Knee osteoarthritis treatment | 3 exercises to postpone surgery

Knee osteoarthritis is caused by the disappearance of the cartilage in the knee. This can lead to knee pain but doesn’t always.

That’s because the pain of a worn knee can be reduced by doing the right knee exercises, along with the right lifestyle changes.

This allows you to postpone a new knee operation for a few years yourself.

This article will explain exactly what causes knee osteoarthritis and how you can prevent it. I describe the symptoms of a worn knee and what exercises you can do to reduce your pain. This means that you can often postpone an operation for several years.

One of the things you can do right away is to wear a knee brace. A knee brace reduces the pressure on your knee joint so that you will immediately experience fewer knee complaints. This allows you to move more, making your knee stronger and further reducing pain.

Read on to find out what else is possible:

knee brace

What is Knee osteoarthritis?

By knee osteoarthritis, we mean a knee in which the cartilage has decreased, causing knee complaints. It is also called a worn-out knee and can occur in various places in the knee. In the knee, we speak of gonarthrosis after the Latin name for the knee: articulatio genus.

The most commonplace for knee osteoarthritis is the inside of the knee. Due to the shape of the knee joint, the greatest forces are exerted on the inside. This ensures that the cartilage disappears faster here than on the outside of the knee.

There is also cartilage under the kneecap, which can slowly disappear. We then speak of patellofemoral arthrosis. Patella is the Latin word for kneecap, and the femur is that for the thigh bone.

Cartilage wear and tear is a natural process and happens to everyone. However, it goes faster with some than with others. There are several reasons for this.

knie artrose

What causes knee osteoarthritis?

There are several known causes for knee osteoarthritis. The main cause is long-term overload.

Overloading the knee can be the result of activities that put a lot of pressure on the knees. Sitting on your knees a lot, in particular, contributes to this.

Obesity is another form of cartilage overload that can cause knee osteoarthritis. When walking, the load on your knee is 2-3 times your body weight. When you weigh 100 kg, this means that with every step, your knee has to endure 200-300 kg. You can understand that this does something to the cartilage.

Also, too much belly fat causes a decrease in cartilage. Fat mass is susceptible to inflammation, which also affects cartilage. As a result, it disappears faster than in slim people, and the risk of knee osteoarthritis is greater.

Reduced muscle strength and fitness also ensures that you get knee pain faster. Strong thigh muscles reduce the load on your knee, making the cartilage less irritated. This ensures that it disappears less quickly and that you will suffer less from your knee when cartilage decreases.

Finally, heredity and previous knee surgery play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. Meniscal surgery is known to cause long-term knee wear because the meniscus no longer protects the cartilage.

Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis

Several symptoms can indicate knee osteoarthritis.

  • Morning stiffness
  • Widening of the joint
  • Swelling of the knee joint
  • Cracking or crackling of the knee
  • Reduced ability to bend the knee

A decrease in cartilage causes the stiffness of the knee joint. As a result, the bones slide less well over each other, moving to feel stiffer.

Most stiffness is experienced in the morning. This is because the knee is not loaded, which means there is less synovial fluid in the knee. This synovial fluid helps lubricate the knee. The more you move your knee, the more it recovers, and the knee becomes smoother.

Knee joint swelling is a symptom caused by irritation of the cartilage and joint capsule. As a result, there is swelling in the knee and bone growth, giving the knee a strange shape. The cracking occurs because the cartilage that is still present can slide and move more.

A worn-out knee’s symptoms should correspond to the amount of wear and tear shown on the X-ray. If there is wear in the photo but not the above symptoms, the wear is probably not the cause of your knee pain. If there are complaints but no osteoarthritis in the photo, wear is not the cause.

A photo does not say everything. Therefore, do not be too quick with knee replacement surgery because this is an operation that can often be postponed for a while with the right exercises and lifestyle adjustments.

Knee osteoarthritis treatment with 3 exercises

To successfully treat the pain of a worn knee, it is important to improve the knee’s strength, mobility, and stability.

Lifestyle factors also play a major role. If you manage to lose 10 or maybe 20 kg, this will greatly reduce the knee’s pain.

Also, losing weight ensures that the amount of belly fat decreases and the osteoarthritis process will decrease. This makes the cartilage calmer and will cause less pain.

Cycling is a good exercise in knee osteoarthritis to lubricate the knee joint. The movements during cycling stimulate the production of synovial fluid in the knee. This will lubricate the knee, making it smoother and making it less stiff and painful. An exercise bike is ideal for this because you can adjust the resistance and height, and you do not have to get on and off every time.

Also, you can wear a knee brace to reduce pressure on your knee joint. The brace absorbs the forces on your knee so that it will hurt less. This also helps you to exercise more.

All these adjustments together will reduce your knee pain and reduce knee osteoarthritis. As a result, you can often postpone an operation for several years.

knee osteoarthritis Exercise 1: Improving the mobility of the knee

The first exercise is designed to improve the mobility of the knee. Mobilizing, the knee joint puts less strain on the cartilage, which reduces pain.

This also greatly affects patellofemoral osteoarthritis because the exercise makes your kneecap move better over your knee joint. By improving the knee’s mobility, you can walk better and more so that your knee pain decreases even further.

The exercise goes as follows:

  • Sit in a chair with your healthy leg crossed in front of your aching leg
  • Move your healthy leg backward, slowly bending your aching leg
  • Bend the knee as far as it will go
  • Hold for 20 seconds
  • Repeat this 3 times

You can also find the execution of the exercise in the video below:

Do exercise several times a day. The bending may hurt because you don’t load your knee during the exercise. This way you don’t cause damage to your knee.

knee osteoarthritis exercise 2: Strengthening Your Thigh Muscles

The second exercise is to improve the strength of your thigh muscles. When your thigh muscles get stronger, the force acting on your knee decreases. Your thigh muscles relieve pressure on your knee.

Your thigh muscles also ensure that your kneecap moves well over your knee while bending and extending your knee. Because of this, this exercise works well for both gonarthrosis and patellofemoral osteoarthritis.

The exercise goes as follows:

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight
  • Pull your toes towards you and lift your leg straight
  • Repeat this 10 times
  • Do this 3 times for both legs

You can also find the execution of the exercise in the video below:

Because you have no pressure on your knee during the exercise, this exercise ensures that you can strengthen your thigh muscles without increasing your knee complaints. You can then expand the number of repetitions to 3×20 repetitions.

When the pain in your knee decreases, you can also start doing squats and lunges. In the beginning, these exercises are often too heavy because they cause direct pressure on your knee and can worsen your complaints. Repeat the exercise twice a day.

knee osteoarthritis exercise 3: Improving knee stability

The third exercise for a worn-out knee is to improve the stability of the knee. This exercise is also very suitable for meniscus complaints or other forms of knee pain.

Because the shape of your knee changes and the muscles become stronger, they also have to learn to work better together. The better your knees work together, the better they can support your knee.

You can train the stability of your knee in the following way:

  • Stand on 1 leg
  • Slightly bend the leg you are standing on
  • Try to keep this up for as long as possible without holding on
  • Repeat this several times

You can also find the execution of the exercise in the following video:

Do the exercise a few times a day. You can do it while brushing your teeth, cooking, or watching television. To make the exercise even more difficult, you can close your eyes. As a result, you have less control of your eyes, so that the stability is completely on your muscles.

Conclusion

By doing these exercises regularly you can often postpone surgery for knee osteoarthritis for a number of years and even prevent it if you act early. Along with losing weight, this is the most important non-surgical treatment for a worn knee. If you do not succeed with the exercises or if you have any questions, you can always email me and I will try to help you as much as possible.