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Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: and their treatment by osteopaths at Eastbourne Osteopathy

The hip and knee are two areas that are commonly affected by osteoarthritis. In both cases symptoms can come on gradually and cause secondary problems elsewhere.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the wear and tear form of arthritis. Although there may be genetic links it is not considered a disease as such. This is in contrast to inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis which has a strong genetic link and a waxing and waning character. OA is a condition of cartilage, and cartilage has a poor blood supply. This means that it relies on movement through the entirety of the joint to flush out waste and receive nutrients. It can be a self fulfilling cycle as the pain encourages the patient to use the joint less.

Hip Osteoarthritis

Hip osteoarthritis and its effect on the body managed by osteopaths
Hip osteoarthritis and its management by osteopaths

Arthritis in the hip can develop insidiously. The body is very good at compensating for problems but unfortunately this can make things worse. In the case of hip arthritis it’s usually extension which is lost first. In order to compensate for this, the pelvis tilts in such a way that you can get full movement without extending the hip joint. This change can be very subtle initially and sometimes it’s not the patient who notices the problem first but a friend or relative who comments on the change of stance. Alongside changes to the joint come changes in the muscles that act upon it. When the hip is held relatively flexed the hip flexors shorten.  The muscles that oppose the hip flexors including the glutes can become stretched and weak. This change in the muscle balance encourages further adaptation which worsens in the health of the joint.

In the long term these changes to the joint can cause a person to developed a more stooped posture. In turn the neck becomes over works and can develop arthritis of its own.

Knee Osteoarthritis

Each knee actually has three joints:

  1. The main hinge joint

  2. The joint between the knee cap and the rest of the knee

  3. The small joint where the fibula (shin bone) meets the rest of the knee

All three can develop osteoarthritis, and may be seen by osteopaths here at Eastbourne Osteopathy, however the main joint and the joint behind the knee cap are most commonly symptomatic. When the knee cap joint becomes arthritic, patients often report pain on walking downstairs. When the knee cap joint becomes arthritic patients might report pain going up and down stairs. Walking down stairs is often the more painful of the two. The knee cap sits within the tendon of the quadriceps, so tightness in these muscles adds pressure to an already irritated joint. Treatment and exercises to focus on the joint and the muscles can grant a quick improvement and allow the longer term changes to be made.

Arthritis in the main knee joint can cause and locking and giving way in the later stages. Sometimes there are secondary problems in the calf or ankle as these areas may have to adapt. Knee arthritis may be associated with previous knee injuries, such as meniscus or ligament tears. Good rehabilitation after these injuries is important for long term joint health.

Treatment of Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis by osteopaths at Eastbourne Osteopathy

Your osteopath is in a good position to spot these early changes possibly even before you do. We can help improve the mobility of the joint in turn allowing the body to heal itself or at least slow the progression of the condition. For symptoms that have already developed we can work to minimise the bodies compensation to them, And for early changes we can relax or string 7 the muscles with exercises to minimise the impact of future arthritis.


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