Physiotherapy to reduce knee arthritis pain

Low impact exercise and muscle strengthening are key to managing knee arthritis. They are extremely beneficial in early disease to reduce pain, increase function and decreases the need for surgery. In patients with advanced disease requiring knee replacement, pre-operative strengthening can reduce pain, decrease length of stay in hospital and reduce surgical complications.

Benefits of exercise include:
  • Improvement in knee pain
  • Improvement in quality of life
  • Lower rates of surgical intervention
  • Lower rates of chronic disease (diabetes, lung disease, high blood pressure, dementia, etc.)

Three hours of exercise per week (180 minutes) is recommended for good health. This is especially important if you have knee arthritis, as it can both reduce pain and improve function. It is important to not skip exercise as this worsens pain. Exercises that have been shown to improve pain with knee arthritis include:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Aquatic exercise

Physiotherapy before knee joint replacement surgery improves outcome

A supervised clinic-based program with your physiotherapist is recommended for all patients with knee arthritis. If your arthritis is mild to moderate this will help you avoid surgery. For patients with severe arthritis requiring joint replacement, a pre-operative program will reduce length of hospital stay, pain and will optimise the function of your knee replacement.

Exercise should focus on
  • Quadriceps (VMO) strengthening
  • Core strengthening (Hip abductors, abdominal muscles)
  • Range of motion

Below are videos with examples of exercises that your physiotherapist may give you to improve your knee pain. The first outlines the GLA:D program which is an evidence based program for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Other similar exercise programs can be used. Please consult with your physiotherapist to commence a suitable muscle strengthening program.

GLA:D (Good Life with Osteoarthritis: From Denmark)

10 Exercises for Knee Pain


Is Physiotherapy good for knee arthritis and does it help with pain?

A muscular strengthening program should be the baseline treatment for all patients with knee pain. It has been shown to reduce pain and improve function. This may help you avoid knee replacement surgery. If you end up requiring knee replacement, patients who have done a muscular strengthening program have less pain, better function and a faster recovery.

What is the best exercise for knee arthritis?

A neuromuscular program for strengthening the muscles around your knee is the best exercise for knee arthritis and pain. Other good exercises include bike riding, weight training, swimming and walking.

Can arthritis knee pain improve?

Yes, it certainly can. A muscle strengthening program plus weight loss (if required) has been shown to be effective for reducing pain and improving knee function.

How do you do Physiotherapy on your knee?

See your Physio! They will teach you how to do a neuromuscular strengthening program for your knees. If you need a recommendation, contact our rooms and we would be happy to provide a suggestion.

Is walking good for knee pain?

Yes, walking and moderate physical activity is good for knee pain and is a recommended exercise. Moderate physical activity like walking and bike riding will not ‘wear your knee out’ and has been shown to reduce pain.

Can you walk with no cartilage in your knee?

Yes, even with no cartilage in your knee  you can walk and start a strengthening program with your physiotherapist. Strong muscles are similar to having good suspension on your car, the road underneath may be rough but you will feel the bumps less.

Does knee pain ever go away?

Yes, it is our goal to help you reduce your pain to a manageable level. This may be through non-surgical treatment such as an exercise program, weight loss and injections. For severe pain, a knee replacement can be an excellent  option to reduce pain and improve function.


West Perth & Canning vale