LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS

Weight reduction and activity modification are two lifestyle changes that people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee can make, to help relieve their symptoms and improve their overall functioning.

Weight Reduction

Studies have shown that weight loss can actually help prevent osteoarthritis of the knee. Extra weight puts extra stress on weight bearing joints. For individuals with known osteoarthritis of the knee, maintaining or attaining a recommended weight can help reduce pain by reducing the amount of stress that is placed on the knee joint. It is not yet clear if weight loss can actually slow the progression of this disease.

If a weight loss program is being considered, it is important to discuss the program with a physician and/or a dietician. These health care professionals will be able to provide guidance and assistance in developing an appropriate weight loss program and setting realistic goals for weight loss. Losing weight and maintaining weight loss can be difficult under the best of circumstances. People with osteoarthritis of the knee may find it even harder since their symptoms often limit the amount and type of exercise in which they can participate. Organized weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers© may be helpful for some.

Activity Modification

Unfortunately, the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee may prevent some people from participating in activities they once enjoyed. Often, people believe that by decreasing their level of physical activity, they will experience less pain and inflammation. While this is true in the short term, it is also important to recognize that decreased activity has negative consequences. These include weight gain, decreased general fitness, and progressive quadriceps muscle weakness.

Over a longer term, most people with osteoarthritis of the knee will benefit from an appropriate exercise program. People report a decrease in their symptoms; increased functioning and they also report feeling better overall. For some people, an appropriate and consistent exercise program can actually decrease or eliminate the need to take medications. It is also important for people to maintain or increase their level of activity relative to their baseline level of fitness. The key is to achieve a balance between the desired effects of fitness and the unwanted effects of too much exercise (pain and inflammation).

The goals of an exercise program include improving leg strength, muscle flexibility, joint mobility, and overall cardiovascular fitness. The best exercises for people with osteoarthritis of the knee are those that minimize impact on the knee. Swimming, cycling, water running and aquacize are all good examples. "High impact" activities such as running and jumping should be avoided as they may accelerate the progression of the osteoarthritis. Finally, a physician or physical therapist should be consulted prior to starting any exercise program.

To read more about osteoarthritis of the knee please visit the links section. Links have been provided to other websites as well as online medical journals. Knee injury topics can also be accessed.

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