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Common Injuries and Treatments

Ankle / Elbow / Hip / Knee / Shoulder / Spine / Wrist



Osteoarthritis of the Knee

What is osteoarthritis of the knee?

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition marked by breakdown of the protective articular cartilage that protects the end of bones. 

What causes injuries to this tissue?

Articular cartilage wears down over time. This process happens faster in some individuals than others and can lead to pain. Common sites for osteoarthritis are in the bones of the spine, as well as in the hip, knee, shoulder and elbow joints.

What is the best treatment approach?

Physical therapy has been shown to be effective in treating osteoarthritis (see below for the role of physical therapy).  Medications, injections, relative rest, bracing and, in more advanced cases, surgical interventions (often joint replacement) can be helpful. 

What will the role of physical therapy be in this process?

Physical therapy can be beneficial in helping to prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. Research has shown that specific and targeted exercise can help minimize the progression of osteoarthritis. The focus of treatment for this condition is on increasing joint range of motion, increasing strength of the muscles around the joint and helping individuals find ways to exercise that help to decrease pain in the involved joint. Comfortable exercise that moves the joint helps to increase the circulation within the joint which helps it to be healthy. Aquatic therapy (specific and targeted exercises completed in a pool where the buoyancy of the water minimizes joint stress and compression) can be very helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis.  When symptoms and breakdown reach a functionally limiting level, surgical replacement of these joints can be completed by orthopedic surgeons.  Physical therapy is very much involved in the lengthy rehabilitation process after one of these replacement surgeries.

Will other services be helpful in taking care of this?

Underlying muscle tightness and soft tissue restrictions that are found to be related to osteoarthritis of the knee may be helped by massage therapy work.  Acupuncture can also be of assistance with the pain associated with these conditions.  Training to return to specific life tasks or sports can be initiated by physical therapists and progressed by personal trainers.  After your initial physical therapy evaluation, your physical therapist will help to determine if these services may be helpful.

Need More?

If you have more clinical questions about this condition, please click here to email our Director of Clinical Operations, Jessica Douglas, MSPT, OCS, or you can get more information by searching our blog.

If you'd like a complimentary injury screen with one of our licensed physical therapists to discuss your condition, please contact us.

If you're ready to make an appointment for any of our services, please contact us.

Patient Info

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617.536.1161

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