A Biomechanical Perspective on Physical Therapy Management of Knee Osteoarthritis

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Altered knee joint biomechanics and excessive joint loading have long been considered as important contributors to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Therefore, a better understanding of how various treatment options influence the loading environment of the knee joint could have practical implications for devising more effective physical therapy management strategies. The aim of this clinical commentary was to review the pertinent biomechanical evidence supporting the use of treatment options intended to provide protection against excessive joint loading while offering symptomatic relief and functional improvements for better long-term management of patients with knee osteoarthritis. The biomechanical and clinical evidence regarding the effectiveness of knee joint offloading strategies, including contralateral cane use, laterally wedged shoe insoles, variable-stiffness shoes, valgus knee bracing, and gait-modification strategies, within the context of effective disease management is discussed. In addition, the potential role of therapeutic exercise and neuromuscular training to improve the mechanical environment of the knee joint is considered. Management strategies for treatment of joint instability and patellofemoral compartment disease are also mentioned. Based on the evidence presented as part of this clinical commentary, it is argued that special considerations for the role of knee joint biomechanics and excessive joint loading are necessary in designing effective short- and long-term management strategies for treatment of patients with knee osteoarthritis.


Therapy, level 5. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2013;43(9):600-619. Epub 11 June 2013. doi:10.2519/jospt.2013.4121

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