Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Knee Osteoarthritis, also called knee arthritis, is a typical joint disorder that affects individuals when they get older. According to the World Health Organization, knee osteoarthritis has now affected around 3 billion people worldwide.

It is crucial to find appropriate treatments for knee osteoarthritis since it can make daily activities difficult. At this time, physical therapy is one of the promising treatment approaches to manage pain.

Today, we will discuss how physical therapy can manage knee osteoarthritis and make life more comfortable for people living with it.

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis in the knee happens when the cartilage in your knee joints starts wearing off over time. Cartilage acts as a cushion that protects the tips of bones.

When aging or extensive movement destroys the cartilage, the knee joints rub against each other. The rubbing causes friction between the joints, which results in knee osteoarthritis.

Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Osteoarthritis hurts your knee and influences the way you move. It also shows particular symptoms that help you identify the disease. The common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include,

    • Pain
    • Stiffness in the joints
    • Swelling
    • Cracking or popping sounds
    • Weakness of the joints

Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a healthcare approach that improves physical function and mobility. You require a particular type of healthcare provider called a physical therapist to avail of the physical therapy service.

They will assist you in recovering from accidents or illnesses. Physical therapy has a significant role in reducing discomfort and improving people’s general quality of life.

Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Physical therapy for the knee plays a crucial role in the fight against knee osteoarthritis. This non-surgical approach aims to improve people’s well-being by managing knee-related issues, says Arthritis Health. Let us discuss in detail how physical therapy can be essential to managing knee osteoarthritis.

1. Pain Management

Physical therapists use various procedures to ease knee discomfort, including exercise, manual therapy, or heat and cold treatments. These are all good at managing knee pain effectively.

2. Improved Joint Function

Physical therapists receive training to evaluate joint function and employ specific exercises to enhance joint range of motion. These exercises restore normal joint function and allow you to do daily tasks efficiently.

3. Increased Mobility

Knee osteoarthritis hinders the flexibility of the knee, making it difficult to walk, go upstairs, or even stand for long periods. Physical therapists use strengthening exercises and gait coaching to help patients move better. These exercises target specific muscle groups, improving balance and coordination of the knee joint.

4. Personalized Treatment

Physical therapists design physical therapy programs to meet the unique treatment needs of each person with osteoarthritis. They assess joint health pain levels and then make a customized therapy plan to enhance relief.

5. Pain Medication Reduction

Physical therapy significantly reduces pain sensation and minimizes dependency on pain relievers. Exercise and manual therapy improve patients’ well-being without medication when managing pain naturally.

6. Avoiding Surgery

Successful physical therapy can delay and even eliminate the need for knee replacement surgery. It does so by strengthening muscles around the knee joint.

7. Education and Self Management

Physical therapists educate patients about their illnesses and how to manage it independently. They teach individuals optimal body mechanics to lessen stress on the knee during physical activity. They also provide tips for adopting a healthy lifestyle and home exercises to sustain progress.

Also, Read “What are the 4 stages of osteoarthritis?”

Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

Components of a Physical Therapy Program

A physical therapy program is an organized strategy aimed to assist people in improving their physical health and well-being. Such programs often include several critical components to enhance mobility, and lower pain. The key features of physical therapy include,

1. Assessment

Physiotherapists begin by evaluating a patient’s knee condition. The evaluation includes: checking the range of motion, knee strength, and pain.

2. Education

The second step is to teach patients about their condition and how to manage it. Usually by suggesting lifestyle changes as well as advice on everyday tasks.

3. Exercises

In the third step, physical therapists employ exercises to meet a patient’s needs. The three popular exercise approaches include:

  •  Strengthening

These exercises include leg raises and squats which strengthen knee muscles.

  • Range of Motion

These activities improve the flexibility and mobility of your knees.

  • Aerobics

Low-impact exercises such as walking or stationary bikes improve general fitness without putting stress on the knees.

4. Stretching

The fourth step is gentle stretching. The doctor stretches the calf, thighs, and hamstring increase flexibility and minimize stiffness.

5. Modalities

The fifth component of physical therapy is modalities. It is the way how things are done which include: 

  • Heat and Cold

The therapist may employ heat or ice packs to relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Ultrasound

In this process, therapists use high-frequency sound waves to improve healing and relieve knee pain.

  • Electrical Stimulation

Physical therapists use small electrical currents to treat pain and induce muscle contraction.

6. Manual Therapy

The sixth component is the hands-on treatment, such as massage for joint mobilization. It regains knee movement and lessens pain.

7. Assistive devices

Doctors may advise using braces, crutches, or walking aids to support your knee.

8. Home Exercises Program

The doctor may give the patient exercises and stretches to do at home. The exercises will improve mobility and reduce joint stiffness.

9. Progress Tracking

The final and most crucial component of the therapy program is regular tracing. It allows the therapist to track the patient’s progress and make program adjustments as needed.

Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

Potential Challenges and Considerations

Physical therapy is an efficient method to treat knee osteoarthritis. However, it may not be appropriate for everyone. Here, we will look at various difficulties and considerations related to physical therapy.

Individuals Variability

People suffering from knee osteoarthritis have varying degrees of pain, mobility, and general health. As a result, the efficacy of physical therapy varies from person to person.

Time Commitment

Physical treatment often requires an extensive time commitment. Patients must regularly attend sessions, and people with a busy schedule and limited mobility can not do so.

Initial Discomfort

Some activities may produce discomfort at first, which can be disheartening. On the other hand, a qualified therapist will alter the program to reduce pain while offering advantages.

Insurance Coverage

The insurance coverage for physical therapy varies greatly. Some plans may have a session restriction or require pre-approval. It is critical to review your insurance policy to understand your coverage policy.


Insurance does cover some expenses, but copays and out-of-pocket fees can quickly pile up with it. This cost load may discourage some people from obtaining physical treatment.

Mobility Issues

Some people have severe knee osteoarthritis, so getting physical therapy sessions can be challenging. Transportation and accessibility difficulties can be significant barriers.

Long Term Commitment

Physical therapy is a long-term treatment for knee osteoarthritis, a chronic illness. Maintaining motivation and commitment to a therapy program might be problematic over time.

Other Health Conditions

Patients experiencing knee osteoarthritis have other health conditions. Physical therapy can interfere with the issue and may make it worse. Hence, when developing a treatment plan, therapists must consider co-existing needs.

Does Physical Therapy Help Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

Consulting a Healthcare Specialist

Consult with a medical advisor before commencing any treatment, such as physical therapy, is crucial. They can provide you with a precise diagnosis and the best possible treatment. It protects both your health and safety.

How SNS Can Help You Treat Knee Osteoarthritis

Are you experiencing unwanted pain in the knee because of osteoarthritis?

SNS rheumatology can be your support in managing knee osteoarthritis. Our experts have more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare field.

They can help you provide simple yet effective physical therapy advice and treat your illness effectively. You can book an appointment with them and get answers to your knee health-related queries now.

Key Takeaways

  • To sum up the question: does physical therapy help osteoarthritis of the knee?
  • Physical therapy holds significance in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.
  • It provides various benefits, such as pain relief, improved joint function, and enhanced mobility.
  • Consult a healthcare specialist to analyze your needs and build a personalized therapy plan.

Remember, while knee osteoarthritis can be problematic, there are effective ways to enhance quality of life. Feel free to consider physical therapy as a beneficial alternative for better knee health

Dr. Qaisar Usmani

Meet Dr. Qaisar Usmani, a Board Certified Rheumatologist with over 20 years of experience in the field, currently serving as Section Chief at Monmouth Medical Center and GPHA, Inc. in Pennsylvania, specializing in the treatment of various Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal diseases.

Dr. Sadia Ghafoor
Dr. Sadia Ghafoor

Meet Dr. Sadia Ghafoor, a board certified specialist in rheumatology who completed her medical training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry School of Osteopathic Medicine and her fellowship in rheumatology at the State University of New York Stony Brook campus, with additional board certification in internal medicine.

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