Do you wake up with painful or stiff knees in the morning? Are you finding your daily walks or climbing stairs harder than usual? This is the blog for you!
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. This joint disease is characterised by a break down in the cartilage (smooth cushioning) between the bones in joints. This can lead to painful, swollen joints and difficulty moving. While OA can affect any joint in the body, the knee is most common.
It is estimated that the number of people affected by OA will increase by approximately 50% over the next 20 years and one third of older adults will have evidence of knee OA in X-Ray scans. OA affects people of all ages and is very common in ages 50 and over. Did you know that OA affects women more than men? The good news is there are many ways to manage OA to prevent or minimise pain and stay active!
What are signs and symptoms of knee OA?
- Reduced strength
- Knee stiffness – particularly first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long time
- Knee pain – especially with activities such as squatting, stair climbing and kneeling
- Difficulty with movement
- Feeling like your knee might ‘give way’
What does knee OA look like?
What about exercise?
Does exercise make OA worse? The answer is NO! The latest international guidelines for OA strongly recommends all forms of exercise for the management of knee OA. Research shows that including strength training into your weekly routine (2-3 days a week) has significant benefits for your pain, strength and ability to carry out your usual daily activities.
- Strength or resistance training involves the use of body weight, resistance bands, free weights or machine weights.
- There is strong recent evidence supporting strength training as an effective way to strengthen the muscles which support your joints and minimise cartilage breakdown. This can help with decreasing your knee pain and stiffness, making everyday activities such as walking and squatting much easier!
- These benefits can be a result of leg exercises or a combination of upper and lower body exercise for general strengthening. Studies show that hip and calf strengthening also helps support your knee joint.
What about surgery?
20% of people who have joint replacement surgery find that pain persists.
What can I do now?
Did you know? Physiotherapists are skilled in designing strength programs for patients with knee OA. We take into consideration the severity of your condition as well as your pain levels. You can book an appointment for assessment of your strength, knee range of motion and pain levels before starting your exercise program. Where you start will depend on your current function and a we can help guide you along your journey to living an active and pain-free life!
The Healthy Body Company is also developing an online program so that you can do the work to improve your knees in your own home and your own time.
This exciting offering is part of our realisation that we can do great things to support our community online. Register your interest here to learn home about our Healthy Knees program.
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- Ferreira, R., Torres, R., Duarte, J. & Goncalves, R. (2019). Non-Pharmacological and Non-Surgical Interventions for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Acta Reumatologica Portuguesa 2019 Jul 29;44(3):173-217.
- Fransen, M., McConnell, S., Harmer, A., Van der Esch, M., Simic, M., Bennell, K. (2015). Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004376. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004376.pub3.
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- Li, Y., Youxin, S., Shaoqing, C., Yingjie, Z., Ziyi, Z., Changyan, L., Meili, L., Feiwen, L., Shuzhen, L., Zhen, H., Wang, Y., Sheng, L., Wenting, W., Zhengxuan, Z., Xu, W. & Zheng, N. (2016). The effects of resistance exercise in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2016;30(10):947-959.
- Tanaka, R., Ozawa, J., Kito, N. & Moriyama, H. (2013). Efficacy of strengthening or aerobic exercise on pain relief in people with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Rehabilitation 27(12) 1059–1071. DOI: 10.1177/0269215513488898
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