5 Things You Need To Know About Knee Arthritis
Knee arthritis comes with a set of symptoms that can be managed with the right guidance. We at Colorado In Motion often treat clients with knee arthritis through a variety of techniques, including physical therapy modalities designed to improve range of motion and minimize pain.
In today’s blog we want to cover knee arthritis, focusing on five things about this condition that you need to know and offering some insight on how to better manage pain when it flares up.
Different Types Of Knee Arthritis Exist
There are different types of arthritis that can affect the knees. The most common, particularly as we age, is knee osteoarthritis, but it’s not the only type that may be present. If your knees are stiff and painful, either periodically or chronically, one or more of the following types of arthritis could be behind your symptoms:
- Osteoarthritis: When cartilage that protects the bones at the knee joint breaks down, this type of arthritis results, leading to stiffness, pain, and reduced motion.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: This is a chronic inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks the joint linings; symptoms can include swelling, pain, and inflammation.
- Juvenile Arthritis: When knee arthritis affects individuals who are 16 years of age and younger, it’s called juvenile arthritis, and symptoms can include swelling and pain.
- Reactive Arthritis: This chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis may develop in the knees following a bacterial infection in another system within the body.
- Infectious Arthritis: If the knee joint itself becomes infected by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, this type of arthritis may develop.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: An autoimmune disease, this condition may appear in some people with skin psoriasis. Symptoms can include knee pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness.
- Gout: A type of inflammatory arthritis, this can result when uric acid crystals form in the knee joint, causing symptoms of pain, redness, and swelling.
- Pseudogout: Similar to gout, the pain, swelling, and redness that can appear with this condition come from calcium crystal deposits in the knee joint.
By far, most people who experience knee pain and stiffness where arthritis is the suspected culprit have osteoarthritis, which we’ll focus on for the rest of this blog.
Early Symptoms Can Differ From Those Present As The Condition Advances
Knee osteoarthritis doesn’t happen overnight. It is a degenerative disease, and early symptoms may be harder to detect. Often, it’s not bothersome to the individual until the more advanced stages.
While people over the age of 60 have a higher risk of developing symptoms, younger individuals (especially runners and other athletes who give their knees an intense workout) can also develop symptoms.
During the earlier stages of this condition, pain may not be present, but symptoms like morning stiffness or having locked, stiff knees after any period of rest can point to early-stage knee arthritis. Recognizing this condition during its initial stages can be key to making changes to lifestyle and routine that will prevent or postpone more severe symptoms from developing later on.
Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce The Severity And Frequency Of Symptoms
So what can you do to keep arthritis from developing or advancing to the more painful later stages of the condition? It turns out, there are plenty of ways to protect your knees from painful arthritis! Here are several:
- Shed Excess Pounds: Extra weight can place undue burden on the knees, leading to quicker degradation. By losing excess pounds and being leaner, you’ll take some of the pressure off your knee joints.
- Get Into The Habit Of Moving: You don’t need to do intense workouts, but movement is extremely helpful for a well-functioning knee. Regular movement can improve circulation and prevent knees from getting stiff or swollen.
- Eat A Healthy Diet: When you consume a nutrient-rich, balanced diet with plenty of fresh produce, you can keep all of your joints healthier, including your knee joints.
- Practice Relaxation Techniques: Bringing down your levels of stress leads to numerous benefits, including reducing the incidence and severity of knee arthritis flare-ups.
The more you can do naturally at home, the less medical intervention you will likely need, and the better you’ll feel overall!
The Right Exercises Can Make A World Of Difference
When you have knee arthritis, the wrong exercises can cause more damage, but the right exercises will strengthen your knees while reducing painful, uncomfortable symptoms. Here are some types of exercises that work especially well for individuals with knee arthritis:
- Walking: Choose your favorite setting and go for a walk! This activity is easy on the knee joints and comes with numerous other benefits, from strengthening muscles that support the joints to lowering blood pressure.
- Flexibility Exercises: To improve your range of motion without experiencing painful flare-ups, incorporate gentle stretching exercises into your routine.
- Aquatic Workouts: When you exercise in water, you benefit from its buoyancy, which helps relieve pressure from all of your joints.
- Strengthening Exercises: Activities that strengthen your muscles are beneficial because strong muscles can better support knee joints.
If you’d like more ideas for exercises that will strengthen your knees and reduce symptoms of pain, ask your physical therapist, chiropractor, or general practitioner.
Physical Therapy Can Address The Underlying Issues And Bring You Benefits
Before resorting to surgical intervention, work with a physical therapist. You may be amazed at how much improvement you can make without requiring surgery or large quantities of pharmaceuticals. A physical therapist will evaluate your condition and prescribe a course of treatment that includes targeted exercises and that may involve nutritional supplements.
Your therapist will likely utilize a multipoint approach that includes cold therapy, heat therapy, hydrotherapy, and a wide range of strengthening and flexibility exercises (some of which you’ll work on together at the clinic and others that you’ll practice at home on your own) to achieve improvements. While results vary from one person to the next, you can expect to see some level of progress. In particular, you’ll likely note reduced pain, swelling, and stiffness, which means you’ll have an easier time when you walk, kneel, sit, squat, or shift position.
Contact Colorado In Motion To Learn More
At Colorado In Motion, our physical therapists have a great deal of training and experience with knee arthritis. They can work with you to develop a personalized plan that addresses your specific symptoms, enabling you to enjoy both immediate and long-term benefits.
Our physical therapy services are designed to increase your range of motion, regain muscle strength, reduce stiffness, manage pain, increase flexibility, and give you tools that you can use wherever you go to reduce symptoms of knee arthritis, whatever type you may have and whatever symptoms may be present. To get started on your wellness journey, get in touch with Colorado In Motion today!