What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition. It cannot be reversed at this time. There are multiple treatment options with varying degrees of success. The goal is to slow the progression, relieve pain, improve function and quality of life. Exercise and motion are proven therapeutic interventions. However, it is hard to move when you’re in pain.
OA knee braces can help support the knee and unload the pressure to improve function that is required with varying levels of activity from walking, gardening, hiking, running, cycling, hockey, golf, tennis, pickleball, etc.
The Who, What, and Where…
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. OA is the more common form, and the knee is a very common location for it to occur. OA is a degenerative condition, often referred to as “wear-and-tear,” and is commonly found in people over 50 years old, although it occurs in younger individuals as well. Weekend warriors and aging athletes are often forced to deal with OA at some point.
OA In the knee is caused by the gradual wearing away of the cartilage. Articular cartilage lines the surface of the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and the underside of the patella (kneecap). Its purpose is to protect the surface of the bone at the joint and helps produce synovial fluid for joint lubrication.
The How any Why…
With age and injury, cartilage can be damaged and eventually wear away. Over time, cartilage can weaken, thin, and wear away. It becomes frayed and roughened. In its vain attempt to heal, we often see bony spurs develop around the joint line. This causes increased contact between the bones in the joint which results in more bony spurs. The joint space is reduced due to the encroachment of the spurs as well as a loss of synovial fluid.
OA can also develop after injury. Traumatic injuries can damage the cartilage which leads to the same fate. That old “football injury” or repeated trauma from running can result in OA years later. Ligament and meniscus injuries cause joint instability which alters the joint alignment, affects weight bearing and function, and leads to excessive wear. The knee is a battleground. When there is any body malalignment due to hip and/or ankle joint restriction, pelvic dysfunction, foot collapse, etc., the knee bears the brunt. Over time, compensation is more difficult. The knee joint can change severely, pain is unbearable. The other knee and other joints are affected. This eventually results in the need for a Total Knee Replacement.
The Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:
- Pain and swelling
- Joint Instability – weakness or buckling sensation
- Stiffness - difficult to straighten or bend fully
- Pain may be worse in the morning, getting up from a seated or resting position
- Sensitive to changes in the weather
- Physical exam with your therapist, MD, or Rheumatologist
- Assess walking pattern, range of motion, palpate for swelling and tenderness.
- Imaging - an X-ray is the most common. CT or MRI may also be used when other structures are involved.
OA knee braces vary depending on the stage of the condition, location, and body type.
Even if you do not require a custom brace, all clients are assessed to determine the right brace based on the diagnosis, activity level and lifestyle.
To learn what is right for you, book a fitting appointment with Daniel Snider.
Click here to book a Brace Consult in the Aurora clinic or click here to book a Brace Consult in the Markham clinic.
Written by: DANIEL SNIDER
Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, Certified Athletic Therapist