Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint condition worldwide affecting the integrity and function of cartilage tissue. The Knee is the joint that is most commonly affected by Osteoarthritis and may lead to pain and reduced function in daily activities like walking, standing and carrying the washing to the clothesline. This blog will discuss the causes and common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, as well as how to prevent it and utilise everyday and simple exercises to reduce pain and regain function.
Knee Osteoarthritis: How To Prevent And Reduce Pain and Dysfunction With Knee Osteoarthritis
What Causes Knee Osteoarthritis?
Knee Osteoarthritis can be caused by 2 mechanisms:
- Primary knee Osteoarthritis – This happens when the cartilage (smooth material allowing for joints to move) making up the knee joint degrades due to an unknown reason. Typically we refer to this as degeneration due to age or ‘wear and tear’.
- Secondary knee Osteoarthritis – This occurs when the knee joint cartilage degrades due to a known reason; examples of this could be joint instability, previous injury, family history, obesity and loss of mobility.
- Pain during movement
- Stiffness, especially in the early morning
- Reduced knee range of movement
- Pain after lying or sitting for long periods
- Pain when the knee joint line is palpated/pressed
- Joint enlargement
Can I Prevent My Knee Osteoarthritis From Getting Worse?
Yes, slowing the progression of knee Osteoarthritis is possible and will likely prevent further pain and dysfunction of your knee joints. This can be done by actively strengthening and conditioning the muscles around the joint to offload the pressure acting on the joint itself.
Knee Osteoarthritis Exercises:
1. Sitting To Standing / Squats
This is the simplest exercise that will build strength in your legs and lower back. Start sitting on a chair, position your feet at shoulder width apart, and behind your knees on the floor. Move your shoulders forward with your arms crossed against your chest and squeeze your bottom muscles to push your hips forward. Then slowly lower your bottom back onto the chair with your shoulders and upper body following suit afterwards. Complete this 10 times for 3 sets every day, with a short 1-minute rest in between each set.
To upgrade this exercise, you can remove the chair and complete a squat by starting in an upright position and bending down until your hips are parallel to the floor. You can also do this exercise 10 times for 3 sets daily.
2. Stair Stepping
This exercise will focus more on one side of your lower body and strengthens the glute muscles. Depending on your access to stairs or a few steps, you can do this exercise easily with even a stable stool or block. Step up with one leg taking time to load your weight onto it, and then lower yourself back with the other leg slowly. Repeat 15 times for the same leg, then repeat for the other leg.
3. Calf Raises
Stand facing a chair and raise your body towards the ceiling by pushing off with your calf muscles. Slowly lower your body back down to the floor. You can also do this on a step and combine it with exercise number 2, thereby increasing the stretch on your calves and loading more weight onto one leg. Complete this exercise 10 times for 3 sets daily, with a 1-minute break in between each set.
4. General aerobic excercise
Overall aerobic exercise is good for your heart health and can help in conditioning the muscles surrounding your knee joint. This can be done by cycling on a stationary or normal bike, going for a 30-minute walk around your neighbourhood, or using the treadmill at home.
If you are concerned about osteoarthritis in your knee/s and want to set up a holistic plan to alleviate the pain and increase function in your joints, feel free to Call or Book Online with one of our Bankstown Physiotherapists or Chiropractors today!