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What's causing my knee pain?

21 August 2015

"Dear physiotherapist,

"I have been suffering for months with a pain in my right knee which began suddenly. When I was in my late teens I had a twisting injury which got better after a course of physiotherapy.

"I have been to see my GP who said that it could be arthritis. I have been resting but the symptoms have not improved. Could my twisting injury be causing me problems again? What should I do?

"Lee, 45, Chadwell Heath"

"Dear Lee,

Thank you for your enquiry. At Spire Roding we treat a lot of people with knee pain. It is possible that the symptoms you are experiencing could be due to the early stages of osteoarthritis.

"Osteoarthritis can form in patients over the age of 45 and can be related to a previous injury. However there could be a lot of potential causes for your knee pain, so I would therefore suggest that you see a specialist based in our new Bone and Joint Centre for a thorough assessment."

What is osteoarthritis and will it get worse?

"Osteoarthritis is when damage occurs around the joints that the body can’t repair. It is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff, and is the most common form of arthritis in the UK today.

"It is a process characterised with a loss of, or deterioration to, cartilage around the joints. The cartilage is a flexible connective tissue which covers all your joints enabling bones to slide over one another while reducing friction and preventing damage. It helps support your weight when you move, bend, stretch and run.

"There is a misconception that osteoarthritis will progress and cannot be treated; this is not the case if managed correctly. It normally develops in people aged 45 years and older although younger people are also affected by the condition."

Will I require surgery?

"Most symptoms will improve with physiotherapy but if the knee is locking, giving way, or very severely affected then it may be appropriate to seek a surgical opinion on procedures such as knee arthroscopy or knee replacement.

"Joint injections can also be considered during a flare up of symptoms if the pain is too severe to exercise. An orthopaedic consultant will be able to advise you if surgery or injections are the best treatment for you at your consultation."

What can I do to help reduce my pain?

"Weight loss and appropriate supportive footwear with shock absorbing properties, such as trainers, can help to reduce the load placed on the joint. It may be appropriate to liaise with your GP to discuss available medication which may help to manage your pain particularly when experiencing a flare up.

"At Spire Roding we can offer a comprehensive assessment of your knee and surrounding joints assessing for any weakness of muscular tightness in the lower limb. There is evidence to suggest that local muscle strengthening, stretching and general cardiovascular exercise can help reduce pain and increase function in people with osteoarthritis.

In our new Bone and Joint Centre our specialist physiotherapist can offer a biomechanical assessment to thoroughly assess the structure, alignment and function of your body paying particular attention to the feet, ankles, legs, thighs, hips and lower back."

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