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Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee occurs when the bony surfaces (cartilage) between the thigh bone and shin bone, and sometimes on the back of the kneecap (patella), become worn and uneven. This prevents smooth movement of the joint and can be a normal part of the ageing process.

Knee osteoarthritis (knee OA) is a progressive disease caused by inflammation and degeneration of the knee joint that worsens over time. It affects the entire joint, including bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. Its progression is influenced by age, body mass index (BMI), bone structure, genetics, muscular strength, and activity level. Knee OA also may develop as a secondary condition following a traumatic knee injury. Depending on the stage of the disease and whether there are associated injuries or conditions, knee OA can be managed with physical therapy. More severe or advanced cases may require surgery.


  • Pain and swelling
  • Stiffness and restricted movement
  • Grinding noise on movement
  • The knee giving way when turning or walking on uneven ground
  • Pain first thing in the morning, after Sitting too long or after doing too much.
  • Tenderness –  Your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.
  • Loss of flexibility –  You might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
  • Bone spurs –  These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.

Managing osteoarthritis of the knee

1. Weight loss: Lightening the load

Every step you take exposes your knee joints to a force equal to three to five times your body weight. If you have osteoarthritis, a weight gain or loss of just 5 pounds can cause a noticeable difference in the amount of pain you feel. One study of overweight or obese older adults who had knee osteoarthritis found that for every pound of weight they lost, the stress on their knees was reduced fourfold. Obesity not only puts added stress on the knees, it also spurs the production of inflammatory proteins that may hasten cartilage degeneration. Weight loss can help preserve cartilage and reduce symptoms.

2. Exercise: Motion as medicine

Lack of exercise and knee osteoarthritis can produce a downward spiral of increasing disability. Lack of exercise makes you more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis; the pain of osteoarthritis makes you avoid exercise; and avoiding exercise makes the arthritis worse. The key to breaking this cycle is exercise.

Regular light to moderate exercise (during which you sweat lightly but can talk easily) can slow the disease process and reduce your pain. The exercise should be individually tailored to prevent injury, so start with an evaluation by a clinician or physical therapist experienced in managing osteoarthritis. A program to improve knee osteoarthritis may include the following:

Low-impact aerobic exercise . Swim, cycle, walk, or use an elliptical trainer (a machine that simulates walking or stair-climbing without stressing the joints) and gradually increase the time you spend doing it. Also, try to incorporate more activity in your daily tasks—for example, park farther from your destination and walk, or use stairs instead of the elevator.

Quadriceps strengthening . Strengthening the thigh muscles will help protect the knee and improve pain, stiffness, and balance. (For exercises that work the quadriceps, see “Knee-strengthening exercises”) If your joints are poorly aligned or the ligaments are overstretched, consult a physical therapist for safe strengthening exercises.

Flexibility . Muscle stiffness can limit knee-joint movement and lead to further pain. Stretching and range-of-motion exercises may help.

Balance . Knee osteoarthritis can interfere with balance by impairing the capacity of receptors in your joints to detect the position of your body in space. You can improve your balance with strengthening exercises as well as specific balance exercises and activities such as tai chi.

3. Reduce pain with medications

Medications can’t change the course of osteoarthritis, but they can help ease pain and make it possible for you to exercise.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

Once you have received a diagnosis of Osteoarthritis of the knee , your physical therapist will design an individualized treatment program specific to the exact nature of your condition and your goals. Your treatment program may include:

  • Range-of-motion exercises.
  • Muscle strengthening. 
  • Manual therapy.
  • Bracing.
  • Activity recommendations.
  • Modalities.

Regular contact with a health professional will help you make the most of self-management strategies, medications, and other means of slowing the course of knee osteoarthritis and maintaining the best possible quality of life.

Should you require additional information or would like to make an appointment with our Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Ishrat Khan OR Physical Therapists,  Anil Daniel,  OR Hadel Radwan  please call us or e-mail us at info@westminsterclinic.ae

Disclaimer: All contents on this site are for general information and in no circumstances information be substituted for professional advice from the relevant healthcare professional, Writer does not take responsibility of any damage done by the misuse or use of the information.


  • NHS.uk
  • Physio.co.uk
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Mayoclinic.org

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