking.
- Joint pain that changes depending on the weather.
- Joint stiffness.
- Knee joint pain that progresses slowly or pain that happens suddenly.
- Skin redness.
- Your knee locks or sticks when its trying to move.
- Warm skin.
Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of arthritis of the knee. Some treatments might reduce the severity of your symptoms or even stall the progression. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of knee arthritis.
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The Arthritis Vicious Circle
A vicious cycle often develops with arthritis knee pain. Arthritis in the knee causes pain so you stop moving the knee as much. As a result the knee gets stiffer and you lose more movement.
Then when you try and move the knee, it hurts more, so you stop using it and the cycle continues. The same goes for the strength of the knee.
If activities start feeling painful, we tend to avoid them, but then the muscles get weaker. As a result they cant support the joint and more weight ends up going through the bones rather than the muscles and things get more painful. Yet another vicious cycle.
This is why exercises are one of the best arthritis treatment options. Muscles stay strong by being used.
People often find they go through good spells and bad spells with arthritis in the knee. Stress and tiredness often makes things worse and some people swear that bad weather causes arthritis in the knee to flare up.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee
It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:
- Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
- What type of arthritis do I have?
- Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- What medications should I take?
- Do I need physical therapy?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.
Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.
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