When the body reaches a certain age, usually around middle age or 45 and above, due to the natural wear and tear the body experiences over the course of our daily activities, many people develop aches in the joints or constant body pain. This can lead to a frustrating and unpredictable development of arthritis or other miniscule damage to the joints for a large percentage of people. When weight problems are added to the equation or there has been a previous injury these joint problems may develop at a faster rate and cause mobility dependency affecting the overall quality of life.
A recent PT community study estimated up to 45% of the population in their 50’s – 60’s already showed symptoms of knee osteoarthritis affecting the major joints, thus increasing the risk of developing serious mobility problems later on, if left untreated. This risk increased 57% for those who suffered a knee injury in the past and for those with an increased BMI of over 20% of the recommended body weight or whose weight fluctuated rapidly, as the risk increased even more, in proportion to the strain placed on these joints.
For those suffering from this degenerative disease, surgery is usually recommended as a solution to repair the damaged area of cartilage at the knee, which works to provide immediate relief from the symptoms that accompany OS. The fact that more than 450,000 arthroscopy surgeries are performed in the US annually without an alternative solution being provided to OS patients highlights the need for PT’s to provide information on the subject of natural treatments for knee problems provided by the physiotherapists. When advising patients on treatment for knee problems, doctors and PTs found minimal information available for alternative treatments or valued comparisons on which could be most effective, either arthroscopy or physical therapy, for initial problems with torn knee cartilage or knee osteoarthritis.
New research and development in this field have been carried out by various hospitals, and in Apollo’s latest survey of PT’s working with patients experiencing these problems, it was concluded that for some patients physical therapy provided relief from pain and increased as much dexterity to the joint as did arthroscopy. This mainly applied to those in stages 1 or 2 of knee osteoarthritis or as a first line of treatment for meniscal tears. The conclusion was that patients from both groups had similar improvements in the range of motion of their knee joints after treatment.
Since a majority of patients also suffered from weight issues, a consistent exercise routine along with a diet plan was also recommended as a way to relieve pain and reduce the stress on the knee joints. Exercises such as isometric routines that built resistance and muscle strength in the muscles supporting the joint were also noted as beneficial. The participants of this survey were of the opinion that physical therapy could benefit most patients suffering from OS, even if surgery became necessary later on, as the overall mobility and strength gained from therapy helped reduce pain and discomfort.