Osteoarthritis? Surgery is no longer the doctor’s first choice.


I recently had the incredible experience of watching an orthopaedic surgeon perform a total knee replacement on a patient who had osteoarthritis. I was amazed at the concentration and precision of his work, and would definitely have trust in putting my closest family members in his care. There is no doubt that performing surgery of any kind requires immense skill, concentration and the utmost patient-centred care, and I am so grateful to have been the presence of just that!

But, it is important to know that surgery isn’t the first treatment you need to turn to if you have osteoarthritis.

It has been commonplace for many years now that total joint replacements have been considered the best option for overcoming osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, but despite the amazing surgeons we have here in Australia, surgery is accompanied with many risks. Although surgery is an appropriate option for some, new evidence is emerging that something else is the same, if not more effective than surgery for hip and knee osteoarthritis – exercise!

The Guideline for the Management of Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis was released this year (2018) by the Royal Australia College of General Practitioners and it has strong recommendations for land-based exercise for both hip and knee osteoarthritis, as well as weight-management strategies.

Joint replacement surgery was only recommended for severe, end-stage osteoarthritis, when all conservative options have failed. It is also recommended that those who are planning on having joint replacement surgery engage in as much strengthening and physical activity as possible in the lead up to surgery and afterwards.


“So, what does this mean if I’m currently living with knee or hip osteoarthritis?”


Movement is the best thing for you, no matter how mild or severe your condition! It allows for the increase and maintenance of muscle strength and joint range of motion, has benefits for mental health, and can have additional improvements such as weight-loss, lowering blood pressure or reducing severity of diabetes.

Having an exercise program tailored to you is a must as everyone with osteoarthritis has different strengths, challenges and goals so we want to make sure we’re working on all of the right things for you so that you have the best possible outcomes.

As Physiotherapists we have extensive training in osteoarthritis treatment through exercise and other modalities, as well as being experienced in prehab and rehab for joint replacement surgery. We also provide you with information and teach you how to manage your condition so that you have an active role in your rehabilitation and treatment. This is all about you!

If you or someone you know has osteoarthritis of the hip, knee or anywhere else in the body, call us on 8555 4099 or click here to book an appointment online so that we can start you on your journey towards better function!

Written by Meg Doyle (Physiotherapist)