Osteoarthritis is a disease that worsens over time, often resulting in long term pain. This pain and stiffness in your knee can become severe enough to make even simple daily tasks such as walking, or taking the stairs difficult. However, do not panic this is not end, this is just the beginning of learning how to manage your symptoms.
Here are five things to do to manage knee osteoarthritis to make your life easier:
1. Remain active: Although you may want to move as little as possible because of the pain that you are in, you need to try to perform low impact exercises and stretching as frequently as possible. Even taking a walk in the park would suffice! Your muscles protect and support joints affected by osteoarthritis, so the stronger that they are, the less pain you will be in.
2) Manage your diet: A balanced, nutritious diet will give the body the tools it needs to prevent further damage to the joints, which is essential for people with osteoarthritis. Some foods are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and following an anti-inflammatory diet can improve symptoms. Eating enough antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, may help to prevent further damage to the joints
3) Ice: After an active day, your joints will screaming for some TLC. It is important when you note any swelling in your knee joint to take some time out of your day and ice for at least 10 minutes a day, 2-3x a day based on your activity level.
4) Rest: Discomfort is normal, pain is not! Exercise can help people develop healthy joints and muscles, but overuse of joints can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Balance is key! If your joints are swollen or achy, give them a break. Try to avoid using a swollen joint for at least 12 to 24 hours. Letting an injured joint heal helps reduce the risk of further injury in the future.
5) Physics matters!:
Did you know that 1lb Off the Body = 4 lbs Off the Knees? Excess weight is one of the biggest risk factors of osteoarthritis, as it puts extra stress on your joints, which can speed up the deterioration of joint cartilage. Overweight and obese individuals are at high risk of developing Osteoarthritis. Losing weight can help reduce pain and improve symptoms.
Discomfort and soreness are a part of life. What is not normal is living with pain. If you are still experiencing that pain, it's time to talk to your physical therapist or primary care physician.
Try to stay away from narcotics, injections and knife happy surgeons as a primary option for your treatment. There are no magic bullets, but majority of pain symptoms can be resolved with conservative measures like exercises, manual therapy and pain management.
Irfan Ibrahim is an Owner/Physical Therapist at Rehabon Physical Therapy, Downers Grove IL 60515. He enjoys sunshine and rainbows with his three children. Loves hiking, biking and golfing but he has accepted to live with his mediocre skills. Questions??!! Email him: Irfan@rehabon.com follow him on Facebook