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Exercise Physiology For Hip & Knee Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee and hip joints is very common, especially as we get older. Approximately 2.1 million Australians are affected, and about 25% of Australians over the age of 45 report symptoms. It is a condition that involves changes to the joint including breakdown of the cartilage inside the joint, and this can then also affect the bones and ligaments around the joint. The knee and hip are the two most commonly involved joints because they are two of the major weight-bearing joints in our body.

Mounting evidence clearly shows that structured exercise should be a frontline treatment for osteoarthritis, particularly for the hip and knee. The Royal Australia College of General Practitioners (RACGP) put out new guidelines for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis in 2018. Within these guidelines, exercise and weight-loss were the only treatments that were strongly recommended across all demographics. While osteoarthritic changes to the joint cannot be reversed, exercise can effectively reduce pain and manage the symptoms, improve your ability to perform normal daily activities, minimise disability and improve quality of life. Exercise physiologists, who are trained to prescribe exercise for the treatment of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, are well skilled to develop and prescribe exercise programs for patients who are suffering from knee and hip osteoarthritis.

Steps To Exercise Physiology Management Of Osteoarthritis of the Knee and Hip

Initial Assessment

Your exercise physiology treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee and/or hip begins with a comprehensive initial assessment of the affected joints. It starts with taking a comprehensive history of your current symptoms as well as any previous injuries and other medical conditions. andWe will review your current exercise ability work with you to set goals for your treatment program. Your joint range of motion will be assessed alongside assessment of day-to-day movements such as stair climbing, walking and standing up out of a chair. This assessment gives your exercise physiologist a thorough insight into how your osteoarthritis is affecting your life and your ability to perform everyday tasks, and guides their exercise prescription to help you achieve your goals.

Treatment Program

Your exercise physiology treatment plan is developed based on your personal goals, the results of your physical assessment, your current functional ability and your confidence with exercise. You will progress through the program at an ideal pace as guided by your therapist, and gradually advance through three main stages;

  1. Specific local strength exercises for muscles around the knee and hip
  2. Increase joint range of movement at the knee and hip, and also any other joints or muscles that are shown to be restricted during your initial assessment.
  3. Progress exercises to full-body exercises to increase strength and confidence in movements that replicate activities of daily living such as stair climbing

Your treatment will usually begin with exercises to increase strength of the muscles surrounding the knee and hip joints to help stabilise the joints and improve your symptoms. As your strength and pain improve your treatment will progress to increase range of motion at the hip and knee. The final step of your exercise physiology program is to progress again to full-body exercises that will have great carry over to day-to-day activities.

At central Performance every exercise physiology program is professionally designed for each individual client. Every session is adjusted and carefully progressed according to your current symptoms, and we consistently link your progress back to achieving your overall goals.

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