What is Knee Osteoarthritis ?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative wear and tear arthritis of a joint. Our cartilage – the natural shock absorbers between bones – is worn away resulting in the bones of the joint absorbing more forces and rubbing closer together. This leads to pain,stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, formation of bone spurs and/or affected daily activity.


This image depicts the difference between a normal knee and osteoarthritis knee.

The incidence of knee osteoarthritis is increasing as the average age of our population grows older and is likely to increase in the future. 13% of women and 10% of men over 60 years of age have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms

  • Swelling
  • Knee pain that gets worse with activity
  • Stiffness or tightness in the joints especially after prolonged positions such as sitting or sleeping
  • Bony changes around the knee cap and front of the knee
  • Creaky knees
  • Decrease range of motion and mobility

People with knee osteoarthritis generally experience difficulty with:

  • Changing positions – sit to stand, stand to sit
  • Going up or down stairs
  • Squatting or kneeling
  • Difficulty getting in and out of the car

Knee Osteoarthritis Causes

The most common cause of osteoarthritis is age. Generally after 45 years, our body will begin to have degenerative changes however some people may experience it early or later, or slower or faster depending on risk factors.

The risk factors that increase the rate of osteoarthritis or increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis at an earlier age are:

  • Age: our cartilages healing ability decreases with age
  • Weight: Increase in weight places more strain on bones, cartilages and joints causing earlier or faster degeneration. Every kilo adds at least 3-4 kilos of pressure on our knees
  • Genetics: Maybe inherited bony abnormalities or genetic disposition to developing arthritis
  • Gender: Statistics report women are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than men
  • Athletics: Past history of heavy involvement in athletics or sports such as long distance running, soccer, basketball, netball, rugby, tennis etc. These sports increase the pressure on the knee and these athletes are more likely to develop early arthritis.
  • Repetitive strain injuries: Certain jobs that require a lot of squatting, kneeling or heavy lifting may place more pressure on the joints which will lead to earlier or quicker degeneration.

Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment

Treatment for osteoarthritis includes conservative therapy, pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections or surgery. In minor cases arthroscopy surgery can be used to clean up the joint space of damaged cartilage or loose cartilage. In severe cases partial or complete knee replacements can also be performed.

At Fort Healthcare, knee problems are one of the most common treated problems.

Knee problems may beeffectively treated with the Fort Healthcare Premium Care Plan which includes:

  • Consultation with our multi-disciplinary specialist team
  • Techniques to reduce inflammation, swelling, joint stiffness, muscle tightness and tension.
  • Improve strength of the knee.
  • Improve range of motion (ROM)
  • Correct biomechanical faults
  • Self-management: take home exercise plans and rehabilitation training advice.
  • Lifestyle modification advice for weight loss and reducing pressure on knee.

Knee Osteoarthritis Recovery time

As osteoarthritis is a chronic progressive condition there is no definitive recovery time. Long term treatment goals revolve around symptom control and decreasing the rate of degeneration. This can be achieved by lifestyle modification with weight loss and activity advice and with strengthening exercises. Combined together, these techniques will decrease pressure on the knee whilst simultaneously using the leg muscles to help absorb strain on the knee.