Did you know that osteoarthritis (OA) is the most commonly diagnosed cause of knee pain in the over 50’s?
Interestingly most people over 50 have abnormalities on MRI consistent with OA but only 1/3 of them experience pain. This therefore shows us that age related wear and tear does not necessarily cause pain.
The findings on MRI include small bony growths (osteophytes), bone marrow lesions from over-loading and degenerative meniscal (cartilage) tears.
The horizontal cartilage tear is both a good and bad news story. The bad news is that the tear is in an area that is supplied by nerves and therefore it hurts, particularly at night. The good news is that where there are nerves there must be blood vessels and so with appropriate management the tear can heel but it will take 12 months!
The best evidence for reducing OA knee pain is to lose 10% of your body weight combined with appropriate exercise.
Successful physiotherapy treatment involves reducing the pain and improving joint stability and alignment. Taping can be helpful to reduce pain while the muscles are strengthened to stabilise the knee effectively and reduce excessive loading.
A good rehab program not only reduces pain but also improves the MRI appearance. This can reduce the need for a knee replacement or at least improve the muscle function until a knee replacement is needed.
If you choose to have an arthroscopy (surgery) to “clean out” the torn meniscus while the recovery time is the same, the processes of osteoarthritic changes are more rapid compared to a well managed physiotherapy program.
So if you’re over 50 and experiencing knee pain, please call and make an appointment with one of our friendly physiotherapists to discuss your situation.