Knee Osteoarthritis: what’s true, what’s false and how we can help!

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Knee OA doesn’t mean you have to stop living! Here’s some tips on managing your Knee OA and how to improve your wellbeing!

Osteoarthritis Myths and Facts:

Knee osteoarthritis is often thought of as a life sentence, however, it’s actually a body process that can change. The phrase ‘bone on bone’ can be misleading as this is, for the majority, not the case. Despite your x-ray showing a narrowed joint space between the bones of the knee, there is still some tough, long-living cartilage that allows us to be able to move the knee. This cartilage is full of synovial fluid, which is essentially human WD-40. The best way to improve the health of the joint is through movement, exercise and a certain amount of weight-bearing stress. Synovial fluid is stored in this cartilage like a sponge full of water. When we move and weight-bear, the cartilage is squeezed and synovial fluid is released, subsequently providing nutrients and lubrication to the whole joint.

Benefits of Strength Training and Cardio Exercise:

Strength training is an essential component of restoring lower limb function as well as being one of the best pain-relievers you can get. Choosing the right strengthening exercises is important, as each osteoarthritis presentation can be unique, therefore, receiving an assessment by a qualified Physiotherapist can be beneficial to help decide which exercises will work best for you. Once your strength program is underway, improvements can be measured within a few weeks. Stronger muscles can help support the knee joint whilst also improving their ability to perform functional movements Thus, in combination with the pain-relieving effects, strength training can allow you to live the life you want to live! Cardio exercise is another important factor in improving the health of your knees. This form of exercise can be completed in a variety of ways, and may not even require the use of the knee. When we perform cardio exercise, i.e. get our sweat on, we can lower the amount of systemic (whole body) inflammation in our bodies. Hence, as osteoarthritis is fundamentally an inflammatory condition, performing regular cardio exercise can provide you with the best hit of anti-inflammatory ‘medicine’ you can get!

Benefits of Weight Management and Diet:

Keeping our body fat percentages in check is not only beneficial to our overall health, but can also have a major impact on the health of our knee joints. Less weight equals less load that goes through our knees. Losing five kilograms can equate to fifteen fewer kilograms of force exerted on the knee with each step. Following on with the topic of systemic inflammation, adipose tissue (fat) is inflammatory in nature, thus, reducing the amount of adipose tissue we have on our bodies can reduce the amount of inflammation in our knees. Weight reduction can be best achieved with a combination of regular strength/cardio training and a healthy and nutritious diet.

What to Expect Throughout Your Physiotherapy/Exercise Physiology Journey:

During your first visit to Target Physio we will conduct a thorough assessment in order to develop an understanding of your situation. This will ensure that we can develop an appropriate management plan that is both individualised to you and incorporates the principles mentioned above. You will be given tailored exercises and advice that will get you back to living your best life!

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