Knee arthritis… End of the road or the start of a new journey? - Alba Physiotherapy
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Knee arthritis… End of the road or the start of a new journey?

Knee arthritis… End of the road or the start of a new journey?


So many times we hear patients develop ongoing and worsening knee issues including knee arthritis. Some stop walking, meeting friends, even going out in public. 

Activity, losing weight or even feeling better with exercise is not an option for them.

A diagnosis of wear and tear, degeneration, arthritis are all things which can unfortunately feel like a nail in the coffin and many feel that life is heading that way fast! 

I will often hear patients say ‘it’s just arthritis…I need to find a way to live with it’. Although we agree with that, there is a big BUT! 

Here’s some things about knee issues:

  • They can be very stubborn
  • They need a full body assessment so you can find out not only what your knee is doing (or not doing) BUT what the REST Of the body is doing to compensate. That can be a huge reason why you STILL can’t walk properly even on the ‘good days’. 
  • Sometimes they can not be a quick fix 
  • Arthritis is NOT the end of the story…..

A search with Google and you’ll find a huge amount of info on the whys and background to arthritis, wear and tear etc. 

You’ll find images, videos and even some tips on the first line of defence to get into battle with this condition. 

However, the well can run somewhat dry then! 

Even attempting some exercises that you find can in many cases make you feel worse, set you back for days, and worse – set you mentally back for months!

Here are the main issues with degeneration or wear and tear of the knee:

  • The shock absorption ability reduces which can lead to issues elsewhere trying to compensate
  • It can often be degenerative in nature. (That being said, no one can say how quick and how much so this can often sound worse than the reality)
  • Sometimes the symptoms DON’T match the X-ray… and we’ve seen this regularly, first hand
  • You can feel symptoms of pain, stiffness, instability, weakness, lack of confidence in the knee and sometimes only feel a niggle!! …and yes…the pain can move around … AND YES often does not link with what you’ve done or not done, especially when you’ve had it for a while. 
  • It can grind, creak, click, swell! It can even lock ..quite the repertoire! But mostly, it can affect you living your life like you want to. 
  • True arthritis is not thought of as reversible however IT IS NOT doom and gloom (I’m getting to why I promise)

Every Knee is UNIQUE…Read this a few times. Every knee is unique. Every body is unique!! 

Meaning why would a generic program work for all?

There are more treatment techniques than pain killers, injection and eventual total knee replacement and surgery. 

The hardest thing to do for your journey forward is break the negative cycle of symptoms stopping your movement. (You will often be moving differently, ie how we were NOT designed to move), rest from the things that make you feel worse (sometimes resting completely), muscles and area weakening, knee being more exposed and you move even more with compensations to help it), unable to get back to the level you were before, meaning more weakening around the area, more compensations and ultimately doing less that what you did before.

It’s a Vicious Cycle:

Pain Cycle Graphic

It is totally understandable that patients get to the point of acceptance with a cycle like that can cause more issues, poor sleep, sore back, sore other knee and much more. 

To really get on top of knee issues, it needs a mixture of: 

  • an exercise program (that needs to be tailored and monitored)
  • P.R.I.C.E
  • sometimes support, manual therapy, rehab and a return to activity program

Remember if you have had knee issues for a while, your symptoms can naturally fluctuate and so your exercise needs will too.

It also needs YOU! 

You need to listen to your body.  Work on your self management techniques for flare ups and work on the rest of your body so that it, in turn, supports your knee.

(Your core should be helping and not just the muscles around the knee. What do you do to work on this?)

And being kind to yourself!

Many patients have a journey ahead getting back on track. 

Knees are a fascinating biomechanical joint which can be affected by the rest of the body and can in turn affect the rest of the body! 

When you have a flare up, it can be very easy to blame the exercises, or the new thing (and sometimes that’s what it is), but this is a learning tool. To strengthen an area you essentially need to stress and load it to a certain degree.  This can take time and patience as we cannot control ‘life’ stresses and loading perfectly. 

So speak with your professional, get a full body assessment. 

Find out what you can start doing today that WILL help with all your tomorrows. 

Unless advised to do so, please don’t wait to live for the results on an x-ray!  Find out what you can start doing now, so that the x-ray can just add to your program. 

Your physio can also help with supportive devices, taping and techniques if they feel it will help your knee and allow you to keep moving!

Arthritis is only the ‘end of the line’ if we treat it that way. There isn’t always a quick fix and magic wand.  The body is a super tool that is trying to heal.  It often needs a regular helping hand to get there. 

Watch our Meet the Physio Q&A for even more information and advice on Arthritis and Knee pain.

If you would like to chat further, give us a call at the clinic on 01463 240597 or you can email us on to find out how we can help your knees! 

We run a variety of rehab, strengthening and pilates classes.  We also provide 1-1 physiotherapy including hands on treatments, electrotherapy and programs, you can find more details on them here

Brid Walsh

Brid Walsh

Brid qualified in 2004 with a BSC Honours Degree in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick, Ireland. In evaluating her future path, she spent a summer in Alaska with the Hope Foundation supporting disabilities of various sorts. Her further work experience in the Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin convinced her that Physiotherapy was the direction she wished to specialise in. In 2007 she subsequently qualified from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen with an MSC in Physiotherapy.
Brid Walsh

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