Knee Osteo-arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Also known as degenerative joint disease, Knee Osteo-arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the knee joint. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in the knee joint wears down over time. As a result, the bones may rub against each other, causing pain, inflammation, and reduced joint mobility.
Causes of Knee Osteoarthritis
Several factors contribute to the development of knee osteoarthritis, including:
Age: Osteoarthritis is more common as individuals age, with the risk increasing after the age of 50.
Previous Injuries: Previous knee injuries, such as ligament tears or fractures, can increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis in the knee joint.
Obesity: Excess weight places additional stress on the knee joint, accelerating the breakdown of cartilage and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis, suggesting a hereditary component.
Joint Misalignment: Structural abnormalities or misalignment of the knee joint can result in uneven distribution of forces, leading to increased wear and tear on the cartilage.
Symptoms of Knee Osteo-arthritis
The symptoms of knee Osteo-arthritis may vary from person to person, but common signs include:
- Joint Pain: Persistent pain in the knee joint, which may worsen during physical activity or after prolonged periods of inactivity.
- Stiffness: Joint stiffness, particularly after periods of rest or in the morning, which usually improves with movement.
- Swelling: Swelling around the knee joint due to inflammation, causing localised warmth and tenderness.
- Reduced Range of Motion: Difficulty fully bending or straightening the knee, leading to a decreased range of motion.
- Joint Instability: Feeling of the knee “giving way” or feeling unstable during weight-bearing activities.
How Podiatrists Diagnose Knee Osteoarthritis
Podiatrists play a crucial role in diagnosing knee osteoarthritis by considering a patient’s medical history, conducting a physical examination, and ordering relevant diagnostic tests. The biomechanical assessment and diagnostic process includes:
- Medical History: Your podiatrist will discuss the patient’s symptoms, medical history, previous injuries, and any factors that may contribute to the development of knee osteoarthritis.
- Physical Examination: Your podiatrist will conduct a thorough physical examination of the knee joint, assessing range of motion, joint stability, alignment, and signs of inflammation or tenderness.
- Imaging Tests: X-rays are commonly used to visualise the knee joint, assess the degree of cartilage loss, and evaluate the presence of bone spurs or other signs of osteoarthritis.
- MRI or CT Scans: In some cases, the podiatrist may request more detailed imaging studies, such as an MRI or CT scan, to provide a more comprehensive view of the knee joint and surrounding structures.
How Knee Osteoarthritis is Treated
While there is no cure for knee osteoarthritis, podiatrists can offer various treatment options to manage the condition effectively. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s specific needs and may include:
Lifestyle Modifications: Weight management is crucial for reducing stress on the knee joint. A podiatrist may provide guidance on healthy eating, exercise programs, and strategies for reducing joint strain.
Physical Therapy: Specific exercises and stretches can be prescribed by your podiatrist, to improve knee joint mobility, strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, and enhance overall joint stability.
Orthotic Devices: Custom-made orthotic inserts can be prescribed to provide support, cushioning, and improve foot and lower limb alignment. Orthotics can help redistribute forces during walking or running, reducing stress on the knee joint.
Assistive Devices: The use of assistive devices, such as a cane or knee brace, can help reduce joint pressure and provide support during weight-bearing activities.
Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroid injections may be recommended to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with knee osteoarthritis.
Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical interventions such as arthroscopy, osteotomy, or joint replacement may be considered. These options are typically reserved for advanced stages of knee osteoarthritis.
How to Prevent and Manage Knee Osteoarthritis
While it may not be possible to prevent knee osteoarthritis entirely, there are strategies to help reduce the risk and manage the condition effectively:
- Maintain Proper Posture and Body Mechanics: Good posture and proper body mechanics can help distribute forces evenly throughout the body, including the knees. Avoid excessive kneeling, squatting, or prolonged periods of standing, which can place additional strain on the knee joints.
- Engage in Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity helps strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint, providing added support and stability. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and walking are excellent choices that minimise stress on the knees while promoting joint health.
- Use Proper Footwear: Wearing appropriate footwear is essential for maintaining good foot and lower limb alignment. Choose shoes that provide adequate cushioning, support, and stability, especially during high-impact activities. Consult with a podiatrist to ensure your footwear fits properly and is suitable for your specific foot type and activity level.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess body weight places additional stress on the knee joints, accelerating wear and tear. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise helps reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis.
- Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Prior to engaging in physical activity or exercise, it is important to warm up the muscles and joints. Gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises can help prepare the knees for increased activity. Similarly, cooling down and stretching afterward can help prevent muscle tightness and joint stiffness.
- Practice Joint-Friendly Activities: Opt for activities that minimise impact on the knee joints. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, yoga, and tai chi are gentle on the knees while providing beneficial cardiovascular and strength-building effects.
- Protect the Knees: When engaging in activities that put stress on the knees, such as sports or physical activity, wear appropriate protective gear. Knee pads, braces, or sleeves can help absorb impact and reduce the risk of injury.
- Avoid Overuse and Repetitive Movements: Excessive stress and repetitive movements can contribute to joint wear and tear. Avoid overdoing activities that strain the knees, and be mindful of proper technique and form to minimise the risk of injury.
- Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any warning signs or discomfort in your knees. If you experience pain, swelling, or any other unusual symptoms, it is important to seek prompt medical attention from a podiatrist or healthcare professional.
- Regular Check-ups and Evaluations: Periodic visits to a podiatrist for routine foot and lower limb evaluations can help identify any potential issues early on. A podiatrist can assess your foot mechanics, identify any imbalances or abnormalities, and provide appropriate interventions to prevent or manage knee osteoarthritis.
By following these preventive measures and working closely with a podiatrist, you can take proactive steps to protect your knees, maintain joint health, and minimise the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.
In Melbourne Knee Osteo-arthritis treatment is a common reason patients see our Podiatrists.
Book in with our highly experienced team for Knee Osteo-arthritis treatment melbourne. Please call 03 9878 4566 or email [email protected] and we can book you in for a Biomechanical Assessment in the closest clinic location that suits you; Blackburn, Melbourne CBD, Newport, Elsternwick, Caroline Springs or Springvale.