Knee osteoarthritis, has been estimated to affect over 12.5% of the UK population. (This blog focusses on osteoarthritis and not the much less common condition of rheumatoid arthritis which is a separate condition )
Osteoarthritis of the knee is generally viewed as a degenerative disease of the bony surfaces of the knee and the articulated cartilage and the OA related pain is a direct result of this destructive process.
NHS Physiotherapy typically conservatively treats knee osteoarthritis with a very direct approach of strengthening exercises targeting the leg muscles which if they have a benefit is usually small and short lived.
Knee Osteoarthritis and Alexander Technique trial:
Reductions in co-contraction following neuromuscular re-education in people with knee osteoarthritis . 2016
Preece, Jones , Brown, Cacciatore, Jones
In 2016, a total of 21 people aged 40-70 with osteoarthritis confirmed by X-ray were recruited for the trial. Each person had 20 individual Alexander Technique sessions lasting 40 mins over a 12 week period.
- At the end of the trial, there was an average 56% reduction in pain score which was maintained 15 months later.
- Of the 15 participants who were taking painkillers at the start of the trial, by the end of the trial, 10 had reduced or stopped taking the medication and 5 had maintained the same level
- 15 participants also reported other areas of musculoskeletal pain prior to the start of the trial . At the end of the trial, 11 reported improvements in the specified pain areas as a result of the process.
Unlike physiotherapy, the Alexander Technique takes an indirect approach, treating the condition within a whole person approach. Balance and coordination tend to improve and as a result the compression forces on the knee are lessened.
This was only a small trial but there was a significant reduction in knee pain and stiffness and improvement in knee function which was maintained at 15 months.