Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage, bones, and other tissues in the knee joint. It is the most common type of arthritis, and it typically affects people over the age of 50, although it can occur in younger individuals as well.

Causes of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

The exact cause of knee osteoarthritis is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Here are some of the common causes of knee osteoarthritis:

Age: The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as you age, as the wear and tear on the joints over time can lead to damage to the cartilage and bone.

Obesity: Carrying excess weight can put extra stress on the knee joint and increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Joint injuries: Previous injuries to the knee, such as ligament tears, fractures, or dislocations, can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Overuse: Repeated activities that put stress on the knee joint, such as kneeling, squatting, or lifting heavy weights, can also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Genetics: Some people may be more prone to developing osteoarthritis due to their genetic makeup, such as having a family history of the condition.

Other health conditions: Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders, or joint malformations can increase the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

It’s important to note that the causes of knee osteoarthritis can vary from person to person and a combination of factors often contribute to the development of the condition

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

The signs and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis can vary from person to person but commonly include:

  • Pain: The most common symptom of knee osteoarthritis is pain in the knee joint, which can be dull or sharp and may worsen with activity.
  • Stiffness: The knee joint may feel stiff, especially after periods of inactivity, such as sitting for extended periods.
  • Swelling: The knee joint may appear swollen or feel tender to the touch.
  • Reduced range of motion: Knee osteoarthritis can cause a reduced range of motion in the knee joint, making it difficult to fully bend or straighten the knee.
  • Cracking or popping sounds: Some people with knee osteoarthritis may experience a crunching or popping sound when they move the knee joint.
  • Weakness: The muscles surrounding the knee joint may feel weak or fatigued.

The symptoms of knee osteoarthritis may develop slowly over time and can worsen over several years. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent pain or other symptoms, as early diagnosis and treatment can help to manage the condition and prevent further joint damage.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Physiotherapy is often an important component of the treatment plan for knee osteoarthritis. A physiotherapist can work with you to develop an exercise program that is tailored to your individual needs and goals. Here are some of the common physiotherapy treatments for knee osteoarthritis:

Exercise: Your physiotherapist can recommend exercises that are designed to improve your joint flexibility, strength, and range of motion. These exercises may include low-impact activities such as cycling, swimming, and walking.

Manual therapy: Your physiotherapist may use techniques such as massage, stretching, or joint mobilization to help relieve pain and stiffness in the knee joint.

Heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected knee joint can help to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

Assistive devices: Your physiotherapist may recommend the use of assistive devices, such as a knee brace, crutches, or a cane, to help support the knee joint and reduce the risk of falls.

Education: Your physiotherapist can provide education on lifestyle modifications and strategies to manage the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, such as weight loss, proper footwear, and joint protection techniques.

The specific physiotherapy treatment plan will depend on your individual symptoms, goals, and overall health. It’s important to work closely with your physiotherapist to develop a treatment plan that is safe and effective for your individual needs.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about osteoarthritis of the knee please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Dong, R., Wu, X., Wu, Y., Wang, F., Lu, J., Shen, J., … & Guo, X. (2021). Effects of aquatic exercise on physical function and quality of life in patients with knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation

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