Human Performance and Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.

Knee Osteoarthritis

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knee. What caused this and how can physical therapy help me?

Knee osteoarthritis is a very common condition causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. It occurs when the cartilage or padding in a joint deteriorates and wears away. Arthritis is a degenerative condition and joint damage progresses or worsens over time. Arthritic joints can be quite painful, stiff, and sometimes swollen. Many people with osteoarthritis report that their knee is the most stiff in the morning.

There are a variety of factors which increase your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis is much more common in older adults. There is also a genetic component to developing arthritis, so you are more likely to develop arthritis if others in your family have it. People who are overweight are more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis and the joint damage can progress more quickly in heavy individuals. Also, if you have injured your knee in the past you are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis as you age.

If you have the misfortune of developing painful knee arthritis, a physical therapist can evaluate you and develop an appropriate treatment program. Your physical therapist should assess your strength, range of motion, balance, and the alignment of your body while you move. People with arthritis often benefit from strengthening, stretching, and instruction on how to move correctly to minimize further joint wear and tear. As your strength, flexibility, and alignment improve, you should find that it is easier for you to walk, move around, and participate in your desired activities.