KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS (KNEE OA)
Osteoarthritis is a progressive disorder of joints due to gradual wear and tear of the cartilage. Cartilage is a natural cushioning covering the ends of the bones. It is tough but flexible and protects the bone at the joint. As a result of this wear and tear, bony spurs and cysts can develop at the knee joint causing normal functions of the knee to be affected.
- Osteoarthritis is degenerative in nature and occurs along with degeneration of other body tissues, which is all part of the ageing process.
- An estimated 90% of people over the age of sixty years develop varying degrees of osteoarthritis.
- While the exact causes of Knee OA vary, risk factors for developing this condition include the following:
- Inherited abnormalities in the shape of bones that surround the knee joint.
- Increase in age
- Excess body mass
- Previous joint or sports injury to the knee
- Occupations that involve excess load of the knees
- Metabolic disorder (e.g. Gout, Rheumatoid arthritis)
Common signs and symptoms
- Recurring pain in knee
- Knee stiffness especially in the morning or after a period of rest.
- Knee swelling and warmth
- Decreased mobility and functional ability of the knee making it difficult to perform daily activities like stairs climbing, getting in and out of car and getting up from a chair.
- Grinding noises in knee
- Deformities in the form of bow legs and knocked knees
- X-ray showing reduced joint space and degeneration
How can a Physiotherapist help?
- Research has shown the benefits of physiotherapy in managing mild to moderate knee OA. Manual therapy can improve the mobility in the knee joint.
- Depending on the severity of the condition, a physiotherapist can improve the flexibility of the muscles around the knee. This will in turn reduce the load on the joint and allow better functional performance in daily activities.
- After a thorough gait analysis, a personalized strengthening programme for the hips and lower limbs muscles can be prescribed to improve walking efficiency.
- If there are lower limb alignment issues causing abnormal loading of the knee joint, our in-house podiatrist can customise insoles to reduce the symptoms.
ILIOTIBIAL BAND (ITB) FRICTION SYNDROME
Often experienced by runners, the iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome occurs when there is repetitive friction against the ITB – the long, thin band of fibrous connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh and – the bony prominence (lateral epicondyle of the femur) on the outside of the knee, usually when the heel strikes the ground.
- Usually attributed to altered biomechanics, sudden increase in training frequency or intensity, or a change in sporting surface.
- Other causes include weakness in the hip abductors, flat feet, bow-leg, leg-length discrepancy or overly tight muscles around the hips and knees.
Common Signs and Symptoms
- Pain on the outside of the knee. Usually increases with the activity even though there may be a pain-free start.
- The pain may radiate down the leg, or up towards the hip. As the syndrome progresses, there may even be pain on walking.
How can a Physiotherapist help?
A physiotherapist will be able to:
- Identify problematic areas such as muscular tightness and weakness contributing to altered running biomechanics.
- Provide pain-relief and restore hip and knee functions through providing soft tissue releases, ultrasound therapy and taping for pain relief, and specific exercises and stretches.
- Facilitate a graduated and pain-free return to sports within 6 weeks. The required recovery period will depend on the initial severity of the condition.