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Have You Ever Been Told You’re “Bone on Bone”?

Dr. Arnan Sisson / September 21, 2022

Have you ever been told you are “bone on bone”?

Told that you should stop walking, squatting or exercising because your knees have such bad arthritis in them?

Knee arthritis is one of the most common reasons that keeps people from staying active as they get older. Yes, sometimes you may need surgery for your knee, but there are a lot of things you can try before going that route.

Just because someone, even a well-meaning MD, tells you that you are “bone on bone,” doesn’t mean you should worry, or that anything is going to grind itself into dust. We see people all the time with torn cartilage and knee arthritis who are still squatting, exercising and working out. They are still walking and doing as much as they want. So, don’t let it get you discouraged.

A “bone on bone” diagnosis doesn’t mean what it sounds like and arthritis alone in isolation is not the cause of your pain. Pain is the signal your body gives you that something isn’t moving right and increases when the threat level increases. Usually, outside of a traumatic event, pain is signaling an upset muscle somewhere around the knee or the hips that is not moving like it should.

Just the idea of what “bone on bone” means and looks like increases pain, because it sounds threatening. It’s not really a problem. People lived years and well into their 80’s and 90’s without knee replacements in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, so can you.

Contrary to popular belief, the best thing to do when you have arthritis is to move and use the joint. What that does is trigger the fluid in your joint to be produced and allows you to move easier with less pain. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it isn’t going to harm you to move.

Bone remodels itself constantly; the inflammatory process that’s occurring with arthritis is just your body’s healing process. A knee replacement is not going to heal itself and will only wear down with time, typically needing to be replaced every 15-20 years.

A lot of times people will get steroid injections to help with the pain, but usually all this will do is mask the problem and make your tendons weaker. The big difference between a physical therapy diagnostic exam and getting an X-Ray or MRI is that we look at movement. We know how your body is supposed to move whereas an X-Ray or MRI only looks at you while you are laying completely still.

Whether you’re 16 or 85, you can do long walks with your spouse, you can do yoga, you can do that pickleball match, you can play golf all day long. Don’t get discouraged with an “arthritis” diagnosis.

We are here to help your whole body feel better. So, if you’ve been told you’re “bone on bone,” don’t worry. Click here or call us at (804) 493-3256 to chat on the phone with us so we can find out a little more about what is going on and help you continue to be active!