As a key joint in the body, a biomechanical structure that bears much weight and is constantly subjected to repeated stress, the knee is especially prone to wear-and-tear. Knee osteoarthritis is the most common chronic knee condition and can be debilitating.
How does knee osteoarthritis occur?
As discussed in the previous article, the knee joint is covered by a substance called cartilage. Cartilage ensures seamless, painless movement as it is a cushion that absorbs shock and reduces friction between the femur and tibia bones.
However, with time and improper biomechanics, this cartilage can erode. High-impact, repetitive stress movements such as running and jumping wears at the cartilage, which is further weakened by the burden of bearing the body’s entire weight. The protective cartilage cushion begins to fray, causing the femur and tibia to start rubbing against each other painfully.
Osteoarthritis is most common in patients aged 50 and up: as the body ages, our ability to regenerate and maintain cartilage slows down, unable to keep up with cartilage loss. This speeds up the rate of wear-and-tear and thus causes the onset of osteoarthritis. However, patients of any age can develop osteoarthritis, suggesting that other risk factors may also be at play:
- Heredity: you may have a higher chance of developing the condition if your family has a history of osteoarthritis.
- Gender: women have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis, particularly those aged 55 and up.
- Obesity: being overweight puts extra stress on the knee joints and increases the inflammation in the joints.
- Athletic activity: footballers, runners and tennis players in particular are especially prone due to the repetitive nature, high physical impact, risk of injuries and trauma and sudden movements associated with their sports.
- Improper biomechanics: inefficiencies or improper movement of the knee joint and the muscles around it will increase the stress to the joint and the soft tissues around it. The stress will then accumulate and lead to wear and tear of the knee joint over time. This is the most common cause of knee osteoarthritis that has been overlooked by most people. Hence it is important to seek help from your chiropractor who can detect these subtle problems prior to the signs and symptoms become apparent.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Creaking or crackly sensations when moving the knee
- Pain aggravated by weight bearing activities
- Increased pain and stiffness waking up in the morning and reduced by gentle activity
- Warmth or swelling in the joint
- In more advanced cases, knee buckling and giving out
Managing knee osteoarthritis
Knee osteoarthritis should not go untreated: the pain and discomfort it causes can be paralysing. Always seek professional help, such as going to a chiropractic clinic or seeking chiropractic care, if you suspect osteoarthritis in your knee.
While a chiropractor is helping you to restore proper joint biomechanics and function of your nervous system, on your own, you may be recommended some exercises to strengthen and condition your knee. Strength and conditioning exercises are key to developing the muscles supporting your knee to relieve it of the weight it bears and assist in facilitating movement.
One exercise you may be asked to perform is the hamstring stretch. This stretch improves your flexibility and range of motion, which mitigates the limitations of movement brought on by knee osteoarthritis and reduces risk of injury associated with the condition. It is also a great way to relieve pain.
Another exercise that builds muscle strength is the straight leg raise. Typically performed by lying on the ground with your back flat touching on the ground and raising the leg up slowly, it is used to develop strength in the thighs to help prop the knee and compensate for its weaknesses.
Pillow squeezes function similarly to strengthen the inner thigh muscles, which also support the knees from the side. As it involves simply placing a pillow between your legs and squeezing it in sets of ten, this exercise is very easy to do and can be performed lying down or seated—a versatile exercise.
Rehabilitative exercises should be performed under supervision or with guidance from your chiropractor, who can work with you to come up with a treatment plan specially catered to your unique needs and circumstances.
In My Chirocare, we are also equipped with Ultrasound Therapy to help promote the healing of injured muscles, ligaments and bone fracture as well as Radial Shockwave Therapy to help reduce bone spur formation, reduce pain and accelerate the body’s natural healing process. If you suspect that you have osteoarthritis, or better yet, if you would like to optimise the function and biomechanic of your body, schedule an appointment with us by calling us at 62084669 or dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!