A degenerative condition commonly known as 'wear and tear' of a joint. OA typically affects those over 45 and produces a pattern of fluctuating stiffness, swelling and pain. 'Wear and tear' can develop gradually over the years as a result of overuse of a joint, where the protective hyaline cartilage within the joint gradually becomes worn and the joint surfaces are left to effectively 'rub' on one another. Trauma to the joint at an earlier stage of an individual's life is thought to predispose them to earlier degeneration within that joint. Injuries such as ligament damage (for example, ACL injury) may show earlier joint changes on xray / MRI scan than the uninjured side due to the altered joint mechanics and stresses that are produced within the knee joint following such an injury.
It's important to mention that not all individuals with degenerative changes within their joints experience pain or any other symptoms, and therefore osteoarthritis affects people differently.
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis and it is a progressive disease of the joint, there are certain management strategies that can improve the symptoms, and indeed prolong the integrity of the joint. A well balanced diet, cod liver oil supplements and adequate hydration are all thought to improve the joint environment directly. Glucosamine and Chondroitin have been widely promoted as being beneficial supplements in the management of OA and the hype for these agents was considerable a few years ago. However recent research has found no evidence to support the use of either Glucosamine or Chondroitin as being effective in the management of joint pain and degeneration.
Strengthening the muscles around the joint (the quadriceps and hamstrings), has been proven to provide increased support to the joint, thereby reducing any associated joint pain and improving its function, and prolonging the 'life' of the knee. Your physiotherapist can issue a progressive strengthening programme for O.A knee, working specifically on functional rehabilitation which is specific to an individual's aims. O.A of the knee does not mean that return to sport is impossible, nor that an individual is old! Degeneration can affect individuals directly as a result of a sporty lifestyle, and therefore it should be appreciated when formulating a rehabilitation programme that exercises may need to be dynamic and be aimed at restoring a high level of functional activity.↑ Back to top