Osteoarthritis

Your knee is a hinge joint with cartilage covering the ends of the bones, to allow smooth movement when you bend or straighten it. It also contains a different type of cartilage called the “meniscus”.

What is osteoarthritis? 

Osteoarthritis is a normal process of wear and tear that occurs over many years.  Previous sporting activity, injuries and knee operations unfortunately does make us more prone to suffering from “wear and tear arthritis” later in life. 

Osteoarthritis is most common in the knee joint and unfortunately for most patients experiencing knee pain over the age of 45 it will be caused by osteoarthritis. This doesn’t however mean that a knee replacement is required, and that activity should stop. 

Symptoms experienced 

Knee osteoarthritis presents with symptoms of pain, stiffness, loss of movement, swelling and at times deformity. Pain and stiffness is often most significant first thing on a morning and late at night. 

Pain itself can lead to your knees giving way because the muscles around the joint become weak. 

 

What Can I do to improve my pain? 

Strengthening exercises, won’t take away the arthritis changes inside your knee but by strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the knee the amount of pain and stiffness experienced can be reduced and the knee will become more stable. 

People often worry that exercise will make their arthritis worse. The truth is however that for most people the more mobile and active you are the less pain and weakness you will experience from your knee arthritis. Non weight bearing exercise such as straight leg swimming (frogs leg kicking may worsen your pain) and cycling are ideal knee strengthening exercises.  

We would recommend as many repetitions as comfortable or till fatigue initially. 

At Sunderland IMS we run a “hip and Knee school” to help people improve their knee strength whilst also reducing their pain. We would recommend carrying out exercises daily to every other day based on your comfort. It is natural to feel discomfort when you first start exercising as your muscle need to get used to exercise 

A copy of the class exercise booklet is attached and can be worked through at home. Click here to view or download

What if strengthening exercises fail to offer sufficient benefit? 

If strengthening exercises aren’t possible due to the severity of pain experienced, then a steroid injection can temporarily reduce the pain. This enables benefit to be gained from the exercises. Steroid injection alone however has possible complications and does not offer a long-term solution to knee osteoarthritis.

On occasions when a patient’s symptoms are so severe to wake them form sleep and affect their daily activity then a surgical opinion to consider a knee replacement may be needed.  

 

 

Please note -
These are general exercises, seek advice if you are unsure.

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