Living with Knee Arthritis? Tips to Stay Active & Reduce Pain

Posted On Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Living with Knee Arthritis? Tips to Stay Active & Reduce Pain

Many of my patients tell me that they can’t be active because of arthritis. This leads to a domino effect of decreased activity, increased weight, and finally, worsening pain.

Arthritis does not mean that an active lifestyle must be stopped. Rather, a diagnosis of arthritis should be looked at as an invitation to change your routine and explore new stretching and exercise options that will allow you to stay fit while reducing the pain triggered by your osteoarthritis.

There is no doubt that the pain can become severe at times. However, the right amount of exercise along with the right type of exercise can actually help ease the pain and discomfort.

How Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis Patients

While no one wants to live with the burden of knee pain or managing knee pain, patients have several options to help reduce pain.

Audrey Lynn Millar, PT, PhD, an exercise physiologist and professor of Physical Therapy at Winston Salem State University, and author of Action Plan for Arthritis, explains that you need to exercise to strengthen the muscles around your arthritic joints.

Likewise, you need to stay mobile, so your joints don’t get stiff. Too much sitting around will not help reduce the knee pain brought on by arthritis. In fact, it will do just the opposite and make it worse. Stretching keeps you limber and helps to increase range of motion, which takes pressure off the joints.

Types of Exercises to Do When You Have Knee Arthritis

According to the National Library of Medicine, there are three very common and simple exercises you can do that will help ease the joint pain brought on by your arthritis. These include:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Biking

Any type of water exercise increases muscle mass in your legs. Water exercises are easy on the joints while offering about 12 times more resistance than the same exercises done on land. Increased muscle mass helps to absorb the stress placed on the joints.

The same is true of walking. Try walking on a flat surface like a sidewalk or a track. Walking in the woods or on rugged terrain is hard on the joints and could actually increase your pain levels. Also, be sure to wear a good walking shoes properly designed to absorb impact.

Biking is another great way to build muscle mass in the legs. Remember to slowly increase the distance biked and resistance to get the most out of your workout.

Another very proactive measure you can take to keep yourself active in spite of your knee arthritis is to speak with a physical therapist. Therapists can easily design an exercise plan made up of some low impact exercises to extend range of motion. Exercises that help to strengthen your legs will do wonders for reducing the pain osteoarthritis elicits in your joints.

While no one wants arthritis, the right balance of moderate exercise done the right way can reduce the pain in your joints and allow you to continue to live an active lifestyle.

Dr. Jan Szatkowski

Dr. Szatkowski is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic trauma surgeon who specializes in preventing or reducing permanent disability in the most complex orthopaedic cases. Dr. Szatkowski treats patients for various orthopaedic needs such as post-traumatic arthritis, simple and complex fractures, revision surgery and joint replacement surgery at the Andrews Institute.

Dr. Szatkowski has previously practiced in Chicago, where he was the chairman of orthopaedics at one of the busiest trauma centers in the country, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Dr. Szatkowski completed a fellowship at Campbell Clinic's Level 1 Trauma Center at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Szatkowski is passionate about providing the highest quality of care possible with open, honest communications with patients; treating the patient as an entire person, rather than just the immediate medical problem.

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