The most common form of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that is typically caused by the normal wear of the joint over time. It is distinguished by a ongoing erosion of the cartilage, which eventually leaves bone exposed in the joint.
For the most part, osteoarthritis of the knee afflicts people 50 years of age and older. Studied suggest there is a genetic component to the condition but it can also be exacerbated in people who are overweight. It can also be caused by trauma such as sports injury.
Once osteoarthritis of the knee develops, it tends to worsen over time, although it’s not always a steady progression. People have reported that they will go extended periods of time with few symptoms then suddenly find themselves experiencing an array of symptom including sharp pain, stiffness, edema, tenderness, joint weakness, and limited motion.
The idea of exercising a sore knee is not very appealing but it’s extremely important to keep the muscles and ligaments around the knee strong to better support the joint. One popular activity is bike riding. In addition to helping your knee, you get fresh air and a nice cardio workout. Plus, it can help you lose a few pounds and maintaining proper weight can greatly improve your condition.
You can also opt for an indoor stationary bike if the weather is cold or inclement. If you are just beginning an exercise program, start lightly, riding for just 10 or 15 minutes and gradually increasing your time as you feel able to.
It is also important to incorporate range of motion exercises, which are designed to improve flexibility. One example is the hamstring stretch. First, take a brief, five minute walk to warm up the muscles. Then bracing yourself against a wall, bend one leg back, grasp your foot, and gently pull the leg up. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds then stretch the other leg.
Squats can also help keep your knees limber. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes turned very slightly out. Slowly bend your knees, reaching out as if you were sitting in a chair. If possible, squat down so your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise back up. Do 8 to 10 repetitions. If you cannot squat all the way down, just go as far as you can without pain.
While biking and walking are good ways to strengthen the knee, avoid jogging outside or on a treadmill until you feel your knees have sufficiently strengthened. The stress of running on joints with weakened muscles and ligaments can make the arthritis worth.