Arthritis Knee Pain Treatment at Home
Arthritis is a debilitating health condition from which many people suffer. Although it is a condition that can affect any joint in the body, one of the most common areas affected is the knee joints. This can have a serious impact on people’s lives as it can affect their ability to complete many daily tasks and can cause them significant pain. One way to reduce the symptoms of knee arthritis is to exercise the joint. The following is an overview of knee arthritis along with a complete guide to knee arthritis exercises.
What is Arthritis of the Knee?
It is a common misapprehension that arthritis is a single medical condition. This is not true as it is an umbrella term used to describe a group of more than 200 conditions that affect the joints. The most common of these is osteoarthritis, although rheumatoid arthritis is another common form of this condition. These conditions cause pain and inflammation to one or more of the joints. The term knee arthritis simply refers to one of these conditions that impact on one or both knee joints. Many forms are more common in people over the age of 65, but people of any age can suffer from an arthritic condition, including children.
The Types of Arthritis
Although there are more than 200 conditions that are a form of arthritis, these are all within the following seven categories:
• Inflammatory Arthritis
• Metabolic arthritis
• Infectious arthritis
• Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
• Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain
• Connective tissue disease
• Back pain
What Are the Causes of Knee Arthritis?
Depending on the type of arthritis, there are different potential causes of this condition. Some of the potential causes of arthritis include:
• Abnormal metabolism
• Genetic makeup
• Immune system dysfunction
• Wear and tear due to age
What Are the Symptoms of Knee Arthritis?
The symptoms of knee arthritis can vary from one person to the next. Similarly, the extent to which a person suffers from any one of the symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Some of the most common symptoms of knee arthritis include:
• Pain, aching or throbbing
• Swelling in or around the joint
• Stiffness and reduced function
How Is Knee Arthritis Treated?
In most cases, arthritis of the knee is incurable. However, it is possible to treat or reduce many of the symptoms in several ways. Some of the most common treatments include:
• Pain management medication
• Anti-inflammatory medication
• Knee supports or braces
• Surgery to replace the affected joint
• Patient education
Can Exercise Help Knee Arthritis?
Often, people make the mistake of thinking that the best thing to do to reduce the symptoms of knee arthritis is to rest the joint. During times of inflammation and severe pain, rest can sometimes help. However, in the long-term, it is important to keep the joint active as this can help to reduce the symptoms. Exercise for knee arthritis is important for the following reasons:
• Joint motion - Knee exercises can help to keep the full motion of the knee joint.
• Joint strength - Exercises that are part of strength training and focus specifically on the knee will strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint.
• Absorbing shock - If the muscles that support the knee joint are strong, then they will help the joint to absorb shock.
• Weight maintenance - Obesity can increase the risk of wear and tear on the joints. Similarly, being overweight can increase the symptoms of knee arthritis. Regular exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
A Guide to Knee Exercises
Although exercise is proven to help knee arthritis, it is important to choose the right knee exercises to make sure you get the most benefits out of the exercises and avoid activities that will potentially cause more harm than good. The following is a guide to the best exercises for knee osteoarthritis and other arthritic conditions that affect the knee.
One of the simplest exercises for people with knee arthritis is walking. This is a completely free activity that you can enjoy every day in your local area. In addition to reducing the symptoms of your knee arthritis, walking is beneficial to many other aspects of your health. It will help you to maintain a healthy weight, so it reduces the likelihood of you developing serious conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Walking is also good for your mental well-being as it gets you out of the house and allows you to meet new people.
If you start a walking regime, you should make sure that you are wearing shoes that are sturdy and comfortable. It is best to start slowly and then to increase your pace. You can gradually increase the distance you walk. It can help to wear a knee support or a sports brace while you are walking for some extra support around the joint.
• Water-Based Activities
Exercise in water is a good choice for those who suffer from arthritis for two reasons. First, the water's buoyancy reduces the impact on the joints, so it is a safe way of exercising an arthritic knee. Second, the water acts as a form of resistance, so your body must work a little harder. Water-based exercises are a fantastic form of strength training and can also improve your knee motion and flexibility.
Taking a gentle swim or walking in the shallow end of the pool are two of the simplest options. You should also check if your local pool or gym runs any water exercise classes. Attending such a class will mean you take part in various exercises that can benefit not only your knee but also your general health. The classes are a great way of meeting new people.
Another option is cycling, as this can help to strengthen the muscles and keep your joints mobile. However, you must begin with short cycles over the flat ground if you are a cycling novice. You can then gradually increase the distances you cover as you build your confidence and develop an awareness of your abilities and limitations. It is important to avoid high-impact cycling over rough terrains, such as mountain biking, as this can put a lot of strain and shock on the joints.
Another excellent exercise for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is Pilates. This low-impact exercise targets specific areas of the body to improve alignment. In turn, this cuts the pressure on joints to relieve symptoms and reduce pain. It can also improve strength, mobility, and flexibility.
Knee Exercises for at Home
Although there are some excellent classes and groups that you can join to exercise your knees, it is not necessary to leave the comfort of your home to exercise. There are many knee arthritis exercises that you can do at home for free and at your convenience. The following is an overview of some of the simplest and most effective knee exercises that you can complete at home.
• Straight Leg Raise from Lying Position
A straight leg stretch from a lying position is good for stretching the quadriceps, which are the large leg muscles at the front of your thighs that attach to your knee joints. A good starting point is completing one set of four with each leg before gradually increasing the number of leg raises.
1. Lie flat on the floor on your back with your arms straight by your side and your toes pointing upwards.
2. While keeping your leg straight, slowly raise one leg several inches from the ground.
3. Keeping your stomach muscles tightened and your lower back pushed to the floor, hold your leg above the ground for about five seconds.
4. As slowly as you can, lower the leg back towards the ground.
5. Repeat the desired number of times with the same leg before switching to the next leg.
• Half Squat
A pain-free exercise that can help knees with arthritis is half squats. This strengthens the gluteus and the muscles on the front and back of your thighs. It is best to start slowly doing 10 repetitions. You can gradually increase to three sets of 10 repetitions.
1. Wearing comfortable shoes, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Stretch your arms out straight in front of you.
3. Slowly, bend your knees until you are in a half-sitting position. If necessary, you can hold on to a chair for balance.
4. As you bend, keep your chest lifted and your back straight without leaning forward.
5. Hold the position for around five seconds before slowly straightening into a standing position.
• Hamstring Stretch from Lying Position
This hamstring stretch also strengthens the hamstrings, which are the muscles on the rear of the thigh that attach to the knee. You should do the following routine once time on each leg.
1. Lie flat on the floor with both your legs bent.
2. Put your hands on one of your knees and then draw your knee towards your chest.
3. Straighten the other leg on the floor.
4. Put your hands on the back of the thigh of the leg and pull it towards your chest.
5. Slowly, straighten out the raised leg until it is as straight as possible and you can feel the stretch.
6. Hold the leg in position for at least 30 seconds, gradually increasing this time as you become accustomed to the stretching in the following days or weeks.
7. Slowly, bend the knee of your raised leg before lowering the leg back to the floor.
8. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
• Leg Stretches
Not only is a sitting leg stretch good for your knees, but it will also strengthen your quadriceps. You should start by repeating this exercise ten times on each leg, but you can switch legs when you tire.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and keeping your back straight.
2. Position your hands on either side of your hips with your palms flat on the floor to stabilize yourself.
3. Keeping your toes pointing up, pull one heel along the floor so that your knee bends towards your chest.
4. Hold the leg in that position for at least five seconds.
5. Slowly straighten out the leg again until it is flat to the floor and your toes are still pointing upwards.
6. Hold in that position for at least five seconds.
7. Repeat with the same leg ten times, or until it begins to feel uncomfortable.
8. Repeat the same process with the other leg.
• One-Leg Dip
The one-leg dip is an exercise that strengthens the muscles on both the front and back of your thighs. It also strengthens the muscles in your buttocks. You should start with one set of four leg dips for each leg before working up to three sets.
1. Position a chair on either side of you as you will need them for balance.
2. Raise one leg about12-inches out in front of you.
3. Holding your back straight, bend the other leg while keeping your back straight.
4. Hold the position for five seconds before straightening back up.
5. Repeat four times using the same leg before switching legs and repeating the process.
• Side Leg Lifts While Standing
Side leg lifts strengthen the inner and outer muscles of the thigh, along with the buttocks. This is an easy exercise to complete anywhere in your home. This exercise can also improve balance, stability, and strength. Like with all the exercises, you can gradually increase the number of side leg lifts you complete daily.
1. Stand with your feet together, your back straight, and your hands on your hips.
2. Lean your body weight onto your left leg and raise your left leg sideways approximately 12-inches away from your body.
3. Hold your leg out to the side for around five seconds.
4. Slowly lower your foot back to the floor.
5. Repeat four times with the same leg, before repeating a set of four side leg lifts with the other leg.
6. If you have trouble with your balance, you can hold the back of a chair, a table, or a work surface while completing this exercise.
• Standing Kick-Backs
Kick-backs can improve leg muscle strength and reduce stiffness in your knee joints. You will need a chair or a flat surface around waist-height to complete this exercise.
1. Stand with your feet together with your back straight while holding on to the back of a chair or any flat surface at waist height.
2. Slowly bend your knee to raise your left foot behind your body until your foot is level with your knee.
3. Hold in this position for five seconds before lowering your foot back to the floor slowly.
4. Repeat four or five times with the same foot, before switching to the other foot to repeat the process.
• The Clam
'The Clam' is an exercise that involves lying on the floor. This exercise is good for knee arthritis because it reduces stiffness in the knee and works the inner and outer thigh muscles.
1. Lie down on the floor on your side.
2. Tuck your lower arm under your head for support and place the hand of your upper arm on the floor in front of you for stabilization.
3. Bend your knees slightly towards your chest, but not so far that they are level with your hips.
4. Keeping your hips straight and your feet together, slowly raise the upper knee before slowly closing your knees back together.
5. Repeat on the same side five times, although you can gradually increase the number of repetitions over time.
6. Turn onto your other side and repeat the process with the other knee.
• Quadricep Stretch
The quadriceps play an important role in supporting the knee joint, so keeping the quadriceps strong and healthy is important if you have knee arthritis. One of the simplest ways of doing this is with the quadricep stretch.
1. Lie down flat on the floor on your front with your arms outstretched above your head.
2. Take your right arm and put it by your side while bending your right knee to draw your foot up to your right buttock.
3. Take your right foot in your right hand and hold for five seconds.
4. Release your foot and slowly put it back on the floor.
5. Put your right arm back to its original outstretched position above your head. Repeat the process with your left arm and leg.
• The Leg Cross
One of the best knee arthritis exercises for improving motion, reducing fitness, and strengthening the knees is ‘The Leg Cross’.
1. Sit on the floor with your back straight.
2. Cross your legs so that your feet are almost directly under your knees.
3. Slowly, raise your knees from their outward position towards each other until your knees are as close as possible.
4. Return your knees to their outward position slowly so that you can feel the stretch.
Some Tips for Knee Exercises
If you are completing these knee arthritis exercises, the following tips can help you to get the most out of your exercise program.
• Start slowly and gradually increase the number of exercises you complete daily.
• Make sure you wear appropriate clothes.
• Wearing a knee brace can help to support your knees when completing exercises.
• Experiencing some pain after exercise is normal. However, if the pain is severe, stop the exercise.
• Monitor your progress. Make a note of the exercises that reduce your symptoms the most and any that cause you pain. Even if you exercise regularly, you should monitor any changes.
• It is best to seek the advice of your medical practitioner before embarking on a new exercise program if you have any health condition. Similarly, check whether it is advisable to wear a knee brace or sports support.
• Ideally, people with arthritis should complete some gentle stretching before and after the knee exercises.
Are There Some Types of Exercise to Avoid If You Have Knee Arthritis?
Although many exercises can help knee arthritis by reducing the symptoms, this does not mean that all exercises are good for knee arthritis. There are some types of exercise to avoid if you have knee arthritis, and these are generally high-impact activities that will put a strain on the knee joint. Some examples of the activities that are best avoided by people with arthritis include:
• Contact sports
• Deep squatting and lunging
• Repetitive jumping
• High-impact aerobic exercise
If you participated in any of these activities before your diagnosis of knee arthritis and would like to continue, you should seek medical advice. They may say you can continue with some of these activities if you reduce the time you spend on them and if you wear a knee brace for extra support.
Exercises for Knee Arthritis - The Final Verdict
Suffering from an arthritic condition can cause pain and reduced function that has a debilitating impact on the sufferer. Some of the ways to relieve the symptoms are medication, wearing a knee brace, and exercising the affected joints regularly. By exercising the joint, you can reduce the pain, increase mobility, improve shock absorption, and strengthen the joint. It can also reduce the likelihood of needing surgery on the joint. There are many simple exercises for knee arthritis that you can complete in the comfort of your home at your convenience. There are also options if you prefer to get out and about or join classes, including walking, cycling, Pilates, and water-based activities.