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What Can You Do For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee

A Day In The Life Of Your Knee

How to manage knee osteoarthritis through exercise

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Most people never think about their knee until they experience some discomfort, such as pain, or are part of an injury that calls for surgery. However, according to an orthopedic knee surgeon, understanding the daily life of your knee can help protect it from harm.

If you suffer from knee pain or conditions like gout and osteoarthritis, your orthopedic surgeon has probably suggested a few tips to manage the issue. Nonetheless, you dont have to suffer a derailing condition to start caring for your knee.

Factors That Can Worsen Knee Osteoarthritis

When you live with osteoarthritis the most common type of arthritis knee pain and stiffness can seem difficult to avoid. Your knees and other joints may feel swollen, especially after being active, and the symptoms can worsen over time. More than just wear and tear on your joints, osteoarthritis is a joint disease.

Some of the factors that can worsen knee osteoarthritis pain wont come as a surprise. For example, if youve had a long career working at a job that requires you to stand for extended periods of time, bend a lot, or lift heavy objects, this can impact your cartilage, or the connective tissue in the joints between bones. When cartilage wears away, this causes swelling, pain, and trouble moving the knee joint. Athletes who sustained injuries, even long ago, can also be at risk for faster cartilage breakdown and osteoarthritis.

As osteoarthritis progresses, the knee and other bones may break down and develop what are called spurs, which are growths around the bones edges. Little pieces of bone or cartilage can also break off and float around in the knee joint, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In the later stage of osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the knee bones wears away completely, causing bone to rub against bone, which can lead to even more pain as well as joint damage.

Is your lifestyle contributing to your osteoarthritis pain? Find out if these habits may be harming your knee joints.

Proper Oseteoarthritis Treatment Includes Exercise

There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, but there is a lot you can do to slow its progression, reduce pain, and maintain or improve function. Losing weight can be particularly helpful if you’re overweight or obese. You can often relieve pain with over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , including ibuprofen and aspirin. The use of canes, splints, or braces may be necessary to protect a joint from further injury.

But if there’s one osteoarthritis treatment an individual with osteoarthritis should do every day, it’s exercise. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and improves flexibility and balance. It not only helps ease pain and stiffness but also improves overall health. It’s also good for your mood and for staving off other conditions prevalent in older age.

Exercise as an integral part of prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis, especially in people ages 65 and over. After reviewing the evidence, the group also concluded that moderate-intensity exercise does not as some have feared increase the risk for osteoarthritis.

Research suggests that older women may be able to prevent osteoarthritis pain by getting as little as one to two hours of moderately intense physical activity each week. Lack of exercise may contribute directly to osteoarthritis, especially by causing the atrophy of supportive and shock-absorbing muscles, such as those surrounding the knee.

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Deformities Of The Knee

The appearance of the knee can change during a flare and as damage progresses.

In RA, swelling and redness are common during a flare. In the long term, persistent inflammation can result in permanent damage to the cartilage and the tendons. This can affect the shape and appearance of the knee.

With OA, the muscles around the knee can weaken, resulting in a sunken appearance. The knees can start to point toward each other or bend outward.

Knee deformities range from barely noticeable to severe and debilitating.

Treatment will depend on the type of arthritis a person has.

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When Should I See My Doctor

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Check with your doctor or health professional if you feel pain in your joints or experience other symptoms of osteoarthritis. If you have any concerns about osteoarthritis, or other health issues, they can suggest ways to manage your arthritis and refer you to a specialist if needed.

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What Are The Treatments For Arthritic Knee Pain

After determining that your knee pain is, in fact, caused by arthritis, Dr. Williams and the caring staff at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to help you as quickly and reliably as possible. Some of the most widely known and used treatments for arthritis and arthritic knee pain include:

  • NSAIDs
  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy

In addition to these methods, Dr. Williams is proud to offer the breakthrough Regenexx family of nonsurgical treatments, which are designed to use a patients own stem cells to treat common and degenerative conditions without the need for going under the knife. While there are certainly some cases in which surgery may be unavoidable, Regenexx treatment has proven to be highly beneficial for chronic pain relief caused by a large number of conditions.

Dont: Ignore New Or Worsening Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Knee osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, which means that pain is always possible, Pisetsky says. However, if pain grows more severe and occurs at rest instead of after periods of activity, or if it awakens you from sleep, it could mean that your knee osteoarthritis is progressing, he says. Other symptoms such as swelling, a locked knee, or one that just gives way are concerning, too. Let your doctor know about new or worsening symptoms, as an adjustment to your treatment plan may be necessary.

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What To Think About

Before you take medicine

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Medicine doesn’t cure arthritis or slow the time it takes for to break down. But it can help reduce pain and stiffness, which can make it easier for you to move.
  • Medicine should be used along with other treatments, such as exercise and physical therapy, to help keep your joints working and moving well.
  • If you have certain health problems, you may not be able to take some kinds of pain medicine. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a history of bleeding in your stomach or another part of your digestive tract. And tell your doctor if you have a stomach ulcer, kidney problems, or heart failure, or if you take a blood-thinner medicine.

Effects of medicines

Medicines that work for some people don’t work for others. Be sure to let your doctor know if the medicine you’re taking doesn’t help. You may need to try several kinds of medicines to find one that works for you.

Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

Here are a few things to think about:

Grate The Herb To Use In Cooking

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To prepare ginger, scrape off the skin using the top of a teaspoon, or use a small, sharp knife to remove any pieces of skin that will not go away, Montoya says. Slice the ginger finely or grate the peeled ginger to get a flavorsome paste without the fibrous pieces. The peeled ginger can also be stored in the fridge for a week, she says.

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How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed

There is no specific test for osteoarthritis. Your doctor will confirm or rule out osteoarthritis based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Some signs they may look for are:

  • swelling around the joints in your body
  • damage to joint cartilage cartilage is the smooth, cushion-like surface that covers the ends of your bones to allow them to move smoothly
  • spurs extra bone growing around the edge of a joint
  • weakness in the ligaments and tendons the connective tissue that holds your joints together or attaches muscles to bones

Your doctor may refer you for an x-ray to look for narrowing and changes in the shape of your joints. A blood test may help to rule out other types of arthritis .

Do: Maintain A Healthy Weight Which Eases Stress On Your Knee Joints

Excess weight puts greater pressure or stress on your already damaged knees, Pisetsky explains. If you’re overweight, losing weight can relieve knee pain and even slow down the rate of cartilage degeneration, according to a study in the August 2017 issue of Radiology. The research showed that the more weight participants lost, the greater their improvements were. If youre overweight, weight loss can help with knee pain, Pisetsky emphasizes.

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Supplements For Those With Mild Pain

For people with milder pain, Dr. Day suggests trying supplements, such as the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin or the spice turmeric.

The evidence for glucosamine and chondroitin is mixed, but they are safe. So it might be worth trying. However, people with a shellfish allergy may not be able to tolerate them. Any effect wont kick in right away. Dr. Day recommends trying it for six to eight weeks. If you notice improvement, great if not, then stop it, she says.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and there is some evidence for its usefulness for painful knee arthritis. You can add turmeric to your food or take it as a supplement. It can thin blood, so people who take a blood thinning medication should not use turmeric.

How Does The Condition Change Over Time

Knee Osteoarthritis? Exercise for the Win!

The Kellgren-Lawrence Classification of Osteoarthritis is a common system for describing the stages of knee osteoarthritis. Kellgren-Lawrence classification measures the progression of knee osteoarthritis in terms of joint space narrowing . The stages range from 0 to stage 4 . When discussing late stage or advanced knee osteoarthritis, it is usually in reference to those at stage 3 or 4 of the Kellgren-Lawrence classification system.In late stage knee osteoarthritis, there is little to no separation between the bones remaining. This can lead to very different symptoms from those experienced by people at earlier stages of the condition. When these bones freely grate together they often cause more severe pain and stiffness. This also leads to reduced mobility in many cases.

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How Can I Manage Oa And Improve My Quality Of Life

CDCs Arthritis Program recommends five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms.

  • Learn self-management skills. Join a self-management education class, which helps people with arthritis and other chronic conditionsincluding OAunderstand how arthritis affects their lives and increase their confidence in controlling their symptoms and living well. Learn more about the CDC-recommended self-management education programs.
  • Get physically active. Experts recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes per week of at least moderate physical activity. Every minute of activity counts, and any activity is better than none. Moderate, low impact activities recommended include walking, swimming, or biking. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Learn more about physical activity for arthritis.
  • Go to effective physical activity programs. For people who worry that physical activity may make OA worse or are unsure how to exercise safely, participation in physical activity programs can help reduce pain and disability related to arthritis and improve mood and the ability to move. Classes take place at local Ys, parks, and community centers. These classes can help people with OA feel better. Learn more about CDC-recommended physical activity programs.

What Does This Mean For My Lifestyle And Quality Of Life

The impact of severe arthritis on quality of life is different for all people and there are many factors that help determine this. The severity of symptoms is one of the main factors in the impact of arthritis on your quality of life. If someone experiences less impacted mobility and less pain in general, their lifestyle would typically be affected to a lesser extent. Staying proactive when possible in trying to reduce the impact of various everyday activities can go a long way in maintaining your lifestyle. Working with a medical professional to find a suitable management plan for you, as well as being careful to follow that plan can also help to maintain quality of life. In this section, we will discuss some of the common challenges in the day-to-day life of someone impacted by late-stage knee arthritis.

Difficulty Squatting

As mentioned earlier squatting places forces on the knee that are many times greater than a persons body weight. In advanced arthritis, this makes it much more difficult to squat due to the pain and stiffness in the affected joints. This can make performing household tasks, exercises or working more difficult.

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The Role Physical Therapy Plays In The Process

Physical therapy is definitely beneficial. Improving range of motion and strength in the knee are helpful, but physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis has a large focus on strengthening the hips, explains Dr. Day.

Weak hips put more pressure on the knees. If your hips are strong, when you get up from a chair or go up and down stairs your knees have less work to do.

Everyone with knee osteoarthritis should consult a physical therapist, according to Dr. Day. Not only will you be taught the right kinds of exercises, a physical therapist also provides valuable instruction about using assistive devices and modifying activities to reduce pain.

Whats The Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Arthritis is a general term for conditions that affect the joints and the tissues that surround them. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types.

Osteoarthritis refers to damage that is caused by overuse of joints, an injury, or excessive body weight. Your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as you age. This is not the case for rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, in which the body attacks its own healthy tissue. In addition to joint symptoms, people with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience systemic symptoms.

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Dont: Be Afraid To Use Assistive Devices If You Have Knee Osteoarthritis

Canes and knee braces can play a role in decreasing knee osteoarthritis pain and improving function, Pisetsky says. There can be a period of time when knee pain is disabling but its not the right time for surgery, so thats when assistive devices can make a difference, he explains. An occupational therapist can work with you to choose appropriate assistive devices.

Radiographic Findings Of Oa

  • Joint space narrowing
  • Advice on weight loss
  • Knee bracing
  • The first-line treatment for all patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis includes patient education and physiotherapy. A combination of supervised exercises and a home exercise program have been shown to have the best results. These benefits are lost after 6 months if the exercises are stopped.
  • Weight loss is valuable in all stages of knee OA. It is indicated in patients with symptomatic OA with a body mass index greater than 25. The best recommendation to achieve weight loss is with diet control and low-impact aerobic exercise.
  • Knee bracing in OA can be used. Offloading-type braces which shift the load away from the involved knee compartment. This can be effective when there is a valgus or varus deformity.

Other non-physiotherapy based interventions include pharmacological management:

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Or Sleep With Ice Packs

Everyone says heat for arthritis but for me ice is the best, especially if I cant sleep, says Jennifer D., 28, of Washington, D.C. Heat makes the rashes from my psoriatic arthritis feel worse so I have ice packs I keep in the freezer and put them down my pajamas at bedtime. It takes some getting used to but its worth it for me to sleep better. Her trick is to buy ice packs that dont leak or sweat so she doesnt wake up in a wet bed.

Injections Are Another Low

Treatment For Osteoarthritis (OA)

If other strategies dont provide enough relief, injection therapy is an option with low risk.

A corticosteroid injection involves delivering this anti-inflammatory drug directly to the knee. The benefits are typically short lived. But it varies from person to person. I tell my patients the pain relief can last anywhere from a week to a year, says Dr. Day. One cautionary note with corticosteroids is the potential to increase blood sugar, which is a concern for people with uncontrolled diabetes.

For a possibly longer lasting effect, an injection of hyaluronic acid can be tried. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that healthy joints have a lot of and arthritic knees dont, says Dr. Day. It takes longer to start working than a corticosteroid injection, but the effect often lasts six months to a year.

Two other injection therapies are platelet-rich plasma and stem cells, neither of which is covered by insurance. PRP involves drawing some blood, spinning it in a centrifuge, and injecting part of it into the knee. Theres currently more science backing up the effect of PRP than stem cells, says Dr. Day.

If youre not able to get your symptoms under control with a combination of these measures, she says, it could be time to talk to your doctor about surgery.

This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.

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