ADHD: A Parenting Guide

3 Types Of Physical Therapy For Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one form of arthritis that commonly affects the weight-bearing joints, especially the knee. Many people take pain-relievers to help reduce pain and swelling, while increasing physical functioning. Several forms of physical therapy (PT) are ideal in combination with other treatments to manage OA.


Hydrotherapy is a type of PT that involves water. Your PT center may offer hydrotherapy or your therapist might suggest finding a location, such as your own pool or a community center, where you can perform water exercises. One of the major benefits of hydrotherapy is it can be a good way to incorporate low-impact exercises. Cardio, whether to lose weight or improve fitness, is an important part of managing OA. If you can find a pool or hot tub with heated water, the warmth can decrease pain and reduce stiffness. Warm water is also associated with relaxing the muscles surrounding the knee that may also contribute to pain and stiffness.

Strengthening Exercises

PT also involves regular exercises to improve strength in the knee and in the surrounding tissues. When the knee and surrounding tissues become stronger, it is much easier for the soft tissues to support the joint and minimize excess movement from laxity. Exercises for other body parts are also important. For example, you may be prescribed exercises that help strengthen the thighs and buttocks. People with OA may find these areas are weak and not doing their fair share of the work when walking or climbing stairs. Strengthening these muscle groups will place less stress on the knees, thereby reducing pain, improving functioning, and helping delay worsening OA.


Stretching exercises are also necessary when you have OA, because they can help loosen tight muscles and improve range-of-motion. In some cases, you might start doing stretches passively, meaning your therapist will manipulate your leg and assist you in a stretch. Sometimes tools might be necessary to help you preform a stretch. For example, a towel might be used to help you reach your feet and stretch your hamstrings. As you become more limber, you can complete these stretches with less assistance. For some people, doing stretching exercises when they first wake up, while lying in bed, can reduce stiffness and make it easier to get out of bed and start moving around.

PT is an invaluable part of managing OA, especially when used with other treatments like pain-relievers and joint injections. Doing regular exercises can reduce pain, decrease limitations, and may help delay the need for a knee replacement. For more information, contact a local physical therapy clinic.