Knee Osteoarthritis Part 1

Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) truth vs myth:

First things first, let’s clear up some important information about knee osteoarthritis. 

  • X-rays ARE NOT an accurate indicator of how much pain, stiffness or disability you may experience.
  • Pain DOES NOT come from the wearing down of the cartilage (the cartilage does not contain nerves).
  • Osteoarthritis pain DOES NOT always get worse with time (Osteoarthritis is not the same as ageing, it’s a condition which is worsened with inflammation).
  • Long term rest IS NOT helpful (Rest leads to muscle mass loss, which all the research points to an increase in pain).
  • Appropriate exercise WILL NOT further damage the knee joint (a lack of exercise, creates a less resilient joint and becomes more vulnerable in your day to day activities).
  • Joint replacement surgery IS NOT always needed (There is plenty of research to show managing the 4 key pillars of exercise, diet, weight and habits of mind can get you back doing the things you love without the knee pain).

The nitty gritty: What is Knee OA?  

Knee osteoarthritis is an active response whereby your body responds to small injuries in your joint. Consequently, this causes an inflammatory process that initially causes pain in your knee joint. Regaining the structural integrity in the knee generally involves a combination of things. These include reducing inflammation, weight management, improving range of motion, building strength and re-learning to stabilise the knee.

In other words, there are many treatment options for knee OA. With a good management plan conducted by an experienced health professional you can increase function, reduce pain and get back to the activities important to you.

The impact of OA on knee function:

Typically in knee OA, you may experience a loss of range of motion and knee instability, loss of muscle strength, a knee that creeks, cracks ad makes noise and difficulty with climbing stairs or squatting. 

Often knee OA wont only have a physical impact on your life. Furthermore it can also impact your mental health and lead to a lack of sleep or fatigue. It is important to seek assistance from an allied health professional if you need help to develop a plan. The key areas to manage involve:

  1. Exercise (appropriate modifications, building strength, stability and conditioning options to increase metabolic rate).
  2. Weight management.
  3. Nutrition.
  4. Mental health.
  5. Sleep.
  6. Hydration.

Pain from knee osteoarthritis, can often lead to inactivity and weight gain which can cause an increase in inflammation. Evidently, the key to breaking this cycle is starting with low intensity exercise and starting a resistance training program suited to you and your tolerance. Muscle strength has been shown by the research to decrease pain and in turn increase habitual activity. A reduction in pain and gradually increasing physical activity can provide symptom relief and prevent this cycle from impacting your knee.

Lastly, if you would like more information on where to start in the management of knee OA, contact us here.