Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment

With age or an increased training schedule comes risk of developing injury or pain. While some of these movement mishaps occur without warning, others develop slowly, often starting from a minor niggle.

One such condition is knee osteoarthritis. Thankfully there are a number of options available to help manage knee osteoarthritis (KOA) to prevent worsening function, and get the pain settled and under control.

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?


Acquiring its name from the Greek terms for “bone”, “joint” and “inflammation”, osteoarthritis refers to deterioration of the flexible tissue, known as cartilage, between bones1. Knee osteoarthritis can be thought of as ‘wear and tear’ that develops gradually over time.

Those with KOA report pain in the knee, particular when walking and on stairs. They may feel stiffness, loss of flexibility, swelling, a grating sensation in the joint, and popping or cracking sounds. In some people the pain from osteoarthritis can impair mobility, and in the worst cases cause sleep disturbances and bouts of depression2.

OA commonly occurs in the knees because of the daily work our knees do, and it’s becoming more prevalent due to a range of societal and public health factors. In 1996 2.0% of the population was estimated to be suffering from the condition, a figure which had risen to 3.6% by 20153.

What Causes Knee Osteoarthritis?

Despite a popular belief that osteoarthritis affects only certain demographics, people from all walks of life can be susceptible to the disease. Factors that contribute to its development include:
Age – Old age increases the likelihood of developing all kinds of osteoarthritis, including that of the knee.
Sex – Due to reasons that are poorly understood, women are more likely than men to develop the condition.
Stress on the Joint – A person’s job, sport, or weight can place excessive and consistent stress on the knee.
Genetics – A tendency to develop knee osteoarthritis can be inherited.
Joint Defects – Malformed or defective joints and cartilage may be present from birth, leading to osteoarthritis later in life.
Metabolic Disease – Hemochromatosis (excessive iron in the blood) and diabetes have been linked to a higher risk of the condition.

What Happens if Knee Osteoarthritis is Left Untreated?

For a lot of people knee OA is a minor inconvenience and can be settled quickly with the right care. Without appropriate treatment, however, knee osteoarthritis can have negative effects on movement and subsequently quality of life, including:
Further Injury – A loss of dexterity, strength, and flexibility in the lower limbs means sufferers of knee osteoarthritis are up to 2.5 times more likely to experience a fall.
Weight Gain – An increase in weight can occur when osteoarthritis impedes regular exercise. As the joints are forced to bear a greater load, this unfortunately only compounds the condition.
Disability – If the associated pain becomes overwhelming, everyday activities such as cleaning, working, and even getting dressed can feel like impossible tasks4.
Fortunately there are a range of treatment options available to help manage the condition.

What Knee Osteoarthritis Treatments Are Available?

As with most bodily issues, early intervention is key to ensuring the best possible outcome for those with knee osteoarthritis. Depending on the severity of the pain, the following treatments may be employed:
Physiotherapy – Physiotherapy is often the first port of call for those diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis, and with good reason.

A specialist practitioner can help stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, thereby increasing mobility and reducing pain. Following appropriate patient education, such exercises can then be self-performed for lasting relief.

If weight loss is necessary, physiotherapists will also be able to guide the patient through additional low-impact aerobic activities5.

Focussed Shockwave TherapyFocused shockwave therapy is a non-invasive procedure whereby acoustic energy is directed into damaged tissue via a small, handheld device.

It may sound a little odd to the uninitiated, but it’s shown great results in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. A study published in 2019 concluded that focused shockwave therapy significantly reduced pain and improved knee function among sufferers of the condition6. This finding was corroborated by a similar study a year later, which observed that it has “beneficial effects on cartilage, subchondral bone and surrounding tissues and can provide relief from chronic OA pain”7.

Medication and Injections – A number of medications and injections may be administered to help relieve the pain from knee osteoarthritis. These range from corticosteroids delivered directly into the joint, to orally-administered nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Surgery – Surgery can range from a keyhole ‘washout’, to a replacement of the joint altogether with a Total Knee Replacement.

Artificial knee joints provide pain relief and improved function, however rehabilitation is vital8. To best regain mobility and strength, rehabilitation with a physiotherapist is recommended after such a procedure.


What should you do if you experience symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis?


If you experience symptoms of knee pain, it’s important to consult with a qualified health professional. Knee pain can have many causes, so an accurate diagnosis is needed to get you on the correct management plan.

Once diagnosed, reliable and experienced knee physiotherapists, like those at E3 Physio, will be able to treat your condition with proven and effective therapies.

At E3, we help patients manage knee osteoarthritis through a combination of manual treatments including joint mobilisation, stretching, strengthening exercises, and focused shockwave therapy. This multifaceted approach has allowed countless of our clients to overcome knee pain, and return to doing the things they love.

You can reach out to our friendly team via phone, or book an appointment online.