Exercises To Help Relieve Knee Arthritis Pain
The most common cause of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis, which becomes more common with increasing age. Over time, the cartilage in your knee joint wears away causing pain and tenderness while using your knee.
“The stronger your leg muscles are, the more they can help cushion your knee joint during impact and during exercise,” explains Dr. Brooks.
But, you’ve likely already noticed that some common leg-strengthening workouts, such as running or jumping, actually worsen your knee pain.
“High-impact weight-bearing exercises aren’t recommended for people whose knee pain is due to arthritis,” says Dr. Brooks.
Instead, Dr. Brooks recommends improving your knee mobility by stretching regularly especially your quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles and increasing your knee stability by performing low-impact leg strengthening exercises, such as:
- Riding an exercise bike
- Using an elliptical
- Water-based workouts, such as walking, high-stepping, kickboarding or other exercises you can perform while holding on to the ledge of the pool
“Performing water-based exercise is a really good way for a person with arthritis in the knee to maintain his or her overall fitness,” explains Dr. Brooks. “The buoyancy effect of water can relieve the pressure on the joints, making conditioning and strengthening exercises much more comfortable.”
Tips For Knee Pain Relief
Self-management strategies such as exercise and dietary advice are important components of management for many patients with knee pain. Evidence shows that patient education about their condition is helpful for both those with traumatic and non-traumatic knee pain.
The following are some tips to help your knees feel their best and for knee pain relief:
Lower Your Stress Levels
Stress can worsen plenty of chronic conditions and knee osteoarthritis is no exception. The Arthritis Foundation says that stress can cause muscle tension, which then increases the perception of pain. And that, the organization notes, can trigger frustration and even depression.
To break the cycle, try to find a relaxation therapy that fits your lifestyle. Deep breathing , meditation, progressive relaxation, and yoga can all help ease your stress levels and make it easier for you to stay relaxed.
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Always Start With A Warmup
A good warmup prepares your body for exercise by increasing blood circulation throughout the body. This primes your muscles to be stretched and helps your joints feel less stiff. While everyone should make a warmup a part of their pre-workout routine, if you have knee condition this can be a critical element that can help minimize pain during your workout and prevent future injuries.
Here are a few things you can do to get your knees feeling as good as possible:
- Try a cycling warmup: If you have an exercise bike or plan on working out at the gym on the treadmill, spinning at an easy pace on the bike for your warmup is an excellent option. Cycling is low-impact and requires a greater range of motion for the knee. You should feel loose and ready to workout after 1015 minutes.
- Start slow: Walking at a moderate pace for the first 10 minutes of your workout allows you to gradually get into a groove and prepares your body for whats ahead. Once your knees are feeling good and your muscles are loose, you can increase the pace.
Warm Up Before Exercise
Exercising at a high intensity without adequately preparing your body for the work invites injury, especially to vulnerable joints like the knees. Spend five to 10 minutes warming your body up whether youre planning to walk a brisk mile, run a 5K, or lift some heavy weights.
A warm-up starts modestly. If you plan to power walk, for example, spend a few minutes strolling and then pick up your pace gradually over the course of five minutes to full speed.
A workout that involves weight training includes about five minutes of cardio, such as marching in place or riding a stationary bicycle, and a couple of minutes of body-weight dynamic movements, such as squats, high knee raises, and side lunges.
A warm-up increases circulation and range of motion, which prepares your joints for the rigors of your workout session.
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Tips For Arthritis In Knees
Arthritis, one of the most common human conditions affecting mobility, has many factors associated with it. Some of these are chronic such as past physical injury while others are acquired such as joint replacements, aging, and repetitive movement. These issues may also be influenced by nutrition. Most knee osteoarthritis patients have multiple comorbidities and end-stage renal disease .
Knee pain is a common problem, both in older and younger patients. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee pain and can occur as a result of injury, OA Osteoarthritis or joint instability. Currently, patients who suffer from knee pain may be offered surgery to improve the alignment of the knee joint. It is also commonly performed to prevent recurrence of symptoms following a total knee replacement.
The following are some tips for knee pain or Arthritis in the Knees:
Exercises To Reduce Knee Pain
Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions for which people seek medical treatment. It includes pain felt behind and around the knee cap, especially during activities like stair climbing, squatting, running, and walking while carrying a heavy load. Knee pain can prevent you from participating in your favorite activities and performing daily tasks. Without proper treatment, it can linger for years.
Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which include knee stiffness, incorrect positioning of the knee cap at rest or with movement, flat feet, improper exercise form, and weakness of the muscles that control the hip and knee.
A physical therapist can work with you to address your knee pain. After an evaluation, a physical therapist will design an individualized comprehensive treatment program to address the specific factors causing your knee pain. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation.
To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
These exercises are proven by research to reduce pain and improve your ability to participate in the activities you love.
Consult your health care provider before starting these exercises to determine if they are right for you. If you experience any symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness at any time, you should stop immediately. These exercises are provided for educational information only.
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Change The Way You Walk To Ease Knee Pain With Osteoarthritis
Overloaded or unevenly loaded knee joints can cause osteoarthritis , or cause your OA to get worse. Learning how to walk differently may be able to correct the loading problem and reduce your knee pain. This approach is being studied in people with medial, or inner, compartment OA which is 10 times more common than other forms of knee OA.
The medial knee compartment bears a much higher load than the lateral compartment, says Pete Shull, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. Thats just the way our bodies are structured. The inside knee compartment experiences loading thats two to three times higher than the outside.
Researchers are looking for ways to shift some of the medial compartments load to the lateral one. The lateral compartment almost always has healthy cartilage, says Shull. The compartments are like brake pads on a bike, unevenly worn. So by changing the way someone walks, we can get the cartilage in the compartments to wear more evenly.
Exercises To Relieve Anterior Knee Pain
Knee pain that occurs due to muscle weakness or tightness can be hard to pin down, but one thing is for sure: Anterior knee pain is common.
“When someone is experiencing anterior knee pain, he or she will often grab or point to the kneecap when describing where the pain is located,” says Dr. Brooks. “Generally speaking, it’s pain around or under the kneecap.”
According to Dr. Brooks, anterior knee pain is most commonly caused by arthritis under the kneecap or tightness or weakness in one or more of the following muscles:
- Core muscles as this places additional weight-bearing stress on the lower back and quadriceps muscles
- Gluteal/hip muscles as this causes the hips to turn inward, placing a sideways stress on the kneecap and quadriceps muscles and tendon
- Hamstring muscles as this causes an imbalance in the muscle forces across the knee, placing more stress on the quadriceps muscles for knee movement and stability
- Quadriceps muscles as weakness places more stress on the bone and joint itself to maintain stability tightness prevents full movement or excursion of the tendons, applying greater pressure to the kneecap
In addition, anterior knee pain can be caused by IT band tightness in runners, cyclists and hikers.
Closed-chain leg strengthening includes exercises where your foot remains in contact with the surface you’re exercising on, such as:
- A feeling of buckling or giving out
- Being stuck in one position and unable to release your knee from that position
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What Are The Symptoms Of Knee Arthritis
While knee pain can certainly affect patients without arthritis, there are some classic knee arthritis symptoms to keep an eye out for. These can include:
- Chronic or recurrent pain
- Stiffness, often upon waking or after sitting for a long period of time
- Limited mobility
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to be evaluated by a qualified provider to obtain a definitive diagnosis and find out what treatment options are available to help relieve your discomfort. During your initial consultation for knee arthritis in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Williams will thoroughly evaluate your joints and perform any necessary imaging studies to determine whether arthritis may be affecting you.
Protection Rest Ice Compression And Elevation
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation may help treat mild knee pain that results from a soft tissue injury, such as a sprain.
Protection refers to protecting the knee from further injury, for example, by taking a break from the activity that caused it.
Rest can reduce the risk of further injury and give tissues time to heal. However, stopping all movement is not advisable, as this can lead to stiffness and, in time, muscle weakness.
Ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation. It should be wrapped in a cloth and applied for 20 minutes several times on the first day of injury. Never put ice directly the skin, as this can lead to further damage.
Compression with a knee support, for example, can increase comfort levels. The support or bandage should be firm but not tight.
Elevation, or keeping the leg raised, will encourage circulation and reduce swelling. Ideally, the knee should be above the level of the heart.
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Which Is Better For Arthritis: Indoor Or Outdoor Walking
Outdoor walking engages more muscles, which increases blood flow to joints and other tissues, says Colleen Louw, PT, spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. It can also be more social than walking inside on a treadmill, adds Louw, who is also a co-founder of the International Spine and Pain Institute. Social interaction can have a positive impact on walking longer and decreasing pain, she says.
But outdoor walking can also require you to walk on uneven sidewalks or terrain that could increase your risk of slipping or falling, so make sure you pick a path that you know is safe for you.
If temperature changes or weather affect your arthritis, consider walking indoors at a local mall or indoor track and bring along a friend for company, suggests Louw.
Should You Walk When You Have Knee Pain
If you have mild to moderate pain in your knees due to osteoarthritis, walking and other exercise helps mobilize your joint fluid and lubricate the joints. You should walk and do other exercises that move your knee joints. You are likely to find that the stiffness, pain, and fatigue improve with exercise.
If you have moderate to severe pain in your knees before you start walking, take it easy. Do a shorter walk at an easy pace or try an activity that doesn’t place much stress on the joint, such as water exercises in a pool. If joint pain remains severe, stop immediately as it is a sign of inflammation or joint damage that needs treatment.
If you have joint pain occasionally the day after a walk or run, you should take a day off and do a shorter workout or one that doesn’t put stress on the joint. If you always have joint pain after exercise, you may have to switch to a form of exercise that doesn’t put stress on the knees, such as cycling or swimming.
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Simple Home Exercises And Stretches Can Help Ease Some Common Types Of Knee Pain
If youve got sore knees, exercise might seem like the hardest thing you can do but its also one of the best.
“Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for knee pain,” says Dr. Lauren Elson, an instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
The right combination of strengthening and stretching exercises can relieve pain by helping to improve the way the joint moves and functions.
“The knee is often an innocent bystander between the hip and the foot. Knee pain is often caused by problems occurring above or below,” says Dr. Elson.
For example, weak hip muscles may cause more strain on the knee, intensifying your pain. Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint can help relieve it, says Dr. Elson.
In addition, knee pain is sometimes caused or aggravated by tight muscles around the knee, a problem that is often successfully addressed by stretching. If the muscles arent flexible, the knee joint sometimes wont move properly, says Dr. Elson.
What The Studies Show
In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Biomechanics, Shull and his colleagues retrained nine healthy people without osteoarthritis to shift their gait.
They had the participants walk on a treadmill while wearing equipment that measured the forces on the knee and gave feedback on how they were walking. With the feedback, participants were able to learn how to shift weight to different parts of the knee. The pressure on the medial compartment was reduced by 20%. A knee brace can reduce pressure by 1015% and foot orthotics can reduce pressure by 510%.
Once Shull and his colleagues established that the technology could help healthy people learn new walking patterns, they decided to test it on people with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.
The 2013 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, looked at 10 people with medial compartment knee OA and self-reported pain. They participated in weekly gait retraining sessions for six weeks. Their scores for pain and function improved by 29% and 32%, respectively.
Researchers at University of British Columbia and University of Melbourne have also been studying how changes in gait may lessen knee burden. In a 2012 study published in Arthritis Care and Research, they taught 22 participants with knee OA to shift their trunks toward their damaged knee. Although the greater the lean, the less pressure on the inner joint, participants had a tough time learning the new walk and initially at least, found no pain reduction.
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Walking Tips That Can Ease Knee Pain
Walking plays a major role in knee pain where wrong considerations can make the pain worse.
The following are six walking tips that can help you ease your knee pain:
Switch From The Sidewalk To The Treadmill
Walking or jogging on a sidewalk made of concrete can be hard on the knees. A treadmill has a little more spring and decreases the overall compressive load on the knees. When walking on a treadmill, resist the urge to walk at an incline.
Walking on a groomed earthen trail will have a similar positive effect.
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Knee Pain Relief 6 Natural Treatments Including Exercises
Reviewed by Ron Torrance, DO, FAOASM
Next to back pain, knee pain is one of the most common complaints among both older adults and younger athletes. Knee injuries are one common cause of knee pain, but you dont have to fall, trip or get into some type of accident to hurt your knees.
What can cause knee pain without injury? Arthritis, overuse, osteoporosis, certain types of exercises like running, and repetitive movements are all potential causes of knee pain.
How do you relieve knee pain? Identifying the underlying cause of your pain is the first step. Treating health conditions that might contribute to inflammation , exercising appropriately, maintaining a healthy weight, stretching and doing certain knee exercises can all greatly help you find relief.
Ask About Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
This type of high-frequency electrical stimulation through the skin can help reduce knee osteoarthritis pain, Behrns says. It works by overriding the pain signals in your body with an electric current, according to the Arthritis Foundation. You can buy a TENS unit for your own use or go to a physiotherapist to have it administered in a healthcare facility. Keep in mind, as with all natural remedies for knee pain, not everyone will see improvements in their symptoms.
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Walking Is One Of The Best Forms Of Exercise You Can Do When You Have Arthritis
There are lots of reasons you should walk for exercise: Youll burn calories, improve your balance, and boost your heart health. Your bones will get stronger and so will your muscles. Some research suggests that a 15-minute stroll can even help curb a sweet tooth.
And if you have arthritis, here are even more benefits of walking to add to the list. Research shows aerobic exercise can help ease pain and stiffness from arthritis. Walking may also help reduce your risk of disability, according a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed four years of data from more than 1,500 older adults who had symptoms of osteoarthritis in their knee, hip, ankle, or foot. They found that just one hour a week of brisk walking or less than 10 minutes a day allowed older adults to maintain their ability to perform daily tasks like getting dressed or safely cross a street before a traffic light walk signal changed. Another study suggests that people with osteoarthritis knee pain benefit most when they walk 6,000 or more steps per day.
Another bonus for people with arthritis: Regular brisk walking can boost your mood and help you sleep better, both of which can be challenges when you live with chronic pain and fatigue from arthritis.