Knee arthritis is one of the fastest growing orthopedic problems in the United States. People are living longer today than ever. In fact people live so long, their joints can’t keep up, which is the main factor behind why so many people have knee arthritis or will have it in the future.
Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage in the joint that protects the bones connecting the knee. In addition, the breakdown of this cartilage leads to bony build up on the edges of the bones, leading to increased joint inflammation, clicking and grinding, and a whole lot of pain.
Does knee arthritis only occur in one spot of the knee?
Knee arthritis can happen in three places:
- Patellofemoral joint (underneath the knee cap)
- Medial tibiofemoral joint (inside of the knee joint)
- Lateral tibiofemoral joint (outside of the knee joint)
The most common area of these three is the inside of the knee joint. As this joint breaks down, the knee can become deformed, causing the person to become bow-legged.
So is my knee pain because of my arthritis?
But the pain from knee arthritis does not directly come from a deformity, or bone rubbing on bone. Sure, this stuff contributed to the pain, but really the pain comes from joint inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to heal damage done to it. But, as the damage continues to happen more and more, inflammation can become a hindrance and limits knee function.
Remember, too, that joint inflammation is not the only thing that can cause knee pain. Nerve irritation, muscle irritation, etc. can ALSO contribute to pain in the knee. Therefore, it's important to have all systems evaluated to determine what is most likely contributing to your pain and address that system.
My knee pain is related to knee arthritis. What can I do?
Here are some things we recommend for anyone wanting to decrease their knee inflammation:
- Consult a nutritionist about anti-inflammatory diet, or weight loss if needed to a healthy BMI
- RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate above the heart) whenever possible
- Low-impact motion of the knee; ex: light bicycle, water aerobics
- Consider bracing to support the knee during walking
- Low-impact strengthening protocol to surrounding muscles of the knee
Can physical therapy help for knee arthritis?
Physical Therapy is a MUST for knee arthritis. Yes, we’re biased, we know. But we can’t tell you how many patients have come in with a knee replacement and haven’t even tried conservative management. Putting off surgery, by even a year, can pay huge dividends later on in your life. Let us show you how we can help.
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