Dr. Ryan Geringer
A study published this year shows that the best treatment for knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is not to sit on the couch like you want to. Instead, it demonstrates the importance of movement when dealing with the chronic pain and swelling associated with OA.
Researchers worked with 195 people with KOA for two years. The patients were instructed on how to increase their physical activity and were given sample exercises to complete. At the beginning and at the end of the two years, the patients rated their overall pain and completed the TUG test.
Up and Go!
What is the TUG test? TUG stands for Timed Up & Go (TUG) and it’s used to measure a person’s functional ability and basic mobility skills. In the test, subjects are measured by the time it takes to rise from sitting from a standard arm chair, walk 3 meters, turn, walk back to the chair, and sit down. The less time it takes to do this the better.
In the study, people who practiced intense physical activity for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) a week showed two improvements. One was less pain and the other was that they were able to complete the TUG test 4 seconds faster than those who remained sedentary.
It was also shown that a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for functional decline. Studies explain that knee osteoarthritis worsens with time, but can be slowed with vigorous exercise. It’s a case of “use it or lose it.”
The great thing about this study is that it shows that a variety of physical activity can help. Exercises ranging from weightlifting to swimming to yoga were all effective. It’s just important to push yourself a little.
To find some recommended knee specific exercises click here and scroll to videos.
Knee Strength-Resistance Bands
Intense physical activity may not immediately feel great. To relieve discomfort you can wear a compression sleeve over your knee. You can also treat your knee with ice or a Freeze Sleeve either before or after exercise. Using cold therapy prior to activity has a preventative effect on pain. During your exercise, you may also want to wear a knee brace for additional support and proper alignment.
It’s also important to do this vigorous activity under the eye of a physician or physical therapist. They can help guide you to the best exercises for you and let you know when you should increase the intensity.
It seems so counterintuitive but moving through pain works. With the right support and exercise plan, you can experience a wonderful increase in your quality of life. So, no excuses! Get up and go!