Osteoarthritis, a top cause of disability and musculoskeletal pain, is
a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage and underlying bone
slowly deteriorate. The most common joints affected are weight-bearing
joints like the hips and knees, but the thumb joints are sometimes affected,
as well. This very common disease, which affects over 30 million adults,
can be effectively managed with medication, and sometimes surgery such
as total joint replacement may be useful. For others, conservative, nonsurgical
care may be the best treatment, such as
physical therapy. In fact, one 2000 study found that a combination of physical therapy
and supervised exercise provided functional benefits, as well as delaying
or preventing the need for later surgery.
Having osteoarthritis is often called a double-edged sword: If you overuse
your joints, you risk further pain and joint health, but the less your
move your joints, the weaker and stiffer they get. A physical therapist
can help you find the balance of how to keep your knee joints moving so
they’re strong and healthy, while safely reducing pain and swelling,
as well as improving mobility. Physical therapy may also be the answer
for people who need help with walking, bending, kneeling, squatting, and
sitting. Some of the most effective therapies for osteoarthritis include:
strength training, manual therapy, electrical stimulation, and balance
and perturbation training.
Strengthening exercises are important to knee osteoarthritis and can help
decrease the patient’s pain. Flexibility exercises are useful to
increase range of motion of the knees and restoring joint function. Your
physical therapist may also recommend common “passive” treatments,
such as cold and/or heat therapy, and hydrotherapy. These can be useful
for reduction of swelling, increasing blood flow, reducing pain, and more,
depending on how you are instructed to apply heat or cold to your knee(s).
Do you have osteoarthritis? Our physical therapists are here to help you.
Contact us at ProFysio Physical Therapy center at (732) 333-6360 or
book your appointment online!