by Dr. Michael Baranov, PT, August 31, 2015
Osteoarthritis specialists in Fresh Meadows, like our clinical specialists at MBF Rehab, understand different types of arthritis that affects the knees and how to ease it.
Did you know about 10 million Americans suffer with it because our knees experience quite a bit of stress as we go through life. Knees “cushion our movements and help support our weight.”
HOW KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS DEVELOPS–
Osteoarthritis occurs when the top layer of cushiony cartilage at the ends of the knee bones “wears away.” Then, these bones rub against each other, causing “pain, stiffness and swelling.” Cartilage is invaluable–it helps “bones glide over each other,” and acts as a “shock absorber.”
Although doctors don’t fully understand what causes knee osteoarthritis, some conditions that contribute to it are: aging (specifically, over age 45), participating in sports like “running, tennis and soccer” which “put extra strain on the knees,” job positions that demand a lot of “lifting, squatting or kneeling,” being overweight and/or female, and genetics–osteoarthritis runs in families.
EXERCISE IS THE KEY BUT, IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS JUMPING ON A TREADMILL
As Linda Arslanian, DPT, MS, director of rehabilitation services at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston says, “Of course, it’s not as simple as hopping on the treadmill or hitting the weight room. A healthy 30-year-old might be able to exercise however he pleases, but people with knee and hip osteoarthritis have limitations. Which exercises can you do to make the most of your mobility without increasing pain or risking injury?
That’s the trick,” says Arslanian. “Some exercises actually can make knee and hip arthritis worse. Those are the ones that create a huge amount of impact loading on the joints — the ones we call ‘high impact’ activities,” she says.
Exercises to Avoid With OA of the Knee or Hip:
– Running and jogging
– Jumping rope
– High-impact aerobics
Any activity where, at any time, you have both feet off the ground at once, however briefly
Fortunately, that leaves a lot of activities that are OK for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis and that can help keep you mobile. There are three key areas you need to focus on: weight-bearing cardiovascular activity, to keep your bones strong and your heart healthy; muscle strengthening activity, to relieve strain on the joints; and flexibility and range of motion, to help prevent falls and keep your joints mobile.
THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Although it seems counterintuitive that increased movement relieves knee pain, osteoarthritis specialists in Fresh Meadows know that the right exercises offer these benefits:
- strengthen muscles around the knee-joint,
- increase knee mobility and function,
- maintain a healthy weight, and/or aid in weight loss,
- lower the amount of medication you need for knee pain/inflammation.
TYPES OF EXERCISES FOR KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS AFTER YOU WORK WITH US
- Range of motion stretches to increase/maintain flexibility–Build up to 15 continuous minutes daily, as directed by your physical therapy specialist.
- Exercises to “build and strengthen muscles”–especially in your legs, which support you as you bend, climb stair, and lift (Use your own body weight as resistance).
- Water aerobics, especially, develop strength and flexibility without wear and tear on joints.
TIPS FOR MAKING EXERCISE MORE PRODUCTIVE
- Proceed slowly “at your own pace.”
- Exercise consistently and daily, or “stiffness may set in.” (Do fifteen minutes of stretching, at least.)
- Expect “some soreness” in your first few days of exercising. But if intense pain persists, stop working out and call your doctor.
To see one of our osteoarthritis specialists in Fresh Meadows, who well understand knee-joint pain and stiffness, as well as the best physical therapy treatments and exercises, please contact us.