The most common arthritis is osteoarthritis

The knee joints support an individual’s entire body weight and function non-stop to keep us moving.

One of the most common ailments that afflicts the knees is arthritis. There are different types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that demonstrates signs of wearing away of the cartilage, the protective layer of the joint. 

There are several factors that can contribute to this condition. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Genetics – It is likely that some types of arthritis can run in families.
  • Age – As we age, the cartilage that covers the joint becomes more brittle and is compromised in its ability to repair itself. As people grow older they are more likely to develop arthritis. 
  • Body weight – Since the full load of the body goes through the knee joint, the joint itself has to support more forces. Thus, excess body weight can lead to, and even progress, arthritis. 
  • Previous knee injury – Trauma to the knee such as meniscus tears, ligament tears, or fractures to the bone around the joint can increase the risk of developing arthritis.
  • Some High-Level Sports – Sports participation, if associated with excessive high impact activities can lead to joint injury and consequent development of early arthritis.

Let’s Face the Facts

When people think about arthritis, many myths spring to mind. Here are a few of the most common, followed by the facts.

Myth: If you’re experiencing pain in your knee, you should get as much rest as possible until the pain subsides.

Truth: In the past, doctors believed that people with osteoarthritis should avoid exercise to minimize knee pain. Modern Science, however, proves controlled and supervised exercise is crucial in keeping osteoarthritis under control. The key is in moderation and staying in tune with your body. If you experience joint pain for more than two hours after a workout, chances are that you overdid it. But don’t use that as an excuse to stop exercising, which might actually make matters worse; just be sure to scale your exercise routine back a little the next time around.

Myth: Over-the-counter (OTC) pain pills are the best, and safest, treatment for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Truth: Even OTC pills can cause side effects if not used properly, so always follow the recommended doses as suggested. If this does not reduce pain, see your doctor for alternative pain management options.

Myth: Cold, wet climates make osteoarthritis symptoms worse.

Truth: Research has found no evidence that climate has any affect on the progress of osteoarthritis. People living in a variety of climates, including warm, dry locations, suffer from osteoarthritis.

An Ounce of Prevention for your Knees

The knee joint is complex in nature. Its complexity and weight-bearing nature make it one of the most commonly injured joints. We typically ignore our knees until an injury happens, and they begin to hurt. With the knees, more so than any other joints, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Avoid high-impact activities that add undue stress on the knee joints. This includes exercises like running and jumping. Consult your physical therapist before beginning any exercise program. 

With physical therapy, you can delay the onset and effectively treat knee osteoarthritis with a combination of controlled exercises, therapeutic modalities and gait-related adjustments.