Fighting Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

With the cold weather in full swing, many patients are dealing with the problematic effects of knee osteoarthritis (OA). Knee OA can cause such pain that it sidelines patients from performing their activities of daily living (ADLs). However, remaining inactive is the opposite of what you want to do if you have OA.

Knee OA is the wearing down of the cartilage in the knees that results, over time, in the direct contact of bone on bone. It is this direct contact of bone on bone that causes a grinding of bone and results in the pain that you feel. Instinctively, patients try to avoid aggravating the pain by remaining inactive and relaxing until the pain decreased. However, keeping active with regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint and decreased pain in the long term.

There are several things that patients can do to combat knee OA pain. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aspirin, as well as thermal agents, such as ice and hot packs, can help relieve OA pain in the short term.  For long-term relief, patients should consider more permanent changes. Decreasing the load on the joint by losing weight is one of the most helpful changes. Another very helpful change is participating in a daily strengthening and stretching routine, especially with the help of a physical therapist. With the muscles strong and lengthened, the joint will not have to rely on the bones for stability; rather it will place the stress on the muscles.

Overall, remaining active is the most important way to decrease knee OA pain. It may feel like resting to avoid the pain makes the most sense, but decreased activity will lead to decreased strength and mobility in the long term. Stopping movement will only restrict your ability to function normally and increase your impairment. With the use of a physical therapist providing you with a monitored strengthening and stretching routine, you can finally relieve the pain you feel from your knee OA.