Degenerative Joint Changes image

Degenerative Joint Changes

Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis) of the Knee:

What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Changes?

What are the Causes of Degenerative Joint Changes?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of knee arthritis. Also called wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is characterized by the progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint. As the protective cartilage is worn away, bare bone is exposed within the joint. The bones then rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older and often in individuals with a family history of arthritis. It is more common in patients who are overweight, and weight loss tends to reduce the symptoms. Other factors that can contribute to developing knee arthritis include trauma to the knee, meniscus tears or ligament damage, and fractures to the bone around the joint. Note: Physical therapy may be used in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis in the hopes of avoiding surgical intervention or because surgery is not an option for your body. For details regarding your options, please consult your physician.


Anatomy Overview

The knee is the largest joint in the body. Normal knee function is required to perform most everyday activities. The knee is made up of the lower end of the thighbone (femur), which rotates on the upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella), which slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Large ligaments attach to the femur and tibia to provide stability. The long thigh muscles give the knee strength.

The joint surfaces where these three bones touch are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that cushions the bones and enables them to move easily. All remaining surfaces of the knee are covered by a thin, smooth tissue liner called the synovial membrane. This membrane releases a special fluid that lubricates the knee, reducing friction to nearly zero in a healthy knee. Normally, all of these components work in harmony but disease or injury can disrupt this harmony, resulting in pain, muscle weakness, and reduced function.


What to Expect from Physical Therapy?

After taking the time to learn about the duration, nature and location of your symptoms, you can expect a complete biomechanical assessment during your initial evaluation at Experience Momentum. Because the knee joint is made up of bones that connect to both hip and ankle joints, it will be necessary for your physical therapist to take more into consideration than just the knee itself. By analyzing the way your entire body moves through a variety of tests, your physical therapist will be better able to determine if there are muscles that could be strengthened, stretched or abnormalities in motion at other joints that, if altered, may result in decreased stress to the knee itself. The specific tests and measures performed may include assessments of strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility of specific joints. Functional tests including your ability to walk, run, squat, lunge, climb stairs, or get up from a seated position may be assessed. If the pain is present during specific work or sport-related activities, your physical therapist will work with you to replicate the position/movement in order to completely understand how the demands that are being placed on your body may be contributing to your symptoms. 

In order to develop a plan of care that meets your individual needs, an integral part of your evaluation will be working with you to develop specific goals for physical therapy. What activities were you doing before your knee pain started? How is your knee pain currently affecting your life? What, if any, lifestyle modifications or interventions have you already tried? Would you like us to put you in touch with our personal trainers or nutrition consultants to address other health/fitness goals you have?

At Experience Momentum, your age, general health, level of fitness, past medical history and other interventions you may have tried, will all be taken into account to help develop a rehabilitation program that addresses the goals you have in an environment that is safe, successful, and even a bit fun. You can expect your initial evaluation and subsequent rehab sessions to take approximately one hour. Come dressed in comfortable clothes/shoes that allow you to move freely, and that allow for the injured/painful area to be exposed if possible. The frequency and duration of your visits will vary based upon your specific needs, your doctor’s referral, insurance coverage, etc. If you have specific questions regarding what your rehab experience may entail, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Sources: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00212, http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/generalinfo1/a/kneearthritis.htm