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How To Treat Arthritis In The Knee

Exercise And Physical Therapy

How to Get Rid of Arthritic Knee Pain in 30 SECONDS

Exercise is essential for reducing the risk of osteoarthritis and slowing its progress. Exercise not only helps you manage your weight, but it also improves strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Low-impact exercises are less likely to put strain on a damaged joint. Experts strongly recommend tai chi for people with hip osteoarthritis.

Other options include:

Regular stretching can help relieve stiff, achy, or painful joints. Here are some tips to help you stretch safely:

  • Start by asking a physical therapist for suggestions and guidance.
  • Do all stretches gently and build up flexibility slowly.
  • Stop if you feel pain.
  • Increase intensity slowly.

If you dont feel pain after the first few days of an activity, gradually spend more time on it. At first, you may find it hard to stretch very far, but your flexibility will increase over time, as you practice.

Here are a few possible stretches:

Forward fold

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart or sit in a chair. Slowly lean forward, keeping your upper body relaxed. You should feel the stretch in your hips and lower back.

Knee pull

Lie on your back. Pull your bent knee up toward your chest until you feel a stretch. If your body allows it, use your other leg to deepen the stretch.

Extended leg balance

This is the same exercise as the knee pull, but you start from a standing position. Place one hand along the wall for support.

Cobra

Here are some other stretches you can ask your healthcare provider about:

  • standing hip flexors

What Causes Arthritis Of The Knee

Experts have identified some genes that might cause arthritis, including arthritis of the knee. They predict that there are more genes not yet discovered. You could have a gene linked to arthritis without knowing it and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis of the knee.

Though the cause is unknown, some risk factors increase the possibility of arthritis of the knee. Risk factors of osteoarthritis, specifically, include:

  • Age. Osteoarthritis happens to older adults more often than younger adults and children.
  • Bone anomalies. Youre at a higher risk for osteoarthritis if your bones or joints are naturally crooked.
  • Gout. Gout, also a type of inflammatory arthritis, might lead to osteoarthritis.
  • Injuries. Knee injuries can cause arthritis of the knee.
  • Stress. A lot of stress on your knees from jogging, playing sports or working an active job can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Weight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees.

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee

It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:

  • Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
  • What type of arthritis do I have?
  • Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • What medications should I take?
  • Do I need physical therapy?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.

Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.

References

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Is Walking Good For Knee Arthritis

Although it may seem counterintuitive, walking can help decrease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. In addition, any form of exercise that helps you maintain a healthy weight can reduce the stress on your joints, and this may slow the progression of your arthritis. You should, however, consult a doctor to confirm that your knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis rather than by an injury for which resting would be appropriate. A physical therapist can help determine appropriate levels of exercise for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

Articles On Knee Osteoarthritis

188 best images about Arthritis, Knee Pain &  Sciatica on ...

While age is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knee, young people can get it, too. For some individuals, it may be hereditary. For others, osteoarthritis of the knee can result from injury or infection or even from being overweight. Here are answers to your questions about knee osteoarthritis, including how it’s treated and what you can do at home to ease the pain.

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How To Help Arthritis In Knees: The Basics

Your knees are the largest, strongest joint in the body. Knowing a bit about the anatomy can help to appreciate not only their strength but also their unique vulnerabilities.

Knee joints consist of three bones. The femur connects to the tibia and the patella . Cartilage wraps around the end of each bone to protect and smooth movement where the three bones meet.

Two wedges of cartilage called the meniscus act as shock absorbers as the femur presses down into the tibia. Synovial fluid lubricates all of the cartilage in the joint and helps with smooth movement.

In addition, stabilizing ligaments and tendons include:

  • Lateral and medial collateral ligaments: Stabilize side-to-side movement
  • Posterior and anterior cruciate ligament: Frames movement forward and backwards

Knees absorb the impact of your upper body coming down on the lower leg: every day, all day. This means that everything you dowalking, running, hiking up a mountain, or simply standing up from a seatrelies on healthy knees.

When our knees are not healthy, the resulting knee pain can make it challenging to go about our normal daily activities or even get to sleep at night.

Topical Nsaids And Capsaicin 1

Topical NSAIDs include patches, creams, gels, and ointments and work in the same way as orally taken NSAIDs, but are proposed to have a more favorable safety profile due to the low blood serum concentrations achieved with topical formulations. Topically applied medications reduce pain and inflammation by blocking the production of enzymes that produce inflammatory chemicals that ultimately result in pain and swelling. The pain-relieving property of capsaicin is found in many topical preparations and is known to relieve muscle, joint, and nerve pain. Capsaicin works by desensitizing nerves and blocking pain messages from being relayed to the brain. Topical treatments have been shown to be effective for knee arthritis pain as an adjunctive or alternative treatment therapy. While gastrointestinal side effects are less likely than they are with oral NSAIDs, local reactions such as itching, burning, and rashes are more frequent. Its important to work with your healthcare professional to ensure youre using the right solution, strength and application method of the topical treatment.

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Gradual Increase In Pain

Arthritis pain usually starts slowly, although it can appear suddenly in some cases.

At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after youve been inactive for a while. Your knees may hurt when you climb stairs, stand up from a sitting position, or kneel. It may hurt just to go for a walk.

You may also feel pain when youre simply sitting down. Knee pain that wakes you up from sleep can be a symptom of OA.

For people with RA, the symptoms often start in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The joint may be warm and red.

With OA, symptoms may progress rapidly or they may develop over several years, depending on the individual. They can worsen and then remain stable for a long time, and they can vary by days. Factors that may cause them to worsen include cold weather, stress, and excessive activity.

With RA, symptoms usually appear over several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a few days. A flare can happen when disease activity increases. Triggers vary, but they include changes in medication.

With OA, this can be:

  • hard swelling, due to the formation of bone spurs
  • soft swelling, as inflammation causes extra fluid to collect around the joint

Swelling may be more noticeable after a long period of inactivity, like when you first wake up in the morning.

This is because RA is a systemic disease, which means it affects the whole body. OA, meanwhile, only has a direct impact on the affected joint.

Risk Factors For Knee Arthritis

How to Treat Arthritis of the Knee With Stretching
  • Age. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative, wear and tear condition. The older you are, the more likely you are to have worn-down knee joint cartilage.
  • Heredity. Slight joint defects or double-jointedness and genetic defects may contribute to osteoarthritis in the knee.
  • Excess weight. Being overweight or obese puts additional stress on the knees over time.
  • Injury. Severe injury or repeated injury to the knee can lead to osteoarthritis years later.
  • Overuse. Jobs and sports that require physically repetitive motions that place stress on the knee can increase risk for developing osteoarthritis.
  • Gender. Postmenopausal women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men.
  • Autoimmune triggers. While the cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown, triggers of autoimmune diseases are still an area of active investigation.
  • Developmental abnormalities. Deformities such as knock knee and bowleg place higher than normal stress on certain parts of the knee joint and can wear away cartilage in those areas.
  • Other health conditions. People with diabetes, high cholesterol, hemochromatosis and vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have osteoarthritis.

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How Much Can I Walk With Knee Arthritis

Consistency and moderation are important when it comes to walking with arthritis in the knee. To begin with, patients are encouraged to do about 1015 minutes of light walking per day and eventually work their way up to 30 minutes per day. You can do one 30-minute walk or several shorter walks throughout the day. Follow these tips to ensure safety and comfort when walking with arthritis:

  • Warm up: Lightly stretching and warming up the muscles is always a good idea before exercising. This helps prevent injury and is particularly beneficial for patients whose knees are stiff due to arthritis.
  • Choose appropriate terrain: Make sure you choose an even walking surface, such as a track or mall, to avoid possible accidents or undue strain on the joints. While some doctors believe a very moderate incline is helpful for the knees, flat surfaces are just fine.
  • Dont overdo it: Begin by walking short intervals at a moderate, comfortable pace. In the coming weeks, your body and joints will likely feel better and stronger, allowing you to increase the distance of your walks.
  • Walk when your knees feel the best: While walking may help arthritis pain in the long term, it is important to try and walk when your joints are feeling their best. For example, if you wake up with stiff, painful knees, it may be best to wait until later in the day to begin your walk. Additionally, walking right after taking anti-inflammatory medications can help minimize any possible discomfort.

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Osteoarthritis Of The Knee

Osteoarthritis of the Knee is the most common form of arthritis in the knees. It has a progression from beginning to moderate to severe as shown in the above image. It is a wear and tear arthritis type that happens naturally when you age, but can happen prematurely if you perform repetitive type movements frequently and have too acidic a diet.

Arthritis in the knee from osteoarthritis can be healed in most cases by repairing your damaged cartilage, adding natural joint lubrication, reducing acids in your diet or adding more alkaline ones and strengthening the bones and joints that keep your knee joint in proper alignment. Using an arthritis knee brace can be helpful to take pressure off your damaged knee joint while you are repairing it with proper exercise, nutrition and supplementation.

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Are There Any Complications

How to Treat Knee Arthritis Without Surgery

Osteoarthritis can develop over just a year or two, but more often its a slow process over many years that only causes fairly small changes in just part of the knee.

But in some cases, the cartilage can become so thin that it no longer covers the ends of the bones. This causes them to rub against each other and eventually wear away.

The loss of cartilage, the wearing of the bones, and the bony spurs can change the shape of the joint. This forces the bones out of their normal positions, making your knee feel unstable and painful.

Some people with osteoarthritis find a lump appears at the back of their knee. This is called a Bakers cyst or popliteal cyst.

A Bakers cyst is fluid-filled swelling at the back of the knee that happens when part of the joint lining bulges through a small tear in the joint capsule. This can then cause joint fluid to be trapped in the bulge.

It can happen on its own, but is more likely in a knee thats already affected by arthritis. A Bakers cyst doesnt always cause pain, but sometimes they can burst so the fluid leaks down into your calf, causing sharp pain, swelling and redness in the calf.

Osteoarthritis in the knee might change the way you walk or carry your weight, and this could cause you to develop the condition in other joints, such as your hips.

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How Does Arthritis Affect The Knees

The knee is commonly affected by arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis . You may notice pain and stiffness in your knee, particularly when you first get out of bed in the morning, after sitting for a long period, climbing stairs, walking, kneeling or even when youre just sitting still. Your knee might look swollen, or feel like it might give way or buckle.

There are many things that can help you manage arthritis of the knee. The first steps are regular exercise, weight loss and using medicines wisely.

Add Cloves To Your Diet

Cloves contain an anti-inflammatory chemical called eugenol that interferes with a bodily process that triggers arthritis. In one animal study, eugenol prevented the release of COX-2, a protein that spurs inflammation . Cloves also contain antioxidants, which are important in slowing the cartilage and bone damage caused by arthritis. Aim for ½ to 1 teaspoon a day for joint pain relief.

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Why Does My Knee Hurt When I Walk

For countless men and women across the country, knee pain is a daily struggle. In fact, knee pain can be so severe that some patients are unable to continue working. There are several possible causes and risk factors for chronic knee pain, including:

  • Obesity
  • Overuse
  • Arthritis

Without a doubt, one of the most common causes of knee pain is arthritis. Patients suffering from arthritis in the knee may have either rheumatoid arthritis a condition developing in the joints lining or osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage. While RA may occur at any point in a persons life, osteoarthritis is much more common and affects the vast majority of patients suffering from knee arthritis.

How To Use Pain Medications Properly

How PRP Therapy Can Help Treat Knee Pain & Arthritis

There are two types of over-the-counter pain medications that can be used for osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever but not an anti-inflammatory. It may help with mild knee pain.

NSAIDs can be more effective because they both relieve pain and reduce inflammation. However, they come with potential side effects and risks. NSAIDs can irritate the lining of the stomach, which may lead to an ulcer or other stomach problems. They also can impair kidney function. Some NSAIDs can increase blood pressure. And theyve been linked to an increased risk for heart disease.

Because of the risks, Dr. Day cautions against using NSAIDs regularly over long periods of time. Instead, she uses NSAIDs for her patients in two ways. First, people who have a flare-up of pain can take them regularly for three to five days and then stop. Second, they can be used over the long term, but only occasionally, maybe a couple of times a week as needed.

If youre taking NSAIDs several times a day for long periods of time, Dr. Day advises reducing their use by maximizing the other treatment strategies. She also suggests trying a topical NSAID, such as diclofenac , which has fewer potential side effects.

Opioid pain relievers are discouraged for long-term treatment of chronic knee pain. The milder narcotic tramadol might be appropriate for occasional use in some people, says Dr. Day.

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How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Knee Diagnosed

The diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis will begin with a physical exam by your doctor. Your doctor will also take your medical history and note any symptoms. Make sure to note what makes the pain worse or better to help your doctor determine if osteoarthritis, or something else, may be causing your pain. Also find out if anyone else in your family has arthritis. Your doctor may order additional testing, including:

  • X-rays, which can show bone and cartilage damage as well as the presence of bone spurs
  • magnetic resonance imaging scans

MRI scans may be ordered when X-rays do not give a clear reason for joint pain or when the X-rays suggest that other types of joint tissue could be damaged. Doctors may use blood tests to rule out other conditions that could be causing the pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, a different type of arthritis caused by a disorder in the immune system.

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