Common Lower Limb Injuries - Knee Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that affects the knee. It is normally associated with “wear & tear” of the cartilage of the knee. The cartilage is the cushioning on the ends of our bones which helps to protect the knee when bending & straightening it. If the cartilage wears away, the gap between the bones can narrow causing pain, swelling & stiffness. These symptoms can make everyday activities such as walking & climbing the stairs more difficult. Other symptoms that may be experienced are heat, clicking or locking of the knee joint & pain that is worse on waking or after sitting for long periods.
Knee arthritis does progress over time which is why it is more prevalent in older adults & the pain can increase as we age. In early stages of arthritis keeping active & doing specific exercises can help with pain management.
Why do I have knee arthritis?
There is no specific or single cause of knee osteoarthritis. However there are some risk factors such as weight (due to increased pressure on joints) & also a repetitive strain type effect for those who worked in jobs requiring repeated bending at the knees, although these do not necessarily mean that you will suffer from knee osteoarthritis. In addition, previous injuries to the knee such as ligament or meniscal (cartilage) tears have been shown to be associated with the risk of developing arthritis later in lift as the ability of the cartilage
to repair itself slows down.
Why is my arthritis causing so much pain?
This can be down to the fact that the degeneration or ability of the cartilage to heal slows down as we age. Pain can sometimes occur in more severe arthritis due to the narrowed space between the bones in the knee causing them to “rub” but more commonly pain can occur because of how our muscles respond to what is going on inside the joint. Muscles or groups of muscle can stop working efficiently due to the pain & this causes others to overwork & fatigue. Although we cannot necessarily influence what is going on inside the knee joint, we can help to have an effect on the strength or function of muscles to take some of the pressure off.
How can I manage my knee arthritis?
Flare ups are a normal part of having arthritis. Although you may feel that rest is the best option, arthritis doesn’t like it! Movement helps to encourage lubrication of our joints through the synovial fluid contained within them. Exercises to help balance the muscles around the knee & also those to strengthen the core & hip muscles meaning that they can take on some of the stress of the work that the knee has to do. Cardio exercise such as swimming & cycling can help you to maintain general fitness.