• Dr. Brian Abelson


Updated: Nov 2


Effective manual therapy techniques can significantly reduce pain and increase function in patients suffering from hip and knee osteoarthritis.

The goal of manual therapy is to increase joint motion that has been lost, reduce the stress on articular cartilage, and enhance joint kinematics (kinematics is the study of the relative motion between two consecutive segments of the human body).

Although more quality research (peer review) needs to be conducted, one study did show that manual therapy combined with exercise reduced the need for surgery by 75%. (21) Other studies have shown that treating hip or knee OA with manual therapy and exercise is far more effective than just exercises. (22)

An important point to note is that even though OA directly affects the joints, manual therapy must also be directed toward the surrounding soft-tissue structures. This is to address both joint stability and shock absorption capacity.



The following videos demonstrate common procedures that we use to address osteoarthritis for the hip and knees or our patients.

Mobilizing the Hip Joint - Motion Specific Release™ (MSR)

Hip mobility is a crucial aspect of your body’s kinetic chain. Since no joint operates in isolation, a lack of hip mobility will affect the function of your knees, ankles, low back, and even the structures of your upper extremity. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket synovial joint that is designed to allow for multiaxial motion while transferring load between the upper and lower extremities. The fibrocartilaginous rim of the acetabulum adds depth and stability to the acetabulofemoral joint.

4 Point Knee Joint Mobilization - MSR™

The objective of joint mobilization is to reverse adverse physiological changes by promoting movement between capsular fibers. Joint mobilization can gradually cause the rearrangement of collagen tissue to increase mobility. Improving joint mobility is critical to effectively address the body's entire kinetic chain needs. If we don't address restrictions in joint mobility, we significantly reduce the effectiveness of any myofascial treatment.



Effective therapy is not just about mobilizing the joint itself but also the surrounding soft-tissue structures. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the surrounding connective tissues are involved in stabilization, shock absorption, and critical control mechanisms. Without addressing these soft-tissue structures, the effectiveness of any therapy would be greatly diminished.

The Gluteus Maximus Release - Motion Specific Release™ (MSR)

In this video I demonstrate how to use Motion Specific Release (MSR) to release restrictions in the Gluteus Maximus muscle. Strong, flexible, engaged gluteal muscles are critical to optimum function of both the hips and knees.

The Quadriceps Release - Motion Specific Release™

The quadriceps are often tight, restricted, and overactive. This is because most people tend to over‐use their quadriceps and adductors to perform lower extremity motions, when they should actually be using their gluteals and hamstrings. This results in the development of muscle imbalances (strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings). When these two structures are out of balance, you set yourself up for knee injuries, hamstring strains, gait imbalances (directly related to hip function), along with a host of other lower extremity injuries.

The Hamstring Release - Motion Specific Release™ (MSR)

The hamstring muscles are primarily involved in hip extension and knee flexion, while the quadriceps muscles are primarily involved in hip flexion and knee extension. Your hamstrings function as shock absorbers, force generators and stabilizers. Hamstring injuries are a common problem that affects both the hips and knees.



Research has demonstrated that one of the first lines of treatment for OA should be exercise, as it can decrease pain and improve function in patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis. (3, 17, 20)

Besides focusing on mobility and strength, improving aerobic capacity is critical for addressing hip and knee osteoarthritis. (19) The following exercises demonstrate some possible exercises we could prescribe depending on the case.


8 Great Mobility Exercises for Hip Osteoarthritis

In this video, we go over some great mobility exercises for osteoarthritis of the hips. These mobility exercises should be performed at least once per day. For the best results, slowly work up to 3 to 4 times per day.

6 Great Mobility Exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis

n this video we go over some great mobility exercises for osteoarthritis of the knees. These mobility exercises should be performed at least once per day. For best results slowly work up to 3 to 4 times per day.



The Swiss Ball Squat

If you have trouble doing a standard body weight squat try the Swiss-Ball Version. These are great beginner exercises for strengthening your gluteals, abdominal, hamstring, quadriceps and calve muscles.


Swiss/Physio Balls at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gQmpRG

5 - Clam Exercises with a Theraband

These clam-shell exercises really target the gluteal muscles. They are great hip activation exercises for any one with a hip, knee, or lower extremity problem. Just be sure to start with the beginner exercises.


Loop Bands at Amazon https://amzn.to/3FBcg5t

4 Point Band Leg Strengthening Exercise

This TheraBand exercise strengthens your Adductors, Abductors, Flexors, and Extensors.


Theraband/Resistance bands at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3VWQheW

Peterson Step Up - Great Knee Stability Exercise

This exercise works your vastus medialis oblique muscles (in the quadriceps), an essential muscle that you need for knee stability. Knee stability commonly affects hips stability, and hip stability affects knee stability.


Weight Loss: Weight loss can have a huge effect on reducing the progression of OA. Combining dietary changes and exercise is much more effective than addressing just one aspect. (18)



Dealing with hip or knee osteoarthritis is pretty much inevitable for the majority of people; but surgery is NOT inevitable for resolving either condition. Neither is it necessary to suffer from the pain and dysfunction that often accompanies OA. Fortunately, a combination of manual therapy (such as MSR procedures) and exercise can make a significant difference on showing OA progression, reducing or eliminating pain, and improving overall function.

My advice is to address OA with manual therapy and exercise long before the need for surgery arises. One of the best ways to do this is with monthly maintenance appointments accompanied by a specific exercise program that is designed to meet your body’s specific needs.

In some cases, a hip or knee replacement may become your best option. From a personal prospective, I am no longer doing Ironman Triathlons, but I am hiking, sea kayaking, dancing and enjoying life. This would not have been possible without a full hip replacement in my case.

Bottom line, life is far too short to live a life of pain and dysfunction, so explore your options (you have many).



Dr. Abelson believes in running an Evidence Based Practice (EBP). EBP's strive to adhere to the best research evidence available, while combining their clinical expertise with the specific values of each patient.

Dr. Abelson is the developer of Motion Specific Release (MSR) Treatment Systems. His clinical practice is located in Calgary, Alberta (Kinetic Health). He has recently authored his 10th publication which will be available later this year.



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#osteoarthritis #OA #brianabelson #kinetichealth #Chiropractor #Calgary #MSR #motionspecificrelease #hip #pain #knee #royaloak

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