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Give Your Painful Knee Joints the Flick! What Osteoarthritis Patients Should Know About Physiotherapy Treatment

If you are one of those living with osteoarthritis, you know how the condition can severely affect one's daily function and quality of life. Osteoarthritis involves deteriorated joints characterised by pain, inflammation and restricted motion. Most of the treatments arthritis patients go for just improve symptoms and slow down the process, but they don't reverse the condition.

Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage in the joints gets damaged or breaks down. Some of the risk factors to this joint disease include obesity, gender and age. If you want to improve osteoarthritis symptoms such as knee pain, stiffness and swelling, go for physiotherapy treatment. Here are questions to guide you when seeking physiotherapy treatment:

How Do Physiotherapists Diagnose Osteoarthritis?

An experienced physiotherapist may ask you some questions to know when the pain started in order to understand its pattern. They clinically examine the joints and assess their movements to know the cause of the problem. They then share their findings with the patient's doctor to confirm the condition. X-ray imaging and blood work are some of the tests a physiotherapist could use to diagnose a joint problem. If you test positive for osteoarthritis, your physiotherapist will devise a treatment plan with rational goals.

What Goes On in the Examination Room?

If you choose to treat osteoarthritis through physiotherapy, your physiotherapist will first conduct a focused examination. They will first evaluate your gait—your walking style—to assess if the motion around your knee will change when as the walking phase changes. A physiotherapist may also manipulate the structures around your knee with their hands—palpation—to find the painful areas and identify other abnormalities.

How far does your knee straighten or bend? A physiotherapist will use a special instrument to assess the knee movement or motion before they decide which physiotherapy treatment to give. They also assess your muscular attachments to know if the knee pain is due to muscular imbalance or weakness.

How Will Physiotherapy Help You?

If you follow the physiotherapist's instructions during the treatment, you should notice positive results within the first few sessions. When giving the physio treatment, most physiotherapists aim at reducing knee inflammation and pain and stabilising the motions of the knee joint. Besides strengthening the knee, physiotherapy also strengthens the calves, pelvis and hip muscles. If your knee cap is affected, your physiotherapist will use certain techniques to align it and improve its function. The treatment may also improve your muscle length, balance, agility and ability to do activities such as squatting and walking.

A good physiotherapist will devise a treatment or exercise plan that meets your specific needs. Besides using therapeutic exercises, a physiotherapist could also use treatment options such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture and manual techniques to help you manage osteoarthritis. They may also advise you to upgrade your lifestyle—stay active, lose weight, eat more fruits and vegetables and minimise processed or fried foods.