Arthritis restricts one’s daily movement and can occasionally cause debilitating pain. The swelling and the stiffness of joints are common in people who suffer from arthritis. Unfortunately, there is no cure to this condition and the best way to manage any kind of arthritis is making a few lifestyle changes like losing weight, eating healthy, staying active and using heating pads or ice packs during episodes of pain. (Also read: Walnuts to peas; eat these foods to keep arthritis at bay)
Knee arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis and apart from family history and bone abnormalities, it can at times be triggered by injuries that cause trauma to the knee joint. With age, it is common to get knee osteoarthritis where the cartilage around the knee bones wears off causing the bones to rub against each other and causing pain and inflammation.
“Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the most typical symptoms of arthritis, which can affect any joint in the body but is most frequent in the knee. Genes, bone abnormalities, aging, injuries, etc. are a few unavoidable causes of knee arthritis. While there is no way to avoid knee arthritis completely, there are steps you can do to alleviate symptoms and possibly reduce the disease’s progression,” says Dr Vinay Kumaraswamy, Consultant – Orthopedics & Joint Replacement Surgery, Fortis Hospitals, Rajajinagar, Bangalore.
Here are some lifestyle changes suggested by Dr Kumaraswamy to manage knee arthritis
1. Maintain a healthy weight
People with high body weight are up to 4.55 times more likely than those with a moderate weight to develop knee osteoarthritis. Diet and exercise can help one lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Exercising relieves a load of excess weight on your joints while also strengthening the muscles that surround them, helping stabilize and protect from damage. Indulge in activities that are ideal for your fitness level. If you’ve never exercised before, begin slowly and gradually increase the intensity until you’re ready.
3. Protect yourself from harm
Your joints may begin to wear down naturally over time. When you injure your joints, such as while playing sports or in an accident, you risk damaging the cartilage and causing it to deteriorate. Take adequate rest when you are injured.
4. Take care of your joints
Joint difficulties may develop because of heavy lifting, squatting, and stair climbing. Lifting can be particularly taxing on the joints. People who regularly move heavy objects and squat, kneel or climb stairs are more than five times more likely to develop knee OA.
5. Give up smoking
Quitting smoking not only reduces the risk of heart and lung illness but also protects against arthritis.
6. Control blood sugar levels
Arthritis and diabetes have a symbiotic relationship. Diabetes is 61 per cent more likely in people who have arthritis, one reason being elevated blood sugar levels causes the body to be in a continual state of low-grade inflammation, and the development of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the joints, triggering the production of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines.
How to stop arthritis from worsening
* Do low-impact activities like swimming, cycling instead of high-impact activities like jogging and tennis. Exercise for 150 minutes per week.
* Heat or ice application to the affected area.
* Physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
* Assistive devices such as a cane, shock-absorbing shoes, knee braces, or sleeve
* Medicines: Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are useful in early arthritis
What to do in case of advanced knee arthritis
“Medicines and physiotherapy are not useful in advanced arthritis. These patients need to undergo joint replacement operations for complete recovery. Joint replacement surgery – commonly used terms are total knee replacement or total hip replacement – is a well-established surgery with predictable results. With fast track replacement surgeries patients are made to walk the very same day of the surgery and they can walk without a walker in a few weeks. With advanced surgical and anesthesia techniques, complications in such surgeries are minimal,” says Dr Kumaraswamy.