It is always better to prevent osteoarthritis in the knee rather than try to fix it after it happens, however that is not always possible. There are a number of things you can do to keep your knee and leg healthy and at least reduce the risk or severity of further damage.
To stabilize your knee joint and increase your range of motion, maintain and build the strength and flexibility of your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf and hip flexor muscles. Strengthening exercises will help to keep your knee strong which in turn, will help prevent further injury. Leg lifts with light weight or exercise bands are very beneficial and knee, hip and calf stretching exercises will help to keep your leg muscles and joints supple. A couple examples of good stretching options and/or disciplines are yoga or tai chi. Proprioceptive (balancing) exercises will also help to retrain your position or "joint sense".
Although the pain of osteoarthritis can make you reluctant to use your knees, keeping them active is recommended when pain levels are tolerable. Avoid staying still or keeping your joints in the same position for too long, to prevent stiffening up from the osteoarthritis. For cartilage to remain healthy, it must be subjected to weight-bearing exercises.
Therefore, a regular exercise program that focuses on total body fitness and includes low-impact aerobic activity at least 3 days per week, such as walking, swimming or biking will help to keep you healthy overall and will strengthen your knee. The Archives of Internal Medicine [2001;161(19): 2309-2316] noted that participation in moderate physical activity 3 times per week can reduce your risk of arthritis-related disability by 47% .
Making wise eating choices and participating in some form of exercise to maintain your body weight is very important, as extra pounds will put extra pressure on your joints. Therefore stick to a well-balanced diet comprised with lots of protein, calcium, carbohydrates, essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, drink lots of water, and minimize your intake of processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Vitamins and/or natural supplements have also been known to aid your aching joints and rebuild cartilage. An article published by Arthritis & Rheumatism in 1998 noted that, by losing as little as 11 pounds you can reduce your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50%.
If you are living a healthy lifestyle, you will tend to have a healthy mindset, and will be much more equipped to deal with stress and manage your emotional health. You will be able to deal with the fatigue, frustration and depression that often accompany a disability due to arthritis of the knee.
Using appropriate equipment for your body type and size can help to alleviate the load on your joints and relieve pain while reducing further damage. Some suggested equipment includes:
Ease into activities slowly to give your body an opportunity to build up its endurance, and to protect your joints from injury and overuse. Gradually increase your participation to prevent overstraining your muscles and joints. Always warm up and cool down your leg muscles before and after working them, and learn the proper form and techniques for your activity.
If you are suffering from knee arthritis pain, listen to your body and decrease, modify and/or avoid any activities or motions that cause pain and irritation (twisting, squatting, kneeling, heavy lifting, climbing and running, walking on uneven terrain). Try to walk on softer surfaces such as cinder or grass, rather than pavement if going long distances. If you are required to perform these motions at work or play and cannot avoid them, make sure you take frequent breaks and rest your knee to prevent fatigue and pain. It is important not to rush your recovery following knee trauma or surgery to prevent further damage.
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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort at the location of your soft tissue injury until the pain and inflammation settle. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before using any of our outstanding products to make sure they are right for you and your condition or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition. Always see your doctor for a proper diagnosis as there are often many injuries and conditions (some very serious) that could be the cause of your pain.
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