What is Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Symptoms and Non-Surgical Alternatives

As an insidious condition that does a great job of sneaking up on people over the course of time, osteoarthritis is a common ailment suffered by thousands of people across Canada. The knee seems particularly prone to developing it.  Known as osteoarthritis of the knee, it’s the most common type of osteoarthritis.  Although it is more common in people over 40, it strikes all age groups. While athletes are common sufferers of osteoarthritis of the knee, they are, by no means, the only sufferers.

What is osteoarthritis of the knee? Osteoarthritis of the knee refers to the degeneration of the actual knee joint. More specifically, this means that the hyaline cartilage covering the articulating surfaces of the bones in the knee joint have deteriorated.

What causes osteoarthritis of the knee? Typically attributed to wear and tear, there are actually many different contributing factors leading to osteoarthritis of the knee, which whether hereditary, or resulting from trauma suffered to the knee, can include:

–          Trauma to knee joint, including tearing of the meniscus

–          Recurrent patellar dislocation or patella fracture

–          Fractures of the knee or knee dislocation

–          Ligamentous instability, such as an ACL injury

–          Various genetic factors, including the presence of arthritis in family medical history

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee vary.  Should you feel pain or stiffness, loss of full range of motion, muscle weakness, or baker’s cysts – either jointly, or individually – you may, in fact, have osteoarthritis of the knee.

Osteoarthritis of the knee can leave a person feeling surgery is a necessary and sole option. But not necessarily. Several different treatments are available to osteoarthritis of the knee patients.  Although surgery may be necessary in some cases, various non-surgical treatments can help restore knee tissue and decrease or eliminate the pain osteoarthritis of the knee is known for. These treatments may include:

–         Physiotherapy – Strength training and physical exercise to rebuild muscle can work to decrease pain.

–         Viscosupplementation – This process involves the injection of hyaluronic acid into the knee joint.  As a naturally occurring protein in the body, hyaluronic acid lubricates the joint and increases fluid viscosity.

–        The use of a custom knee brace – Custom fitted, this knee brace works to stabilize and decrease wear and tear on knee and knee joints, making everyday tasks, such as walking or running, much more comfortable – which is liberating for osteoarthritis sufferers!

Used separately or as part of a combined treatment plan, these alternatives to surgery can help you return to your regular level of physical activity without the consistent pain or instability osteoarthritis of the knee is so famous for. These alternative treatments also mean a far less sedentary recovery period, meaning you are able to recover while still enjoying life without having to take time off work or to completely eliminate physical activity from your regular routine.

Osteoarthritis of the knee can be a very painful, debilitating disease that can greatly impact your ability to complete daily tasks or enjoy your favourite activities and participate in sports. Although surgery remains a viable option to help relieve the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee, it is important to remember that it is not your sole option!

To find out more about osteoarthritis of the knee and what non-surgical options are available to treat it, contact Athletic Edge Sports Medicine by calling (416) 800-0800, or visit www.aesmphysiotherapytoronto.ca