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What To Do For Knee Stiffness

What To Avoid With Knee Stiffness After Knee Replacement

7 Stiff Knee Stretches – Ask Doctor Jo

Approaches you should avoid when coping with knee stiffness after surgery:

  • Aggressively massaging or manipulating the joint
  • Bearing your full body weight on the joint before your surgeon says its OK
  • Forcing the knee to bend beyond a comfortable range-of-motion
  • Increasing your physical activity too quickly
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers unless advised to do so by your surgeon

Lastly, you may be able to avoid some postoperative knee stiffness by losing weight, if youre overweight. This also might extend the life of your new knee implant.

Treating A Joint Injury

These conditions are easy to treat. Youâll likely make a full recovery. The first thing to do is give that joint a rest and take an over-the-counter pain medication. Your doctor will probably give you a splint to wear and tell you to put ice on it. They might show you some exercises to do, too. If that doesnât help, they could inject a stronger drug straight into the bursa or tendon to manage pain and swelling.

How Does Osteoarthritis In The Knee Affect My Body

Knee pain is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis in the knee, making it painful for you to jog, run, climb stairs or kneel. It can also make your knees feel stiff or swollen. Over time, osteoarthritis of the knee can change the shape of your knee joint, making your joint feel unstable or wobbly.

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Why Your Knee Feels Tight When Bending

A common complaint about the knees is tightness and stiffness. Injury, mechanical difficulties, or physical pressures on your knees, such as extra weight, can all create tightness in your knee. In addition, a lack of strength or flexibility may be partly responsible when your knee feels tight when bending.

If youve had a knee injury or have a medical condition like gout, arthritis, or an infection, youre more prone to have knee tightness. Physical therapy is a crucial part of the recovery process for any musculoskeletal injury or discomfort. At SPORT Orthopedics + Rehabilitation, our physical therapists and determine the best course to treat knee stiffness, which may include surgery or therapeutic exercises. A qualified sports medicine doctor Dallas will ensure that you receive the treatment you need to get back in the game.

Dont Let Stiff Knee Pain Hold You Back

8 Exercises To Relieve Pain In Achy Knees

Having stiff knee pain can prevent you from regular movement. This can really alter your quality of life at times. Being able to get active and perform daily activities shouldnt be burdened by knee pain. Perform these exercises a few times a day to strengthen the key knee muscles.

If youre still experiencing knee pain, you may need to consult a doctor. Reach out to us to learn how our nonsurgical knee pain treatment can help you.

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Knee Pain And Problems

Knee pain is a common complaint among adults and most often associated with general wear and tear from daily activities like walking, bending, standing and lifting. Athletes who run or play sports that involve jumping or quick pivoting are also more likely to experience knee pain and problems. But whether an individuals knee pain is caused by aging or injury, it can be a nuisance and even debilitating in some circumstances.

Know When To See Your Doctor

While many conditions that cause knee pain can be helped by exercise, in some instances it may not be appropriate, says Dr. Lauren Elson, an instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. You should stop exercising and see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

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Managing Arthritis After Rehab

Patients who follow the rehab protocol correctly usually see improvements in the first month. Those with a long-term stiff knee may need about 2 months to feel better.

Shelbourne Knee Center discharges patients from the Knee Rehabilitation Program for OA after 24 months. But patients need to continue the daily exercises and strengthening at least 3 times a week.

Arthritis in the knee is like high blood pressure. If you stop taking your blood pressure medicine, your blood pressure will go up. If you stop doing your exercises, your arthritis pain and stiffness will come back, says Bray-Prescott.

Over time, patients may be able to do their exercises less often, however, they may need to go back to the full rehab protocol when theyre more active.

For more information about the Knee Rehabilitation Program for OA, call 888-FIX-KNEE.


  • Shelbourne DK. Nonoperative Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis, presentation at the Herodicus Society Meeting, June 2018.
  • Shelbourne DK. Thirty-five Years of ACL Reconstruction, presentation at Andrews University, February 2018.
  • What Causes A Stiff Knee After Surgery

    Exercises to QUICKLY relieve stiff knees | Osteoarthritis | Dr Alyssa Kuhn PT

    During the immediate postoperative period, swelling within the joint can cause your knee to feel very stiff. Your range of motion might be very limited in the first weeks because of this swelling.

    As time goes on, knee replacement stiffness may linger due to scar formation or adhesions . Scar formation helps heal the incision, but too much scar tissue can cause problems. Rarely, nerve damage during total knee replacement surgery can cause feelings of stiffness in the joint. If your joint stiffness lasts longer than three monthsor worsens with time instead of improving, be sure to notify your surgeon.

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    Articles On Knee Pain

    You can do many things to help knee pain, whether its due to a recent injury or arthritis youve had for years.

    Follow these 11 dos and donâts to help your knees feel their best.

    Donât rest too much. Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can worsen joint pain. Find an exercise program that is safe for your knees and stick with it. If youre not sure which motions are safe or how much you can do, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.

    Do exercise. Cardio exercises strengthen the muscles that support your knee and increase flexibility. Weight training and stretching do, too. For cardio, some good choices include walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling, and elliptical machines. Tai chi may also help ease stiffness and improve balance.

    Donât risk a fall. A painful or unstable knee can make a fall more likely, which can cause more knee damage. Curb your risk of falling by making sure your home is well lit, using handrails on staircases, and using a sturdy ladder or foot stool if you need to reach something from a high shelf.

    Do use RICE. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.

    Dont overlook your weight. If youre overweight, losing weight reduces the stress on your knee. You donât even need to get to your ideal weight. Smaller changes still make a difference.

    Common Causes Of Knee Stiffness And Pain

    There are many causes of stiff knees which can dramatically affect the kind of knee pain treatment your doctor recommends. Oftentimes, the more information you can share about the injury , the easier it is to isolate the cause of knee stiffness. In most cases, stiff knees are also accompanied by knee pain.

    Trauma to the Knee Joint A recent injury to the leg, such as a knee sprain, ACL tear, bone fracture, or meniscus tear, may be a factor in knee stiffness. Many knee injuries may swell up as damage to the area causes blood and other fluids fill the joint. This may cause a stiff knee and make the area difficult to bend or straighten. In the case of injury, it is common for both knee stiffness and knee pain to be present at the site of trauma.

    Arthritis One of the most common causes of knee stiffness is arthritis. There are many types of arthritis, but the ones most associated with stiff knees are knee osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis , and post-injury arthritis.

    Knee Bursitis Around our bones and tendons there are small, fluid-filled sacs known as bursae. These help with cushioning and supporting areas such as the knee joint. If a bursa sack becomes inflamed, it is known as bursitis. This inflammation around the knee may cause stiff knees and knee pain.

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    How To Relieve Knee Pain Through Stretches And Exercises You Can Do At Home

    Your knees are two of the largest, most heavily used joints in your body. It’s no wonder, then, that knee pain is both pretty common and pretty hard to ignore.

    “In many cases, knee pain can be treated at home via stretching and strengthening exercises,” says Dr. Kenneth Brooks, orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee surgery at Houston Methodist. “However, some types of knee pain can also be the result of a serious injury that requires evaluation and treatment by a specialist.”

    Whether your knee pain is due to aging, overuse, muscle tightness or muscle weakness, Dr. Brooks is here to help you understand how to alleviate your pain, as well as the signs indicating that it may be a sign of serious injury.

    Exercises And Stretches That May Help

    Knee Pain: 8 Exercises to Help Your Knees

    In some cases, people with a stiff knee should avoid exercising. Some knee injuries need time to heal and would benefit from rest instead of exercise.

    However, a stiff knee that occurs due to a form of arthritis may benefit from exercise. The Arthritis Foundation state that different exercises and stretches could help in different ways:

    • Strengthening exercises: Increasing muscle strength around the knee reduces the stress on the joint. Examples of these exercises include leg lifts and hamstring curls.
    • Range-of-motion exercises: Stretches and exercises that increase the knees range of motion keep the joint moving to reduce stiffness. Examples of these exercises include heel slides and stretching with a yoga strap.
    • Aerobic exercises: Cardio exercises can boost a persons energy levels and reduce any excess weight that may put extra pressure on the knee. Examples of these exercises include cycling and swimming.
    • Balance exercises: These exercises strengthen the muscles around the knee while also reducing the risk of falling, which could damage the joint further. Examples of these exercises include single leg standing and standing on a foam pad.

    A person with a form of arthritis may want to discuss any new exercise plans or programs with their doctor before starting.

    The following tips can also help prevent or alleviate knee stiffness and pain:

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    Tightness After Knee Surgery

    If you have recently had knee surgery, then some knee stiffness is to be expected. You will need to build your strength back slowly without rushing the healing process.

    Rehabilitation should focus on strength, stability, and flexibility. You can expect full recovery to take between 3 to 12 months depending on the severity and type of surgery.

    How to relieve knee stiffness after surgery:

    • Place an ice pack on your knee for 10-20 minutes every hour.
    • Keep your leg elevated for the first few days including while you sleep.
    • Make sure your knee brace fits correctly.
    • Use crutches until your doctor says its ok not to.
    • Follow all instructions that your doctor recommends.

    How To Avoid Stiffness In The Joints

    The best way to ease stiffness in the joints will depend upon the cause.

    If your stiffness bothers you for more than half an hour after you awaken, or if your symptoms are getting worse, then you need to seek medical attention.

    Either extreme of temperature can be helpful for muscle and joint pain relief.

    Apply a cold compress or bag of ice to the affected joint for 20 minutes many times throughout the day.

    This will help reduce the inflammation or swelling and restore your movement.

    It also will dull your pain receptors.

    Heat is also beneficial for muscle and joint pain relief.

    Try a heating pad or a hot water bottle to relax your muscles and increase your circulation.

    Steroids are another method for treating joint stiffness and pain.

    Corticosteroids can decrease inflammation.

    Steroids may not be useful for people with advanced arthritis.

    In certain cases, relief may only be temporary, and further injections might not be effective.

    Exercise and physical therapy can increase joint mobility and decrease stiffness.

    If you dont know how to begin an exercise regimen or are having movement problems, then you should discuss the matter with your doctor or a qualified physical therapist.

    Exercise can be very beneficial, but you might aggravate some conditions if you dont take the proper precautions.

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    Pain Swelling And Knee Stiffness

    First lets talk about pain: Its the bodys way of preventing you from making an injury worse. Since pain may limit movement, it can cause stiffness in the knees, as can any ongoing injury.

    Knees become swollen when excess fluid builds up inside the knee due to an injury, overuse, or medical condition. This can cause sensations of tightness as well as pain. Swelling may be subtle, so you may not always notice it unless its a severe injury. Since the swelling may not be visible, you may feel this as stiffness in the knee.

    Any type of swelling will cause limited movement since theres less space in the knee. Irritation, internal bleeding, and injuries in the knee can lead to fluid buildup. Arthritis, gout, and tumors or cysts are conditions that can also cause swelling.

    Pain and swelling are two mechanisms your body uses to protect itself. Together they can lead to stiffness in your knee. Next, lets look at possible causes.

    Exercises For Knee Stiffness

    10 Best Stiff Knee Pain Relief Stretches

    Physical therapy after knee replacement varies between patients and providers. To get ahead of knee stiffness and improve long-term range of motion, the knee exercises you do in the first few to several weeks are critical for healing. Keep in mind, these knee exercises are in addition to walking as prescribed by your physician. Youll walk with a walker or crutches at first.

    Early recovery

    Many knee replacement exercises focus on the thigh muscle , which is actually four large muscles. Contracting the quadriceps straightens your knee. It will be weak at first because your surgeon has to detach the quadriceps tendon from your knee and reattach it after placing the knee implant. You will likely perform some of these in the recovery room before you go home, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

    • Quad/thigh squeeze: Lie down with your unaffected knee bent. If desired, roll a towel and place it under the affected knee. Gently and slowly squeeze your thigh muscles, hold for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat about 10 times, which should take you about 2 minutes rest 1 minute, then repeat the set of 10. Stop when your muscle feels tired. Practice this exercise every 1 to 2 hours, or as prescribed.
    • Ankle pumps: While lying down, alternate flexing and extending your ankle, which requires contracting your calf and shin muscles. You can perform this exercise for up to 3 minutes, 2 to 3 times an hour.

    3 to 6 weeks

    6 weeks and later

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    How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Knee Diagnosed

    Your healthcare provider will do a physical examination and ask about your medical history. The physical examination might include checks to see:

    • If your knee joint area is red or sore.
    • If theres a sign you injured your knee.
    • How much you can move your knee. This is called your range of motion.
    • If your knee feels “loose,” which can mean your joint isnt stable.
    • The way you walk, in case you have gait problems that affect your knee. A gait problem is when you dont walk as you would normally.

    What You Need To Know

    • The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee.
    • Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.
    • Diagnosing a knee injury or problem includes a medical examination and usually the use of a diagnostic procedure such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan or arthroscopy.
    • Both non-operative and surgical treatment options are available to treat knee pain and problems depending on the type and severity of the condition.

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    How Can I Prevent Osteoarthritis Of The Knee

    While you cant always prevent osteoarthritis of the knee, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk youll develop it:

    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • If you jog or run, do so on grass or soft surfaces.
    • Vary your fitness routine with low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling.
    • Add light strength training to your fitness routine.

    Causes Of Knee Stiffness

    8 Exercises To Relieve Pain In Achy Knees

    Most people experience knee stiffness after sitting for a long period of time. Its usually the result of inflammation and fluid build-up in the knee joint, which causes swelling and decreases the ability to freely move the joint. A number of conditions can lead to inflammation, and subsequently, knee stiffness.

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    What Causes Osteoarthritis Of The Knee

    Osteoarthritis of the knee happens when your knee joint cartilage wears out or is damaged. Articular cartilage is tough, rubbery tissue on the ends of your bones that lets you bend and move. Meniscal cartilage absorbs shock from pressure on your knee.

    Your cartilage is like your cars shock absorber, protecting your car from bumps and jolts. Drive on lots of rough roads, your shocks wear out fast. Drive on easy streets, your shocks last longer. You can wear out or damage your knee joint cartilage if:

    • Youre overweight. If your body mass index is 30 or more, youre seven times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in your knee than someone with a lower BMI.
    • You injure your knee or have an old knee injury.
    • You frequently put stress on your knee at your job or playing sports.
    • You inherited a tendency to develop osteoarthritis of the knee.
    • You have crooked bones or joints, such as having knocked knees.


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