PT Tip of the Month Archive


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disorder primarily affecting the cartilage of joints causing cartilage destruction and bony remodeling. During initial degeneration joint laxity and swelling will develop which will cause joint instability and knee buckling. As the degeneration progresses, pain will continue to worsen and a decreased willingness to move the joint will eventually cause joint contractures and limit available motion.

Risk Factors of OA

  1. Genetic link
  2. Obesity
  3. Weakness in the quadriceps muscles
  4. Joint impact or repetitive impact and twisting in the joint
  5. Job requiring kneeling and squatting with heavy lifting

Causes of OA

Osteoarthritis is the result of many causes. Mechanical injury either from a major force or repeated minor stresses can lead to osteoarthritis. Joint immobilization can also lead to destruction of cartilage due to decreased movement of synovial fluid within the joint.

Conservative Treatment of OA

The damage caused by OA is irreversible, but non-conservative treatment, especially during the initial disease advancement, can slow the progression of the disease and decrease all symptoms. The focuses of treatment include:

  1. Education on preventing deforming forces through the affected joint
  2. Development of a home exercise program to minimize symptoms
  3. Decrease the affects of stiffness through active range of motion exercises and joint mobilization techniques
  4. Splinting and/or assistive equipment to minimize stress or correct joint positioning
  5. Increase range of motion through stretching of tight muscle, joint and soft tissue restrictions
  6. Improve strength and muscle endurance through low-intensity resistance exercise
  7. Improve balance
  8. Improve physical conditioning through nonimpact or low-impact aerobic exercise

How to protect your joints

  1. Monitor and stop activities when discomfort or fatigue begins to develop
  2. Exercise should be performed in frequent but short episodes
  3. Alternate activities to avoid fatigue
  4. Decrease level of activity or stop activities if joint pain develops and last more than 1 hour after the activity
  5. Maintain functional range of motion, strength and endurance within your joints
  6. Increase rest when the flares of the disease occurs
  7. Change prolonged positions at least once every 30 minutes
  8. Use correct postures whenever possible
  9. Use appropriate adaptive equipment

In more advanced cases of osteoarthritis, surgical intervention, such as joint replacement, may be indicated. Stay tuned for next months ‘Tip of the Month’ which will include: Total Knee Replacements.

If you feel you may benefit from physical therapy intervention for osteoarthritis call 617-232-PAIN (7246) to schedule an examination in our Brookline office and 617-325-PAIN (7246) for our West Roxbury office.
33 Pond Avenue, Suite 107B Brookline, MA 02445 Tel: (617) 232-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 232-5196
1208B VFW Parkway, Suite 202 West Roxbury, MA 02132 Tel: (617) 325-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 325-7282