Exercise Can Strengthen and Heal Knees with Osteoarthritis

The term “Arthritis” originated from the Greek word called “Arthron,” meaning joint. While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, one of the most common type is Osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, Osteoarthritis (OA) affects nearly 27 million Americans, which is a staggering number of people who suffer from this disease. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can have a major impact on the knees, causing chronic discomfort for those who suffer from constant stiffness or pain.

Typically referred to as “wear and tear” on the joints, one of the primary causes of OA knee pain is the result of the eventual wearing down of cartilage that protects the joints. This leads to bone rubbing against bone, which can eventually cause constant knee pain if preventative measures such as physical therapy are not taken. Exercise can prevent this wearing of cartilage.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The importance of understanding the symptoms of OS is the first step towards initiating an action-plan against this debilitating condition. The Mayo Clinic addresses some key symptoms associated with OA:

  • Pain – Your joint may hurt during or after movement.

  • Tenderness – Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.

  • Stiffness – Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

  • Loss of Flexibility – You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.

  • Grating sensation – You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.

  • Bone spurs – These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.

Osteoarthritis Risk Factors

Clearly, the range of discomfort that occurs in the knee joint should signal that seeing a doctor for an examination is the best course of action. If diagnosed with OA, your doctor will most likely share critical risk factors that may place you in one or more categories. The risk factors for OA may include the following:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • A previous significant injury to the joint

  • Increasing age

  • Repetitive movements associated with an occupation

Ignoring OA can result in complications, some of which the online site, Right Diagnosis, identifies as depression, anxiety, limits on daily activities, and job limitations. Receiving approved physical therapy from a healthcare provider is one way to treat the discomfort that OA causes. Another option, however, is to start your own exercise program that targets strengthening the muscles around the knee joint and improving range of motion.

Stand Up to Knee Osteoarthritis

The Arthritis Foundation provides excellent exercises for strengthening muscles around the knee, which includes the following:

  • Range of motion or flexibility exercises

  • Aerobic/endurance exercise

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Walking

  • Aquatic (water) exercises

Working with your healthcare provider and getting approval from a doctor to start an exercise program to manage osteoarthritis in the knee, can represent a significant improvement in your overall quality of life. It’s a matter of taking that first step, establishing some consistency in your exercise routines, and ultimately experiencing the benefits of improving the health of your knees.

Read these myths about pain to clear up what’s fact.

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