Do you have knee arthritis? If so, you're in good company. The knee is a very complex joint that is subjected to a great deal of stress every day. These factors contribute to the very common nature of knee problems, which affect more than 6 million people over the age of 62 and another 5 million between the ages of 40 and 62. Among the most common problems is arthritis, with the knee being the most frequently affected joint. Educating yourself can help you manage the impact of knee arthritis. So what do you need to know?
Factors That Aid in Controlling Pain and Slowing Arthritis Progression
If you have been diagnosed with knee arthritis, the first thing you need to know is that being proactive about managing your symptoms can help reduce daily pain and stiffness as well as slow the rate at which your arthritic joint deteriorates. Second only to following your doctor's medication and treatment advice in terms of effective arthritis management, as counterintuitive as it may sound, is regular, joint-friendly exercise.
Routine low-impact exercise helps reduce pain and stiffness and maintain or increase joint stability, flexibility, and function, chiefly by strengthening the network of muscles that support the knee joint, which aids in keeping it properly aligned and absorbs some of the shock the knee is subjected to as one of the body's hardest working weight bearing joints. Seeing a physical therapist to learn safe, effective exercise techniques can be of great benefit in preventing the condition from affecting your quality-of-life. If joint function has already been significantly reduced, talk to your doctor about whether a short term rehabilitation program may help recondition the knee and improve joint function.
Another important thing you can do to help manage pain and slow arthritis progression is to take off any extra weight you're carrying. Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can make a big difference in terms of daily wear-and-tear damage to your arthritic knee. Learning good body mechanics and sitting and standing with attention to good posture can also make a difference in the amount of pressure placed on your knee.
What You Need to Know About Knee Surgery
If pain and joint degeneration become severe enough to interfere with daily activities, mobility, and quality of life, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment for your arthritic knee. Among the possibilities are arthroscopy, in which doctors use small incisions and instruments to repair joint problems; cartilage grafting, which can be used to repair small areas of cartilage damage; synovectomy, which removes damaged joint linings; and osteotomy, which reshapes bones to relieve joint pressure. If your doctor feels that these methods of knee repair aren't likely to offer relief in your particular case, joint replacement surgery may be recommended. The vast majority of patients who take this step are pleased with the results, experiencing substantial reductions in chronic pain and significant improvements in joint function and mobility.
Important things to know about joint replacement is that it is a major surgery, and recovery will be challenging and can take as long as 6 months to a year. Rehabilitation of the knee will be necessary after surgery, which will be hard, painful work. You can move the rehabilitation process along a bit by using inpatient short term rehabilitation therapy. Short term rehabilitation programs offer intense, tightly-coordinated and comprehensive rehabilitative care that facilitates faster, more complete recoveries and better rehabilitation results than outpatient or home-based therapy, which means it will help you regain more mobility and do it faster, getting you out of treatment and back to your life.