Knee osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis in the knee, is a chronic condition that usually affects people over the age of 50 years, but it could be observed in younger people as well. It is characterized by a deterioration of the cartilage present in the knee joints leading to severe pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling in the joint. Though in extreme cases, a surgery is advised by doctors to treat the condition, there are other ways through which you can achieve relief from the chronic pain.
Here are the primary non-surgical treatment options that can be explored for knee osteoarthritis.
Introducing changes in one’s lifestyle, such as exercise is a good option. Active people, who are involved in high-impact exercise regimes such as running, jumping, Zumba, etc., should switch to low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, and stationary cycling. On the other hand, inactive people should introduce low-impact exercises into their routine in order to maximize knee function and mobility, improve flexibility and increase the range of motion in the knee joint.
Other options include strength training to improve the strength of the leg muscles. In some cases, even reducing the number of times one climbs the stairs can help ease the pain and stiffness.
Extra weight means extra pressure on the knees. If one is overweight, then he/she should work hard to lose weight immediately to ease the stress exerted on the knees. An ideal body structure should have a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5-25.
According to the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI), when losing weight for the benefit of the knees is the target, one should aim to lose 5 percent of the total body weight in 20 weeks. This is considered to be the most effective way to manage weight.
Applying hot and cold packs to the inflamed joint can help ease the pain and stiffness of the joint. Hot water bottles, hot packs, hot baths and warm towels can be used to apply heat, whereas cold packs and ice cubes or frozen vegetables wrapped in towels can be used to numb the area to help ease the pain in the affected joint.
Devices that provide physical support can help reduce the stress on the knees, thus alleviating symptoms. Some of the most commonly used osteoarthritis devices include knee braces, knee sleeves and shoe inserts. The physician recommends which assistive device to use after studying the condition of his/her patient.
Alternative or complementary therapies like acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, massages and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are good alternatives that can provide relief from knee pain.
Injections with hormones and supplements may also help reduce the inflammation in the knee joint, thereby providing temporary relief from this ailment.
Whatever your condition, work proactively with your doctor to develop the right treatment plan in order to help alleviate the pain and manage the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.