If you have recently been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis you may be wondering whether you can still enjoy the active lifestyle you are used to. In this blog we will explore what leads to the development of knee osteoarthritis, what you can do to address the pain associated with it, and what it means for your level of activity overall.


Who gets knee osteoarthritis?

Knee Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of pain in the knee as people age. There are a large number of factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing knee osteoarthritis including a previous injury or surgery to the knee, muscle weakness, and carrying excess bodyweight.

Interestingly, many people who have arthritic changes to the knee on X-ray will not necessarily experience pain. It is the combination of changes on X-ray as well as a handful of other symptoms such as persistent knee pain and morning stiffness that lead to a diagnosis.


Wear and tear or something else?

Historically, osteoarthritis was thought of as a wear and tear disorder but recent research has begun to show that the development of osteoarthritis is much more complicated. This has had big implications on how we treat osteoarthritis.

In fact, the front line recommendation for treating pain from knee osteoarthritis is exercise! Multiple studies have shown that strengthening the muscles around the knee decreases the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis as well as decreases the pain experienced with osteoarthritis that is already present.

If you are currently in a period of increased knee pain, you may need to make modifications to your current activity levels, and a period of relative rest may be needed to calm down your osteoarthritis flare up but in the long run, the best thing you can do for your knee osteoarthritis is to stay active.


How to treat knee osteoarthritis

General treatment for knee osteoarthritis includes a period of relative rest during a flare up, where you still engage in activities and exercise but avoid the activities that are most aggravating such as excessive stair use, kneeling onto the ground, deep squats and carrying heavy loads.

Once the flare up has been managed, steadily increasing how much you are doing on your knee will allow you to get back to the activities you enjoy. At this point it is also very important to begin doing exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your knee in order to give your knee as much support as possible and limit the progression of further joint changes.

If knee osteoarthritis has progressed to a significant point and exercise and lifestyle changes have not been able to reduce your pain adequately, some people will opt for surgeries with consultation from their orthopaedic surgeon. But typically this is reserved only for very progressed stages of osteoarthritis and most people with osteoarthritis do not require these surgeries.

If you are struggling with knee osteoarthritis and would like to make a plan to get back to your activities, reduce your pain and strengthen your knee, come see one of the physiotherapists at Kamloops Physiotherapy who can help you develop a personalized plan that can get you back doing the activities that are important to you.

This blog was written by physiotherapist Domenic Mercuri. To book an appointment with Domenic or any of our other skilled therapists, call 250-314-0788 or book online HERE.