There are around 14 million Americans who suffer from symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis is a common condition that results in a slow degeneration of the cartilage surface of a joint. Eventually this leads to bone growths called osteophytes (“bone spurs”) and further breakdown of the load-bearing surface of the joint. This whole process can sometimes lead to significant pain, a reduction in your quality of life, and missing out on things you love to do because of your knee. One option for relief of osteoarthritic pain is a total knee replacement. Every year 757,000 knee replacements are performed and cost, on average, over $30,000. Physical therapy is the cheaper, less invasive, and more effective option to help you live the life you want and we are here to help get you there.
So, how can physical therapy help you avoid surgery, and more importantly, help you keep doing the things you love? Well, unfortunately we can’t get rid of your arthritis and the older you get the more prevalent it appears to be! Seems bleak, right? Actually, a recent study in the British Medical Journal in 2012 found that 86-88% of people over 50 had “some abnormality” (osteophytes, cartilage damage, and bone marrow lesions) in their knees but did not have pain! This is great news because it means that you can have degeneration in your knees but not have pain. These structural findings on MRI and XRAY imaging are merely a piece of the puzzle and must be used in conjunction with you as the patient to help establish the best method of treatment.
Physical therapy can help by building a treatment program that helps improve the health of your joints. Think of the cartilage in your knee like a sponge. When you stand, fluid that is full of nutrients, waste products, and other essentials for the joint gets pushed out. When you take the weight off your knee by swinging your leg and walking forward, fluid gets reabsorbed into the joint surfaces. This cyclical pattern is imperative to keeping your cartilage and joint surface healthy and strong. This process still occurs even in a degenerative joint such as those found with knee arthritis. So, even with degeneration, exercise helps to improve the quality of your joint health and reduce pain.
Studies have shown that various forms of manual therapy in conjunction with exercise are effective in reducing pain and improving function for people with knee arthritis. Your treatment should include exercise in various forms that your physical therapist can customize to your goals and your current ability level. It ensures that you get the best possible results and a plan that is tailored to YOU! See below for a few exercises that can get things started before arriving to physical therapy. However, nothing substitutes for a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist to fully understand your needs and develop a customized plan for your road to recovery. Let us help you feel good again!
Sit to Stand: Perform at a height that is challenging but comfortable for you. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Glute Bridge: While lying on your back, squeeze your butt to lift your hips up towards the ceiling. Try not to let your back arch. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Standing Heel Raises: While standing holding on to counter top, raise up on both of your toes. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions. A progression would be to perform on one leg at at time.
Sidelying Hip Abduction: While lying on your side, lift your top leg up towards the ceiling. Make sure to keep your leg in line with your body and your hips stacked on top of one another. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out to us at any of our 3 clinics or contact us here. We aim to help you feel good again!