CSA Physio Blog

Knee pain? It may be early-onset osteoarthritis.

Posted on: October 3rd, 2019 by Herbin Samarumaraj

More than 10 million Americans are affected by knee osteoarthritis (OA)  Presumably then, over a million Canadians are too. It commonly affects a population aged 45 and greater. This condition occurs as the cartilage in the knee wears away eventually causing bone-on-bone contact between joint surfaces. Knee osteoarthritis can be diagnosed with a clinic examination and comfirmed via x-rays.

Signs of knee osteoarthritis

Knee pain when you first get going (the morning, after sitting), pain that limits how much movement you can do and eventually permanent pain.  Patients also experience a loss of function including stiffness, decreased range of motion and impairments in everyday activities. Other possible characteristics of knee OA are bony enlargement, crepitus (noise in the joint), joint tenderness and elevated sensitivity to damp weather.

Age is not the only factor that plays a role in the development of OA. Other risk factors are

  • Obesity
  • Joint hypermobility or instability
  • Sport stress with high impact loading
  • Repetitive knee bending or heavy weight lifting
  • Specific occupations
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Injury to the joint
  • History of immobilization
  • Family history

Physiotherapists very commonly help treat knee OA.  We test for muscle power, coordination, mobility, balance, function, gait and also stability of the joint. When testing knee stability, muscle strength and proprioception are of significant importance. Physiotherapy plays an important role in improving quality of life, relief of symptoms and can slow down the degenerative process.

Physiotherapy helps by

 – relieving the knee
pain with modalities and manual therapy.

 – improving knee stability through specific exercises and sometimes bracing.

 – improving knee function with training and exercise.

When should I see a Physiotherapist? 

An early sign of osteoarthritis in the knee or hip may be that the joint hurts and may feel stiff in the morning, or when you have been sitting still for a period of time. Stiffness and reduced mobility can make it difficult to do the things that you used to, for instance crouching, such as when you are putting on socks.

It is wise to consult a Physiotherapist when you feel discomfort or pain in the knee.  We can help you preserve those joints!


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