Bad knee, bad back?

Are your bad knees giving you a bad back?

Next week is National Arthritis Week
3.85million Australians are affected by some type of arthritis each year with Osteoarthritis (OA)being the most common. Knee arthritis affects over 1.3 million Australians with about 20 000 people a year having knee replacements . At the same time 8 out of 10 Australian will also experience a bad back.

Today's Feel Good Physio Anna-Louise Bouvier joined TODAY to talk about how your bad knees might be giving you a bad back.

What is osteoarthritis of the knee?
The word ‘arthritis’ is a name for a group of more than 100 conditions that affect the joints. Osteoarthritis of the knee results in wear and tear of the cartilage and surrounding structures of the knee. Over time the joint space between the bones narrows causing a deformity that is felt as pain and stiffness. It is more common in women

What are some of the causes?
Weight: Over the age of 30, every 5 kg over your recommended BMI increases your risk of knee OA by 36%. The rise in obesity over the last 10 years has seen a huge increase in knee OA.

Old injuries: such as football injuries can start a process of wear and tear that can lead to problems earlier than usual. The incidence of ex sports people people under 55 needing knee replacements increasing 5 fold in the the last 10 years.* Biomechanics which are things like knock knees and flat feet which change the forces on the knee joint.

Strenuous jobs: involving repetitive movements such as heavy lifting, kneeling and squatting.

Family history: if your parents have/had osteoarthritis, you are more likely to develop it, especially in the hands.

How do bad knees affect backs?
When knees hurt people start to avoid doing things like bending, walking and going up and down stairs. Over time the supporting muscles around the joint and in the legs and buttocks get weaker. The weakness makes people even less likely to move. Knees also play a vital role in allowing your legs to protect your back when you bend, lift and twist. When you have knee pain and stiffnness instead of bending from the legs people compensate by using their backs. Gradually this leads to back strain and aching.

What can you do?
Lose weight Even losing a single kilogram of weight can make a difference Get moving there are lots of alternatives to get you moving if traditional exercise like walking is painful. An exercise bike or aquarobics are a great alternative. To promote awareness about this Arthritis NSW are staging Australia's Biggest Aerobics Class at the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre in Sydney at 8.30am this Sunday the 27th March. For more information visit

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See your physio they can give you more specific exercise to improve the strength of the muscles around the knee joint and some exercises to strengthen the hip and back and give you advise on ways you can modify your life to still allow you maximum mobility

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