by Ashlea Wilson
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is inflammation of the joint and can present with pain, stiffness, redness and swelling. The Arthritis Society (1) describes OA as occurring when “cartilage (the tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of the bones) begins to wear away”. This is problematic because there is a loss of joint space and decreased ability for the joint to absorb shock. There can also be the development of bony growths called osteophytes and all of this can result with bone on bone friction. This exacerbates pain, stiffness and swelling.
Fortunately, there are conservative treatment options to help people manage the symptoms associated with OA of the knee. Physiotherapy will focus on maintaining or improving your knee range of motion, strengthening the muscles that help support the knee, improving your movement patterns to maintain the best alignment and reduce any increased load being placed on the joint.
You can also talk to your physiotherapist about bracing options available to help align and support your knee. There are pre-fabricated brace options or a trained physiotherapist can measure your knee to have a custom brace made for you. The objective of OA knee braces is to help off-load the area of the joint most affected by degeneration or OA changes. This can help decrease pain and limit further loss of cartilage by restoring some of the joint space that is loss with OA. These braces can be worn during any recreational activities when people will be on their feet, and even in water.
Talk to your physiotherapist about these and other options to help you manage your knee OA symptoms and keep you moving pain free.