Regular physical activity is critical for overall health, particularly for those who suffer from arthritis. Engaging in exercise can improve muscle strength, flexibility, and mobility, which can make daily movements less challenging. It has also been proven to alleviate joint pain and combat fatigue, making it an essential component of arthritis management.
While exercise is a crucial part of managing knee arthritis, during the later stages of the disease it can become difficult. Research has shown that participating in exercise therapy in early-stage knee arthritis can help improve mobility, reduce degeneration, and improve quality of life. Discover everything you need to know about exercise and early-stage knee arthritis below.
Why exercise is crucial in early-stage knee arthritis
Knee arthritis, like any form of arthritis, worsens over time. As the degeneration of the affected joint progresses, mobility becomes increasingly challenging. In the early stages of the condition, movement is relatively unrestricted, making it easier to engage in physical activity.
A study published last month in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal found that exercise therapy reduced pain scores in both the short and long term and they were even lower in those whose symptom durations were shorter.
“Exercise indeed seems especially beneficial in patients with shorter symptom duration and should therefore be encouraged at first symptom presentation,” Marienke van Middelkoop, the study’s author explained.
Engaging in exercise therapy during the early stages of knee arthritis can help delay its onset, maintain joint mobility, and improve overall quality of life. By incorporating exercise therapy into their daily routine, patients can benefit from increased strength and flexibility, improved joint function, and decreased pain and stiffness.
Exercise therapy offers a safe and effective alternative for managing various chronic conditions, and can potentially reduce the need for injections, medications, or surgery. There is ample scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of exercise therapy in treating at least 26 different chronic conditions.
What exercises are most beneficial?
To benefit from exercise therapy during the early stages of knee arthritis, focus on increasing flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness. Range-of-motion exercises can help reduce stiffness in joints and promote full range of motion. Example exercises include stretching the arms up high and rolling the shoulders backwards and forwards.
Strengthening exercises are also beneficial, helping to build strong muscles that support and protect the joints. Weight training, dumbbells, and resistance bands can be used to increase muscle strength during the early stages of knee arthritis.
Finally, aerobic exercises can help increase the heart rate and promote overall fitness. Examples include cycling, brisk walking, and swimming. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase intensity and duration as fitness improves.
Before trying out any type of exercise for your knee arthritis, consult a medical professional. A physical therapist can help create a personalised plan to best suit you.
Treating advanced knee arthritis
While exercise can benefit those with advanced stage knee arthritis, it can be extremely challenging. If the condition has progressed and is affecting your daily life, knee replacement surgery may be recommended.
This procedure involves removing the damaged bone and cartilage from the knee joint, replacing it with an artificial joint made of metal or plastic components. It is typically reserved for those who have severe knee pain that interferes with daily activities, and who have exhausted other treatment options. There are different techniques that can be used including robotic assisted knee replacements.
If you are struggling with severe knee arthritis and are considering knee replacement surgery, it is crucial to consult with an experienced orthopaedic consultant. Mr Jonathon Webb has decades of experience helping patients improve their quality of life through personalised treatment plans, including knee replacement surgery.
Don’t let knee arthritis interfere with your daily life. Book an appointment with Mr Jonathan Webb at either his London or Bristol knee replacement clinics.