Osteoarthritis of the Knee

shutterstock_94626562 copyOsteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is a painful condition that can affect any joint in the body.  Osteoarthritis is the “wear and tear” type of arthritis that happens over time and can be worsened by prior injuries.

Generally the pain associated with arthritis develops gradually, although sudden onset is also possible.  The joint may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to walk, bend or straighten your knee.  The pain may often cause a feeling of weakness in the knee, resulting in a “locking” or “buckling” activity.

Diagnosis

The pain from osteoarthritis can be severe and is often associated with stiffness, aches, and swelling. Dr. Hecht will perform a thorough examination to evaluate and determine the extent of your injuries and conduct a complete review of your medical history. He may also choose to utilize diagnostic tools such as an MRI, X-ray or CT scan to confirm the extent of your condition.

Treatment

Depending on the extent of your condition, Dr. Hecht may utilize conservative treatments options, such as lifestyle modification (weight loss exercises, swimming or cycling exercises).  Some patients also find benefit from minimizing those activities which aggravate their conditions–such as climbing stairs. Furthermore, Dr. Hecht may recommend exercise to increase your range of motion, supportive devices (such as a cane, orthotics, or braces), anti-inflammatory drug therapies or viscosupplementation which provides new joint fluid to the knee joint.

Tips for Healthy Joints

  • One of the best ways to avoid or reduce joint discomfort is to lose excess body weight. Less weight equals less stress on your joints.
  • Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin C and calcium. Vitamin C is necessary to for the formation of collagen that supports joint tissue. Calcium helps build strong bones, which reduces stress on joints.
  • Stretching and strengthening activities can help maintain your range of motion, build muscle and promote flexibility. Some activities to consider include gardening, walking, bicycling and swimming. Talk with your physician about which exercises are right for you.
  • Keep moving. Sitting or standing all day can cause joint stiffness. When possible, alternate between these two positions, ideally every 30 minutes.
  • Remember to warm up and cool down every time you exercise to prevent injury and promote flexibility.
  • Exercise in groups. It’s motivating, it’s social, and it builds self-esteem as you accomplish your goals together.

If you’re having a hard time staying motivated to exercise regularly, consider adding music to your routine. Purchase a portable music player and bring along the tunes while you walk, jog, etc.