Older Patients Get a Leg Up on Knee OsteoarthritisWhat do knee pain, loss of motion, and decreased muscle strength have in common? They're all symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition of joint and bone damage. Knee OA is found in many people over age 65.
Exercises to reduce pain and improve strength and motion seem to help with knee OA. Physical therapists are always looking for new and better exercises to use.
Knee OA causes some of the same problems as knee ligament injuries. For example, patients may feel that the knee will "give way" or buckle during daily activities. They may also feel that the knee joint is "slipping."
Physical therapists tried using an exercise program for ligament injury to help a patient with OA. A 73-year-old woman with mild knee OA in both legs agreed to try this program. The program worked on two things: balance and agility. Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. This helps the knee handle sudden changes in direction and twisting movements. Balance helps keep the knee steady when pushed off center.
Balance and agility can help protect osteoarthritic knees. Some exercises used for athletes after knee ligament injury can be used with older people who have mild knee OA. To adapt the exercises for knee OA, physical therapists make them less intense and avoid putting too much load on arthritic knees. This program can help older people keep active with less pain and more function.
G. Kelley Fitzgerald, PT, PhD, OCS, et al. Agility and Perturbation Training For a Physically Active Individual With Knee Osteoarthritis. In Physical Therapy. April 2002. Vol. 82. No. 4. Pp. 372-382.
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