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Knee Arthritis? Simply Reading This Could Reduce Your Knee Pain

Just by reading this, you could reduce your knee pain. 


3.7 million Australia had arthritis in 2022, which equated to almost 15% of the population. Meaning that if you are standing in a room with 6 other people, one of the people in the room is pretty likely to have arthritis. The joint most commonly affected by osteoarthritis is the knee. Despite so many people suffering from osteoarthritis, not many people know what it is, how it occurs or how to manage it, so we wanted to do our bit to help those people. 


So… 


What is Knee Osteoarthritis? 

Just by reading the name of some medical conditions we can learn a little bit about what is going on. Knee osteoarthritis (Knee OA) is one of these conditions. 


Osteo is latin for bone

Arthro is latin for joint

Itis is latin for inflammation 


So, we can now understand that knee OA involves some sort of inflammation of the knee joint and its surrounds. But, what actually happens and why? 


Knee OA is a degenerative joint disease, meaning that things are breaking down (often a very normal process within the body). What degenerates with knee OA is the articular cartilage, which is a layer of connective tissue that sits atop of bones to provide a smooth lubricated surface for articulation or movement. 


The normal process within the body is that degradation or the breaking down of cartilage is matched with an equal amount of synthesis or growth of new cartilage, so we constantly have fresh, healthy cartilage to aid our movement. In knee OA the inflammatory process creates an imbalance between break down and growth, in which the cartilage gets broken down more than it gets repaired. In turn, this creates a less elastic cartilage that can sometimes cause pain with articulation or movement. 


So, why does this happen to some people? 


Truthfully, half the time with knee OA, we don't know and this is classified as primary osteoarthritis. The other half the time it is classified as secondary arthritis which is when degeneration occurs secondary to a bunch of different things including other mechanical injuries (like a fall or that old football injury), trauma (like a car accident or surgeries) or inflammatory conditions (like other forms of arthritis). 

How Does Exercise Help Knee Osteoarthritis? 

If you only read the above and you or someone you know had knee OA, you may be thinking “okay, so the cartilage isn't as good as it used to be and when I move my knee is when I need my cartilage, so I should just move it less”. But, whilst there will be times where movement will be more difficult and there will be times when movement will make your knee more sore or inflamed, no matter what you do, this doesn't mean you are doing more damage, nor does it mean movement is bad for you. 


In fact, movement, well the right movement or exercise can actually somewhat reverse the process of what is happening. Exercise can have an anti-inflammatory and anti-breakdown effect on cartilage and better yet, it also has an anabolic or increased synthesis effect on the cartilage. This ultimately, helps you keep your cartilage healthier for longer. 

What Exercises Should I Do?

Start small and build slowly. Remember, if sometimes your knee feels worse after exercise, that does not necessarily mean you have done something wrong, it just means you have done something different and your body is letting you know that is the case. The key is however, finding exercises you can do that help you get stronger, move better and feel better, with as little negative response as possible. 


Here are three simple exercises that can help strengthen your knee in the right way:


  1. Sit to Stand: All you need is a chair! Start seated on the chair with your arms crossed and stand all the way up before returning to a seated position. 

  2. Do this for 2 rounds for 5 - 10 repetitions, resting for at least 1 minute between efforts. Importantly, stop 3 repetitions before you couldnt do anymore, if you cant get to 5, use a higher chair, if you can do more than 10, then try holding something heavy (like a grocery bag full of things) whilst you do them. 








  1. Glute Bridge: This exercise is great to target the muscles in your posterior chain which are those at the back of your legs and bottom. Start by lying on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. From here, lift your hips up off the floor (or bed) by pushing through your heels and squeezing your bottom. Hold for a second at the top before returning to the starting position. 

  2. Do this for 2 rounds for 5 -15 repetitions, resting for at least 1 minute between. 





  1. Terminal Knee Extension: Whilst you are on your back or your bum, place a small pillow under your knee, then try to keep your knee on the pillow and lift your foot off the ground and hold your knee out straight for 2 seconds.

  2. Do this for 2 rounds for 5 -15 repetitions, resting for at least 1 minute between. 





Ps, 

If you made it to the end and are thinking, “hey I thought my knee would be better by now”, apologies, it takes some time. But, the reason that reading this alone could help you reduce your knee pain is because one of the most effective things they have found to help people with knee osteoarthritis is education and just understanding what is going on better. So, truly, I hoped this helped, if you know someone else who has knee osteoarthritis, why don't you send this to them so you can help them too?


References

  1. Leong, D. J., & Sun, H. B. (2014). Osteoarthritis - Why Exercise?. Journal of exercise, sports & orthopedics, 1(1), 04. https://doi.org/10.15226/2374-6904/1/1/00104

  2. Dantas, L. O., Salvini, T. F., & McAlindon, T. E. (2021). Knee osteoarthritis: key treatments and implications for physical therapy. Brazilian journal of physical therapy, 25(2), 135–146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjpt.2020.08.004

  3. Hsu H, Siwiec RM. Knee Osteoarthritis. [Updated 2023 Jun 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507884/

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