Osteoarthritis and physical therapy

Anthony Crespo
Anthony Crespo Clinic Manager at AHS

In a previous blog we reviewed a study that showed physical therapy as being more effective than glucocorticoid injections in individuals suffering with knee osteoarthritis(OA).(may post link to article here). An estimated 27 million Americans have some form of OA according to the centers for disease control and prevention, 1 in 2 people in the United States may develop knee OA by the age of 85(1). 1 in 4 may develop hip OA in their lifetime. 

What are the potential causes?


  • Aging increases your risk of developing many disorders including OA. Primarily the degeneration and aging of the cartilage and synovial fluid increases as one gets older.


  • Previous research has shown that some are more susceptible to developing OA due to various different reasons. Some people have a genetic predisposition to having difficulty forming cartilage.



  • Jobs that require repetitive squatting, bending, and twisting (construction and Landscaping) are at greater risk of developing OA than those who do more sedentary work.


  • Athletes who repeatedly use a specific joint heavily such as pitchers,football lineman, runners, and even professional bowlers.

Body mass 

  • Being overweight can also be a cause for developing OA because of the increased load placed on the joints.

How does it feel to have OA?

Typically OA causes stiffness and pain in the affected joint some common symptoms include:

  • Stiffness in the joint especially in the morning which ease in less than 30 minutes.
  • Stiffness in the joint after sitting for a long period of time
  • Pain when you press on the joint
  • Increased bone growth around the joint that you may be able to feel. 

How can a physical therapist help?

A Physical therapists may:

  • Perform an in depth examination to determine your symptoms.
  • Observe what ROM is difficult for you to complete.
  • Design an individualized exercise plan to address your current pain
  • Recommend simple lifestyle changes that can help keep you from experiences more pain

Although the symptoms and overall progression of OA are different for each person, starting an individualized exercise program and focusing on the risk factors can help relieve your symptoms and slow down the advancement of OA. 



  1. Osteoarthritis. (2020, February 22). Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351925
  2. Physical therapy guide to osteoarthritis. (2020, October 05). Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconditionsdetail/physical-therapy-guide-to-osteoarthritis

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