Knee Osteoarthritis… Is Surgery The Only Option?

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Knee Osteoarthritis.. Is Surgery The Only Option 

So you have been told you have knee arthritis. Will you need a knee replacement?

The answer is a resounding NO! In recent years there has been a shift towards conservative management of knee osteoarthritis (OA).


Why Conservative Management?  

Conservative management (chiropractic, physiotherapy, exercise physiology) of knee OA in some but not all cases can be as effective as Arthroscopy for the reduction of osteoarthritic knee pain.  Certainly knee arthroscopy can be fantastic when applied to the appropriate knee injury. A bucket handle meniscus tear is one of these instances.  


Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is effective for pain reduction in some but not ALL osteoarthritic knee cases. There are concerns that arthroscopy is being  performed in patients where the research has shown that weight loss and exercise may be just as effective.

Orthopaedic surgeon Professor Ian Harris has voiced his concerns about the increasing number of knee surgeries. He is questioning if surgeons are performing arthroscopy for knee pain in pain presentations where the research indicates that the outcomes may similar too conservative interventions. Following the links below to read more on. this topic. 

There was also an SBS insight episode dedicated to knee surgery and the non-surgical management strategies for knee osteoarthritis. 

watch it here

So What Can We Do?

An osteoarthritic knee thrives on less load, and more support. We can achieve this in 2 ways.

1. Lose Weight  

Losing weight reduces the load on joints and connective tissue. A 2005 study found that in obese patients a 3kg reduction in weight would reduce knee pressure by up too 12kg.

2: Exercise

Like weight loss, strengthening the knee will reduce pressure on the knee. To begin with,  building strength and endurance will be slow, with only slight changes in pain. After about about 2 weeks you notice improvements in the intensity of pain, which will steadily improve over a 6 – 12 week period.  


To begin walking may be a little painful. But eventually it will more comfortable. Walking  moves  synovial fluid around the joint. Thinks of synovial fluid  as nutrients for joints and cartilage. Walking also builds muscular strength and endurance burns calories and improves mental and cardiovascular health.

To begin aim for a 20 minute walk at a moderate pace. As your knee becomes more comfortable start to increase both the length of the walk and intensity. Begin to challenge the knee with some small hill

Supine Knee Extension Exercise

Supine knee extensions are a safe strengthening exercise that place minimal strain on the knee. 

1. Lay on your back with a rolled towel under your knee

2. Press the back off the knee into towel

3: Straighten the leg by lifting the foot keeping the back off knee pressed into the towel.

4. Hold this position for 15 seconds, lower leg to start position and rest for 10 seconds.

5. You will feel the quadriceps muscle (the big muscles above the knee) fatigue 

6. Repeat for 5 repetitions.  If Pain is greater than 3/10 during exercise and last for 24hors please seek the advice of a health professional. 

The key point to remember that surgery is not bad. It helps a lot of people suffering from knee pain. However in many knee OA cases conservative management with treatment and exercise can be as effective and cheaper.  

If need further advice for knee pain associated with knee pain, call 0404404103 or book online at

What Is Arthritis

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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is often referred to as a single disease. In fact, it is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculo-skeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet.

Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another) and surrounding structures. This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food.

There is a widely held belief that arthritis is simply a consequence of age, the pain of growing old. But it is not a natural part of ageing. In fact 2.4 million of all people suffering from the disease are of working age.

Research suggests that early intervention can delay the onset of the disease and may reduce the number of cases of osteoarthritis by about 500,000 within 15 years.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

As Arthritis is a joint problem, increasing joint movement can be achieved by using techniques such as joint mobilisation, stretching, dry needling and muscle release Increasing joint movement is important for imbibing healthy movement promoting nutrients into the joints and intervertebral discs. It also promotes the movement of synovial fluid within the joint. Synovial fluid acts as a lubricant for the joint surfaces, allowing smoother movement and healthier joints.

With Osteoarthritis joint movement becomes reduced. Chiropractic treatment focus on creating movement in stiff vertebral joints. As well as helping with movement, it helps with the imbibing of synovium within the joint capsules, and stimulate pain inhibiting chemical from the brain.

What Can You  Do? 

Move, move move and move some more. Healthy joints love to move, it provides lubrication and nourishment to joints, as well improving emotional well-being. Regular chiropractic can improve your joint movement and health, and regular exercise such as, yoga, pilates, swimming, walking surfing, cycling, weights all help to improve joint health and manage the pain caused by arthritis.


More information can also be found on the arthritis website


Vaughn Bolack- Chiropractor