In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Have Knee Osteoarthritis? Start Moving!

Knee pain

Many people suffer from chronic pain due to knee osteoarthritis. For most of them, exercising is one of the last things they want to engage in. The thought of moving around to exercise creates fear that it will create more pain, or even further damage the knee cartilage. But the opposite is actually the truth, and new research has come out that supports the fact that to help reduce chronic pain from knee osteoarthritis, it’s good to get moving.

In the December 2021 issue of the journal Frontiers in Physiology, researchers shared their findings regarding the benefits and mechanisms of exercise training for those who have knee osteoarthritis [1]. They explain that the condition is a chronic degenerative disease that involves such contributing factors as mechanical overload and inflammation, among other factors.

Putting experimental animals to the test, they set out to see if using exercise training as a complementary treatment would be beneficial for those with knee osteoarthritis. The motivation behind this route is to help reduce the use of pharmacological options, which have side effects, and surgery is for those who are at an end-stage point.

What the researchers found can be helpful to those who suffer from the condition, and it’s something that is affordable. Engaging in regular exercise training helps the condition in a number of ways. Used as complementary and adjunctive physiotherapy, exercising helps reduce inflammation, prevent loss of bone, help prevent cartilage from degenerating, and more. It also helps to reduce pain, stiffness, joint dysfunction, and muscle weakness.

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Those who want to give it a try may like the fact that there are a lot of options to choose from. Exercise training can include aerobic exercise, strength training, balance training, aquatic exercises, traditional exercises, neuromuscular exercise, and proprioceptive training. This opens up many options, including walking, jogging, cycling, skating, aerobics, ball games, water aerobics, tai chi, yoga, and many more.

Those who have chronic pain from knee osteoarthritis who want to give exercise training a start can begin small. Find one or two types of activities that you enjoy and start doing them for 15-20 minutes per day, and work your way up as you begin feeling more comfortable. Aim for engaging in exercise training for at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.

Check with your local parks and recreation department, as well as your senior centers, for any group exercise activities they may offer. These will give people a chance to be in a setting that is motivating and fun as they get their exercise training done.

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  1. Frontiers in Physiology. Benefits and Mechanisms of Exercise Training for Knee Osteoarthritis. December 2021.

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

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