What you need to know about knee arthritis
By far and away, the most common type of arthritis affecting the knee is Osteoarthritis.
The term osteoarthritis (OA) means the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone that causes pain and stiffness and is especially common in the knee.
Knee OA is one of the most prevalent conditions causing disability in the older populations and affects about 13% of women and 10% of men aged 60 years and older.
Knee OA is a huge problem all over the world as not only is the pain associated with it limiting, but it causes loss of movement and function, causes reduced independence, mobility and can be a significant contributing factor to falls.
Once the pain in your knees develops it can limit your activity levels and as a result, reduce muscle strength.
With reducing muscle strength, the deformity can increase and along with it, pain levels.
It really becomes a vicious cycle.
The risk factors for knee arthritis
There are many risk factors that increase your risk of developing knee OA including:
- Weight/ Body mass index (a ratio of body weight and height)
- Malalignment of the knee
- Neuro-muscular dysfunction
- History of knee trauma
- Joint instability
- Gait factors
- Activity levels
How to manage knee arthritis
The management of knee OA usually falls into one of three areas; conservative, pharmacological and surgical treatments or, a combination of these.
Many conservative treatments focus on changing force loading in the knees.
The movement properties and force loading within the knee joint contribute to the development and progression of knee OA.
Our role as podiatrists managing clients with knee OA is to assess how the forces generated by walking affect the knee and, with intervention, try to reduce the loading in the painful area of the knee.
Once abnormally high knee loads can be reduced, pain levels and function can be improved.
Some of the conservative management strategies we use for painful knee arthritis include:
- footwear modifications
- gait (walking pattern) re-training
- custom foot orthoses
- knee braces
- strength and conditioning of the muscles in the hips and legs to try to stabilise the feet and knees and lower the damaging force contributing to arthritis.
Shockwave therapy has also been used with great effects to help people living with knee arthritis to move better with less pain. You can read more about shockwave treatment HERE.
Pharmacological treatments focus on the management of pain and inflammation to allow as much movement and function as possible.
Such treatments may include paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, products such as glucosamine as well as other non-prescription medications.
New advanced treatments such as platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injection are currently being trialled in the management of knee OA.
Surgery is often the last stage of knee OA management.
Knee arthroscopy, partial and total knee replacements have been the mainstay in surgical treatment options for many years now.
If knee arthroscopy does not help with your pain, often a partial or total knee replacement may be warranted.
We are here to help
If you are experiencing knee pain with osteoarthritis, the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of the Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry for a comprehensive assessment to identify what is causing your knee pain.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan that outlines our best advice for how to help you to return to doing the things you love to do without needing to worry about knee osteoarthritis.
Just call us on 8330 0004, I'll love to talk to you about how we can help you build an amazing life from the feet up!
Director of Complete Podiatry