Osteoarthritis(OA) is by far the most common form of arthritis with approximately one third of people over the age of 45 having sought treatment for osteoarthritic changes. Specifically knee OA is thought to afflict one in 5 adults of the same age range, making it the most common joint affected by the condition, which isn’t too surprising considering it is the largest joint in the body, and we demand so much from our knees, both in sport and on a day to day basis.
When your knee has OA it’s surfaces become damaged, the cartilage thins and the bone underneath spreads and broadens, leading to the formation of spurs which can limit the function of the joint. The capsule and ligaments thicken and contract and the soft tissues become more active as if they’re attempting to heal, which further restricts the movement and stability of the joint. These changes around the knee are partly the inflammatory response and partly the body’s attempts to repair. Frequently it’ll succeed and there won’t be much pain or loss of function, however, sometimes it won’t be so successful and it can lead to further imbalance and structural deformity.
Depending on the severity there are a variety of treatment options. The vast majority of pain felt with mild and moderate knee OA is surprisingly due to soft tissue changes, which can be greatly reduced with Physiotherapy and massage. The hamstrings and adductors brace in an attempt to stabilise the knee, however as there is no ‘off switch’ to tell them to stop, they just get tighter and tighter until they’re stretched, loosened off or massaged. Your quads which are the main stabiliser of your knees are inhibited by the structural changes, meaning they provide less support and absorb less shock than normal. This coupled with the ligamentous changes that occur, destabilises the knee, meaning it is vital to strengthen and stabilise the muscles around the joint, as they need to support it more than ever!
If you are suffering from knee pain and would like an assessment from one of our Physiotherapists then please contact us on 0131 241 1833 or book online today.