Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting over thirty-two million adults across the United States. OA is characterized by the breaking down of the cartilage that can be found in the joints, primarily seen in the hands, hips, and knees. This breakdown of cartilage can cause significant pain, increasing stiffness, and intense swelling at the joint site, as this breakdown begins to alter and damage the underlying bone. As we take a look at osteoarthritis, specifically in the knee, studies have shown that the training and strengthening of the muscles in the lower limbs can be beneficial in combating the symptoms of this painful disease. While all of the muscles of the lower limbs influence OA, the knee joint muscles and their strength also play an essential role. In my research, I have found that the surrounding muscles of the knee and lower limbs are able to be reinforced through exercise, and this can aid in the pain that OA can cause. The quadriceps, specifically, can be a significant contributor to the knee pain of OA.

The muscles involved in the knee joint consist of the hamstring and quadriceps muscles. The hamstring muscle group includes the biceps, femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. You can locate this group of muscles at the back of the thigh and as they connect to the bottom of the pelvis and the top of the shinbone. The quadriceps, on the other hand, are made up of four smaller muscles that are responsible for the stabilization and extension of the knee; on the anterior aspect of the thigh is the rectus femorus, and on the lateral part of the thigh, you will find the vastus lateralis, on the medial aspect of the thigh you can locate the vastus medialis. Lastly, between the vastis lateralis and vastus medialis and down to the rectus femoris, you will find the vastus intermedius. Two additional muscles that contribute to the knee would be the gastronemius muscle, part of the calf muscle group, and the popliteus muscle, located at the back of the knee. 

According to my research, there is still no known cure for osteoporosis, but the symptoms of this condition can usually be helped through a combination of different styles of therapy. A few examples would include; medications, weight loss, and an increase in physical activity. In the research articles I read, muscle weakness was pointed out as being one of the risk factors for the development of OA. The primary method of treatment suggested in the articles I have reviewed is the improvement of muscle strength through exercise. The onset and development of OA have a negative effect on the surrounding muscles of the joint, so counteracting this onset can be one of the best things you can do for your joints. This counteraction can help you maintain more of your mobility and assist in your overall joint functioning, allowing you to continue participating in the activities of daily life that you enjoy, all while alleviating the pain of joint swelling, stiffness, and pain.


Bennell, K. L., Hunt, M. A., Wrigley, T. V., Lim, B.-W., & Hinman, R. S. (2008, August). Role of Muscle in the Genesis and Management of Knee Osteoarthritis. ScienceDirect. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rdc.2008.05.005

Bennell, K. L., Wrigley, T. V., Hunt, M. A., Lim, B.-W., & Hinman, R. S. (n.d.). Update on the Role of Muscle in the Genesis and Management of Knee Osteoarthritis. ScienceDirect. https://doi-org.uaf.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.rdc.2012.11.003

CDC. (2020, July). Osteoarthritis (OA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm

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  1. Heidi completed her STEAM project on osteoarthritis in the knee joint. We first learn that Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage within the joints. Osteoarthritis primarily affects the hands, hips, and knees and can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling at the joint sites. We also learn that strength training and exercise are a good preventative to ensure healthy joints and if diagnosed with OA strength training is a good way to reduce symptoms. As Heidi’s focus of osteoarthritis is on the knee, we then learn about what makes up the knee and the muscles we use to move the knee. The hamstring, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, and the popliteus are all muscles involved in extending the knee as well as stabilizing the knee. Finally, we learn that there is not currently a known cure for osteoporosis. Although there is not a cure there are different ways to combat osteoporosis if you were diagnosed like physical therapy, medications, weight loss, and increasing your physical activity. It is stated that through her research she has found that one of the risk factors of osteoarthritis is muscle weakness and that the primary method of treatment would be to complete exercises focusing on increasing that muscle strength. Because osteoarthritis negatively impacts the knee joints and their surrounding muscles it is important to ensure strength training is a part of your exercise routine. By doing this you will increase overall strength and increase mobility of your joints and joint functions. In Heidi’s artistic representation we see a health knee joint versus one affected by osteoarthritis.

    Chelsea Pearce

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