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Back on the field with knee orthoses
He thought he would have to hang up his tennis racket, but with the help of orthopaedic knee orthoses, he is now more active than he has been for many years.
osteoarthritis and the use of orthoses3

Former top player John Erik Rustad thought he would have to hang up his tennis racket, but with the help of orthopaedic knee orthoses, he is now more active than he has been for many years.

- "This has simply been fantastic for the quality of life," says the 59-year-old.

Text: Bjørnhild Fjeld - Photo: Tore Fjeld

At the age of 50, John Erik Rustad began to struggle with his night's sleep due to sore knees. It also hurt to walk up stairs, and he frantically searched for a seat on the commuter train to Oslo.

- It was a long period I could not train at all, and I was in a lot of pain, he says.

The 59-year-old from Holmestrand has lived a long life in top sports, and has, among other things, won 5 NM gold medals in the 1980s. He is currently an active tennis exerciser, in addition to being a tennis coach for children and adults.

The cause of the pain turned out to be osteoarthritis of the knees, popularly called osteoarthritis. Today, this is a common disease that affects more and more people - it is estimated that about 5 percent of the population at some point gets osteoarthritis in the knee.

Orthopedic aid was recommended

Rustad was recommended by his doctor to try orthopedic aids to get rid of the pain in his knees. The alternative was to operate on a knee prosthesis, but this is a complicated operation that is seen as a last resort for people with osteoarthritis of the knees.

- A knee orthosis works partly as a support for the knees, partly to correct misalignments, explains Torjus Tollnes Snare, who is an orthopedic engineer at OCH Orthopedics' department in Lysaker.

By relieving the osteoarthritis-affected part of the knee, the pain is also reduced, and everyday life becomes easier to master.

There can be various reasons why a person gets osteoarthritis in the knees. It is most common among people over the age of 60, and obesity is a risk factor. But there are also younger people who get problems with their knees, for example due to a congenital malposition.

Can give a better life

Fortunately, there are aids that in a relatively simple way can help the person with osteoarthritis to have a better life. Osteoarthritis of the knees can not be cured, but you can reduce the ailments with the help of measures that reduce the strain, such as orthoses and strength training.

- Currently, it is far more common to use orthoses to treat osteoarthritis of the knees in Sweden and Denmark than it is in Norway. This type of orthosis has been in use for about 10 years, but is still not well enough known among doctors and physiotherapists, says Markus Sundberg, marketing manager at OCH Orthopedics.

Sundberg believes that in many cases, orthoses can allow patients to postpone knee surgery for several years.

- An operation can work well or not so well. With an orthosis, you can practically find out within half an hour whether it has an effect. You don't need sick leave either," he points out.

Product development in orthoses is fast, and today you can get good knee orthoses that weigh 300-400 grams, with good comfort for the user. Modern orthoses can also be used all day, not just during activity.

On training and mountain hikes

John Erik Rustad has now used orthoses on his knees for almost four years. He now uses the orthoses every time he trains and when he is a tennis coach. He will also use the orthoses on future hikes in the mountains.

- My knees gradually got better after I started using the orthoses. Now I have no pain at night at all. I can also train as much as I want, he says.

Thanks to the fact that he uses the orthoses during training, he can strengthen his muscles so that his knees can also better withstand the abrupt movements made in tennis.

The alternative to using orthoses is for some to use painkillers to alleviate the pain.

- By using the orthoses I can stay in shape and it in itself has many positive effects. I also sleep well at night again, and have no problems walking up stairs anymore, says Rustad.

This is osteoarthritis

  • Osteoarthritis is the medical term for osteoarthritis of the joints. Osteoarthritis can affect all joints in the body, and most often occurs in the neck, back, hip joints and knees.
  • The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually come on gradually. It is particularly painful during movement and strain, but some people also experience night pain that affects their sleep at night.
  • The cause of osteoarthritis is strain on the joint over many years. With repeated strain, the cartilage in the joint can wear down and small calcifications form. What were once two oil-smooth joint surfaces that slid against each other can develop into two rough surfaces. This leads to friction and inflammation under load.
Sources: Norsk Helseinformatikk and Store medisinske leksikon