Osteoarthritis is very prevalent, affecting 7% of the global population, more than 500 million people worldwide, according to GBD (Global Burden of Disease Study) 2019. It is a progressive degenerative disease that affects the joint cartilage and nearby soft tissue. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, decreasing the space between the joint. This leads to bones rubbing together, and causing pain and stiffness. It is common in people over 45 years of age and is more prevalent in women. Risk factors for developing osteoarthritis of the knee are obesity or overweight, previous injury to the knee joint, and heredity. The symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are joint pain that worsens with activity, stiffness, knee joint swelling, crepitus, decreased range of motion of the knee, weakness of quads, hams, and altered proprioception.
Osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and hand is common. Osteoarthritis can be mild, moderate, and advanced/severe depending upon the symptoms. There is usually a delay on the part of the patient from the appearance of first symptoms to seeking care which affects the overall recovery and extent of damage to the knee joint. Knee osteoarthritis impacts mobility and hence the activities of daily living like walking and climbing stairs.
Heat therapy, Joint protection strategies, NSAIDs, and Joint stabilization exercises go a long way in managing osteoarthritis pain. Moist heat help muscles relax and ease the pain. Regular exercise and strength training helps with joint stability. Braces, knee supports, or shoe inserts may be used to relieve the stress on the knee joint. In advanced cases of knee osteoarthritis, a cane can be used in the hand opposite the leg that hurts. Cane takes the weight off your knee or hip as you walk.
Exercises for knee Osteoarthritis–
- Quads sets-Lie on your back and place a small towel roll under your knee. Straighten your knee by tightening your thigh muscles. Press the back of your knee into the towel and hold for 5 -10 seconds. Repeat ten times on each side.
- Short arc extensions-Lie on your back with a towel roll or bolster pillow under your knee. Tighten your quads and lift your heel off the ground. Hold for 10seconds and return to starting position. Repeat ten times on each side.
- Hamstring stretch-Lie on the floor with both legs bent. Lift one leg off of the floor, and bring the knee toward your chest. Clasp your hands behind your thigh and straighten your leg with your foot towards the ceiling until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
- Quads Stretch– Hold on to the back of a chair or a wall for balance. Bend your knee and bring your heel up toward your buttock. Grasp your ankle with your hand and gently pull your heel closer to your body. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
- Straight leg raises with leg externally rotated– Lie down on your back with one leg bent and another leg straight. Roll out your straightened leg externally such that your toes are pointing outward. From this position, lift your leg to the height of the other bent knee, hold for 10 seconds and slowly return. Repeat ten times on each side. This exercise can be done using weight cuffs tied around your ankle.
- Seated knee extensions with weight cuffs– Sit in a chair with the knees bent, feet dangling above the ground. Tie weight cuffs around your ankles. Lift the lower leg until its parallel to the floor, do not lock your knee. Hold for ten seconds and return to starting position. Repeat ten times on each side.
- Side leg raises-Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your waist. Lift your right leg out toward the side, hold for ten seconds and return to starting position. Do ten repetitions on each side in a slow and controlled manner.
- Prone hip extension with weight cuffs– Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and weight cuffs tied around your ankle. You can rest your head on your arms. Lift one leg a few inches off the floor, keep the leg straight. Hold for five seconds and slowly bring your leg down. Repeat ten times on each side.
- Wall Squats– Stand with your back against the wall and feet shoulder-width apart and about 2 feet from the wall. Bend your knees, and slowly lower yourself into a sitting position until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds. Slide slowly back up the wall to a standing position and repeat five times.
- Sit To Stand-Sit in a chair with a firm seat. Stand slowly without using your hands for support. Lean forward over your toes, lift your buttocks and stand up. Then sit back down slowly, repeat 5-10 times.
- Hamstring Curls-Stand straight with the knees only 1–2 inches apart. Hold on to the back of a chair for balance. Bend the knee to 90 degrees behind the body by lifting the foot off the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Slowly lower your leg and repeat ten times on each side.
- Step ups-Use a stool or platform at least 6″ in height. Step up with your right foot followed by left foot but let the left foot hanging. Keep the body weight on the right foot, and hold this position for 5 seconds. Then bring your left foot down followed by the right foot. Repeat ten times and switch to another leg.
Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on the joint. Be active and mobile, keep doing walking, cycling and exercises, when not in pain. Do the correct form of exercise.