|Knee osteoarthritis is a condition that can cause stiffness that limits joint range of motion. Over time, the knee’s flexion and extension movements become limited, generally causing pain and an alteration of the normal biomechanics. Your thigh muscles also have to work harder during movement, generating a feeling of muscle tension.To date, the exact causes of osteoarthritis have not been fully identified. It is completely normal to have a mild level of osteoarthritis with age. However, the more advanced stages of osteoarthritis can affect the ability to carry out daily activities and sports. An exacerbation of symptoms usually occurs during a period when the level of physical activity has been drastically increased. Direct trauma to the knee can increase the symptoms of osteoarthritis.|
In the knee, the joint affected by osteoarthritis is the t ibiofemoral joint, formed by the femur bone and the tibia bone. It is mainly cartilage damage combined with the presence, in some cases, of slight bone spurs in the joint that appear to be responsible for the restriction of movement. Over time, certain muscles in the thigh area may compensate for the joint restriction and become more tense.1
Signs & Symptoms that you may experience
Each person will react differently to osteoarthritis and management will depend on its stage. Knee osteoarthritis can produce, but is not limited to, local pain in the knee, localized edema and stiffness in certain knee movements. Repetitive movements of the knee during walking or other sports activities and a squatting position with direct pressure can cause pain.
Knee osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that cannot be cured, which means that the range of motion may decrease over time. An active lifestyle and a rehabilitation plan may however slow the progression of this condition and make it easier to manage the symptoms.
▶ WHAT TO DO
Relative rest is a good way to prevent your symptoms from getting worse after a painful episode. A few days of rest while reducing activities that cause significant pain m ay be necessary, but it is very important to avoid deconditioning. A quick return to your daily activities, light cardiovascular exercises that do not cause an increase in pain, joint mobilization exercises and knee and hip muscles strengthening exercises will allow for better recovery.
Follow your therapist’s advice. This will help you manage the various stages of the healing process and increase the odds of success. Your therapist will accompany you during your rehabilitation program in order to improve range of motion of your knee’s joint, regain flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, and functional state.
According to the principles of knee osteoarthritis rehabilitation, improving joint range of motion should be an integral part of the treatment plan. A program to improve joint range of motion and flexibility, as well as specific muscle strengthening is common to control the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
▶ WHAT TO AVOID
Do not rely solely on a passive treatment approach. Each phase of the rehabilitation process is important. Patients who actively participate in their treatment plan tend to recover more quickly. Keep in mind that pain is not always a good indicator of joint or tissue damage. A significant level of pain does not necessarily imply a more advanced stage of osteoarthritis. As soon as you feel better and the pain is well under control, introduce, in collaboration with your therapist, light mobility and strengthening exercises based on your tolerance. Remember that exercise is an excellent way to manage pain associated with osteoarthritis.