Clinical Commentary: Body awareness of the arthritic knee

Knee arthritis is a common condition we see in the clinic.  There are some simple knee tape jobs which help many of our patients, both in pain and feeling more stable if their joint feels like its going to give out.

This paper give some insight into why the stimulation of the skin can have such a big impact on the person’s function.  Weiler concluded that joint receptors in arthritic knees may have an adverse effect on the body’s awareness of the knee.  This could compromise our reaction time and stability, leading to giving out and pain.  While the paper suggests removing all receptors during replacement, our approach utilizing taping to increase information from the skin, muscle and fascia can increase the flood of sensation from those areas which are still functional and allow the nervous system to better control our knee motion, improving stability and decreasing pain.

There is a mechanical effect of tape on the knee, but the additional sensory input can help improve the quality of information being utilized by the body, giving us a great conservative management tool.  This might also explain why some patients find a simple knee sleeve more effecting than some advanced models, they need the tight hug of the neoprene more than the mechanical support of the hinges.  This can also explain knee pain improvement from arch stirrup or hip, just enough extra information to improve mechanics can bring joint load to a manageable level.
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