Knee arthritis is a quite common disease and from the pathological point of view is not just the degeneration of cartilage but of all the joint and periarticular environment.
It occurs in patients older than 55, overweight, with a history of osteoarthritis in the family. It may occur earlier in patients operated of meniscectomy and/or ligament reconstructions.
Unlike what you may think, the common patient with knee arthritis get huge benefits from long-term rehabilitation program carried out in the pool and gym. The success of the treatment depends of course on the severity of the disease, but also on the seriousness with which the patient undertakes it.
Patient must be aware of the fact that the pathology of which is affected is chronic and worsening so we cannot cure him, but we can still help him to live without having to suffer too much and without having to give up physical activities.
Symptoms are very consistent here – pain in the knee, swelling, limp walking, feelings of resistance in the joint and cracking noises coming from the knee. Although, further testing is always carried out during our diagnosis to ensure we choose the right course of treatment.
This surgery is recommended in cases of severe knee osteoarthritis, where pain is persistent and movement is severely impaired, and where diagnostic X-Rays have confirmed the severity.
In general, we mainly recommend these treatments to the over 60’s, both with a view to the duration of the prosthesis, and because as age increases, demand for physical performance falls. The prosthetic surgery should be delayed as long as possible in patients who continue to maintain sufficient functionality and have tolerable pain. If osteoarthritis affects the articulation of a young person, operations such as osteotomies are preferred as they correct the axes of load, reducing the stress on load-bearing joints.
When helping patients through their post-operative recovery, we first aim to recover their full range of motion, then muscle strength, then their co-ordination through a customised programme of aquatherapy and physiotherapy. This method usually has patients back on their feet after around 10-15 days following surgery, and on their way towards full recovery.
Our rehabilitation programmes focus on reducing pain and improving the joint’s range of motion, to improve overall quality of life in the sufferer. Although, weight-loss, avoiding excessive exertion and maintaining correct posture are all very important here as well.
The treatment consists in 3 fundamental aspects:
• Control the symptoms with physical therapy (laser, ultrasound, iontophoresis) and massage;
• Reduce weight with appropriate dietary advice and execution of the threshold test to detect heart rates suitable for aerobic training;
• Strengthen the muscles with exercises because only by working on muscle dampers we can preserve the joint. When setting the treatment, will be performed at first mild toning exercises of the quadriceps, the flexor and calf in both closed and open kinetic chain; at the same time you can begin aerobic activity and exercises to improve core stability. If pain does not appear during the execution of the exercises you can begin field exercises designed to bring the patient to the return of daily and even sport activities, paying attention to the quality of the movement.