Osteoarthritis? Physiotherapy can help! Osteoarthritis (OA) causes degeneration of the cartilage in joints and is present in more than 50% of people older than 60 years of age. The knee joint is commonly affected by OA, causing pain, stiffness, decreased activity and lost time at work.

Current research shows that physiotherapy can significantly reduce these symptoms. A recent study looked at the benefit of physiotherapy in patients diagnosed with moderate-to-severe knee OA. Outcomes were compared between a group of patients who had arthroscopic knee surgery followed by physiotherapy and a group who had physiotherapy only. After two years, there were no differences between those who had surgery and those who had physiotherapy alone with respect to pain, stiffness and physical function.

Another recent study compared the potential benefits of a home-based exercise program to a clinically-based physiotherapy program for patients with knee OA. After 4 weeks, those in the clinical physiotherapy group had an improvement of 52% in physical function compared to 26% in the home-exercise group. What does physiotherapy treatment consist of for knee OA? The physiotherapist will develop an individualized program depending on the patient’s current pain, physical function and goals. Treatment may consist of a stretching and strengthening program, manual therapy, education regarding the patient’s condition, ultrasound, laser and acupuncture.