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What Are Exercises To Manage Arthritis In The Knee?

Last updated Sept. 12, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Exercises have known to be a healthy and effective way of battling arthritis. Suitable exercises as per the specific form of arthritis need to be practiced.

Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints clinically manifested by pain, swelling, and stiffness that worsens with advancing age in most cases. Common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. More than fifty million adults experience and combat some form of arthritis as per the statistical data projected by the National Centre for Health Services. The most common of these arthritis forms is osteoarthritis that leads to complaints of pains and aches, especially in the knees, and it is known as wear-and-tear arthritis as well.

Exercises have known to be a healthy and effective way of battling arthritis. Suitable exercises as per the specific form of arthritis need to be practiced. Consulting a doctor for advice prior to initiating exercise and exercising under the supervision of a trainer is extremely important. The exercise regimen must include a combination of motion exercises (to enhance flexibility, mobility and reduce stiffness), strengthening exercises (to build the core functionality and muscles) and aerobic exercise (to enhance cardiac health and facilitate improvement in over-all fitness). It is always a good idea to start slow on these exercises and limit the time spent on them during the initial periods. Those with knee arthritis may begin by practicing moderate-intensity physical activity. The goal to tackle knee pain is in regular exercise, a balanced diet, enough vitamin D, and if you are overweight – in attaining a healthy weight, which can reduce a lot of pressure on the knees.

Exercises recommended for knee arthritis include:

Step-ups: Climbing up the stair and getting back down with the right leg first and then switching after a minute to the left leg (first) as fast as possible. This is called as step-ups. This exercise must be performed without wearing any footwear and the individual must hold on to a railing and continue until he or she is short of breath.

Knee squats: Squat while holding onto a heavy chair or any piece of furniture, until the knee covers the distance beyond the reach of the toes. This exercise must be repeated about fifteen times a day at moderate speed.

Leg stretches: Sitting with the back relaxed on a wall, stretching and bending both legs alternatively and holding on for five seconds each time. This should be repeated about twenty times each day.

Leg cross: Sitting on the edge of a chair, keep your legs crossed. The crossed legs (both right and left leg alternatively) must be then swung up and down at a slow pace for a duration of five minutes. This may be performed twice a day.

Sits and stands: Sitting down and standing up on a chair at a slow pace without using hand support. Each time about ten sits and stands should be practiced. This set of exercise may be done twice daily.

Exercises not only help reduce pain, but also aids in preventing symptoms from occurring in future. Painkillers may be advised for severe pains, but it is important to make sure that medication schedules and dosages must be followed strictly as per prescriptions. Follow-ups with the medical practitioner can help future guidance and speedy improvements to knee arthritis. Other exercises, dietary changes and supplements may be recommended depending on the health status of the individual. A 1988 Framingham study conducted by David and co-authors concluded that knee osteoarthritis is strongly associated with obesity and other factors linked closely to obesity. Hence, attaining a normal weight is necessary to take the additional loads off one’s knees.

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Sept. 12, 2018
Last updated: Sept. 12, 2018