Physical Therapy a Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disease of aging frequently treated in physical therapy. Osteoarthritis of the knee joint occurs when the cartilage that separates the thigh and leg bone wears out or breaks down. Twenty five percent of people over 55 years demonstrate persistent episode of knee pain related to OA. In the United States, the incidence of knee OA is rising due to our aging population. The development of knee OA can be a result of advancing age, genetics, trauma, obesity, previous knee injury, and poor bone density. Occupations involving squatting or kneeling led to a two-fold increase in moderate to severe OA. Sixty nine percent of knee OA can be attributed to obesity. Having a previous miniscal surgery (knee surgery of the meniscus) increases the risk of future knee OA by 2.6 times. (Caspian J Intern Med. 2011)

Common symptoms of severe arthritis of the knee joint include:

* Swelling of the joint

* Knee pain

* Bow-legged or knock-kneed deformity

* Loss of motion

* Feeling of the knee ‘giving-way’

In a recent study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology (Reid et al. 2015) those individuals with knee OA who had greater leg power in the muscles around the knee had significantly less knee pain and improved quality of life. Power in a given muscle is a product of muscle strength and velocity of movement. The development of knee power through a closely monitored physical therapy program may help to reduce pain, improve quality of life and hasten the need for a total knee joint replacement.

The best evidence for treatment of knee OA involves therapeutic exercise and manual therapy. Therapeutic exercise intervention helps to address the strength, power and inflexibility in the muscles around the knees and hips. Manual therapy involves the use of the hands in specific therapeutic ways to normalize soft tissues, increase flexibility of tight muscles, and improve dysfunctional joints. Many patients with knee OA respond favorably to this type of physical therapy intervention.

Our staff would welcome the opportunity to help you decrease pain, improve your function, and return you to the highest quality of life possible. We are here to serve you with six convenient locations in Skippack, Gilbertsville, Barto, Phoenixville, Limerick and Stowe (Pottstown)! For more information or to make an appointment please call 610-327-2600, email, or visit us online at

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