Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee Osteoarthritis

You wake up, the sun is shining, you climb out of bed and realize that your knee feels stiff. Again. After about ten minutes the stiffness eases and you head out for your morning walk. You notice that you can’t walk as fast as you could a couple months ago, and you have started shortening your walking distance due to the pain in your knee. Over the last month you have also noticed weakness in the muscles around the knee, reduced balance and grinding in the knee joint with movement.

Does any of that sound familiar? If so, you may have knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative condition that often involves the spine, hip and knee joints. When the articular cartilage between two bones breaks down, the underlying bone becomes exposed, which can be painful. An x-ray of the knee can help confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, although symptoms do not always correlate with the degree of degenerative change seen on x-ray.

While it is usually not possible to identify the exact cause of this condition, factors which increase the risk of osteoarthritis include increasing age, a family history of osteoarthritis, obesity, a previous injury that has caused trauma to the joint and a sport or occupation that has involved repetitive stress on the knee joint over an extended period of time.

There are a wide range of physiotherapy treatments that can be quite effective at alleviating pain, reducing stiffness and improving range of motion, flexibility, muscle strength, balance and overall function. These treatments may include education, manual therapy, exercise prescription, modalities and use of a gait aid, such as a cane.

Exercise can be quite beneficial to help reduce symptoms and improve function. Consider your physiotherapist your exercise expert who can put together a home exercise program for you which includes specific exercises for range of motion, stretching, strengthening, aerobic exercise and balance training. As well, swimming and/or cycling are often well tolerated and help improve aerobic conditioning, joint lubrication and can help with weight management.

Manual therapy involves different hands on techniques performed by your physiotherapist which can help reduce stiffness and improve range of motion. We will often measure knee range of motion before and after treatment and between physiotherapy visits to determine how effective the treatment is for you. Modalities, which include heat, cold, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and acupuncture may also help to reduce symptoms. Ultimately, our goal is to reduce pain and improve function and the treatment you choose will depend on your goals, the severity of your symptoms and your current level of function.

Sun City Physiotherapy Locations


1468 St. Paul Street, Kelowna, BC
Phone: 250-861-8056
more info


103-437 Glenmore Road, Kelowna, BC
Phone: 250-762-6313
more info

Lake Country/Winfield

40-9522 Main St., Lake Country, BC
Phone: 250-766-2544
more info

Lower Mission

3970 Lakeshore Road, Kelowna, BC
Phone: 778-699-2006
more info

Treatment Options for Hip Osteoarthritis

Hip osteoarthritis is a common condition that involves the degeneration of the articular cartilage of the hip joint. If you have this condition and are noticing an increase in pain and a decrease in physical function you may be wondering what treatment options are available to you.

With osteoarthritis of the hip you may feel a constant ache localized to the groin and side of your hip and sometimes extending into the front of your thigh and knee. The hip often feels stiff, especially first thing in the morning when you get out of bed and it can make activities of daily living much more painful including standing, walking and stairs. It can also make it difficult to put your socks on, get into and out of your car and even get on and off of the toilet.

Stiffness, pain and having difficulty with many previously easy daily activities may lead you to want to do less physical activity. The trouble is, not moving will often lead to weakness, further stiffness and general deconditioning.

A physiotherapist can help design a treatment program with a focus on decreasing pain, increasing range of motion and flexibility, improving core stability, gaining muscle strength and endurance and improving general conditioning. Other functional goals often include improving walking pattern, speed and distance, ability to go up and down stairs without pain and better control going from sit to stand.

This is often accomplished through a combination of education, manual therapy and exercise. An exercise program is often extremely beneficial to help improve physical function and decrease pain. A physiotherapist is an excellent resource to put together a safe and effective home exercise program for you to perform daily at home or at your local gym. Also, if you enjoy swimming, bring this up with your physiotherapist as aquatic exercise is a great form of treatment for hip osteoarthritis.

Other possible physiotherapy treatments that may be effective for some individuals with arthritis of the hip include: acupuncture, massage, heat on the muscles around the hip, ice, TENS, supportive footwear and/or a gait aid such as a cane or walking poles. It is important to talk with your doctor about your arthritis to discuss other treatments that may be beneficial to help manage your symptoms. Certain medications may be helpful, but it is important to bring this up with your doctor to be sure they are appropriate for you. Also, if you are overweight, a weight management program can be extremely beneficial to decrease the stress on your joints. Since nutrition plays a crucial role in weight management, it is important to have this discussion with your doctor.

A small portion of individuals with hip osteoarthritis will eventually opt to have a total hip replacement. This is often the case when symptoms are progressively getting worse and significantly limiting activities of daily living. If you have had a total hip replacement a physiotherapist guided post-operative hip strengthening program is ideal in order to decrease pain, improve your hip function and return to your active lifestyle.

Krista Smith is a Registered Physiotherapist and associate at Sun City Physiotherapy’s downtown, St. Paul Street location. She can be contacted at 250-861-8056 or email