Knee Arthritis: How’s PT Going to Help?

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is an extremely common condition that frequently affects people especially as we get older.  Knee pain, morning stiffness, sensation of “catching” or “giving out”, clicking noise in the joint, decreased motion, and resultant difficulty with walking and stairs are all common symptoms. With OA, the cartilage in the knee wears down and symptoms gradually increase over time.

When people discover that they have knee OA, they may think that a series corticosteroid shots followed by surgery once the shits are no longer effective is their only option because nothing else can “fix “the arthritis. That’s not true – PT can help!

No, physical therapy will not “cure” or “fix” the OA in your knee, but it CAN help reduce your pain and improve your function! Here is a list of just some of the factors that a physical therapist can help you improve

  • Range of motion in your knee joint and flexibility of the muscles in your knee, hip, and ankle that may be impacting your movement and walking
  • Strength in the muscles of your knee (quad and hamstring) – which will help reduce the impact on the joint by helping absorb some of the force when standing and walking


  • Strength in the muscles of your hips and ankles, – if these muscles aren’t doing their share of the work then that increases impact on the knee!
  • Balance
  • Walking/Gait, including teaching you to use an assistive device if needed
  • Mobility between the bones of your knee

Improving these factors can help to reduce your pain and improve your function!

Additionally, even if you choose to get knee surgery, improving the range of motion and strength of your knee before surgery will help speed your recovery after surgery!

All in all, if you have knee OA that is causing pain and impacting your function, give physical therapy a try – you may be surprised!

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