Treating Osteoarthritis with Physical Therapy

April 15, 2019


Knee Pain That Could Be Something More

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down over time. Knee OA affects nearly 14 million people of which roughly 50 percent are under the age of 65.* Women are more likely than men to get OA and the risk increases with age. Progressive inflammation and damage to bony structures of the knee joint can occur at a younger age if the patient has had a sports injury, enjoys an activity that repetitively stresses the joint or does heavy lifting.



Knee OA may cause pain when rising from a chair, standing, walking and using stairs. The pain may be aggravated by:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Poor alignment of the knee, hip and ankle
  • Excess weight


Physical therapists are movement specialists who help to improve physical activity and promote lifestyle changes that can reduce the symptoms of knee OA. Many times, the first line of defense is exercise and weight reduction to reduce pain and improve mobility. In fact, exercise and physical activity often result in better outcomes than medications, injections and surgery.**

Your physical therapy treatment may include
  • Manual Therapy
  • Taping
  • Exercise program to improve muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion
  • Orthotics
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Education on how to manage flare ups and physical activity


Studies in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy have shown that supervised exercise therapy can help get you on the road to being pain-free. Returning to physical therapy for periodic updates also has been shown to pro-vide benefits over the long-term in conjunction with a tailored home exercise regime to manage symptoms and maintain high levels of physical activity and function.


What Do I Do About Knee Osteoarthritis?

Talk with your physician about your knee pain and ask physical therapy. Your physical therapist can help you manage knee OA and keep you doing the things you love. Fill out our Request an Appointment form and ask about our consultation, or call 888.722.9567.


Michele Beltram, PT, DPT, OCS
Kessler Rehabilitation Center


*Arthritis Care & Research Journal

**New England Journal of Medicine