What is osteoarthritis?
The term osteoarthritis (joint wear and tear) is used to describe one of the most common diseases of the skeletal and locomotor system. Osteoarthritis, or joint wear and tear of the knee, is a painful, non-inflammatory, irreversible degenerative condition of the knee joint caused by erosion of the articular cartilage.
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Causes of osteoarthritis of the knee
- Trauma during sports and recreational activities
- Overloading by heavy physical labor
- A congenital deformity of the joints
- Metabolic disorders
- Being overweight or genetic predisposition
Symptoms and warning signals of OA
Joint pain can be the first sign of osteoarthritis. It is usually aggravated by cold, damp weather or loading the joint. Abrupt movements or even extended periods of sitting or standing can feel particularly unpleasant. If you have pain in these situations, this could be a sign of wear and tear of your joints, and possibly osteoarthritis.
Doctors call these initial symptoms “start-up pain,” “pain on-loading,” or “fatigue pain.” No matter what symptoms you may have, talk to your doctor about it.
Besides exercise, physical therapy and medication, functional treatment is an important element of success: orthoses relieve stress on the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis patients should feel free to move around – cycling, swimming and walking are all recommended. The diseased joint still produces nutrients and lubricants during moderate sporting activity. It does not become so easily inflamed. In addition to bracing, a reduction in body weight, exercise and a balanced diet can all help in treating or reducing the effects of osteoarthritis.
This reduces the risk of further joint conditions. You should aim for a BMI (BMI = body mass index) of < 30.
Effective pain relief means improved compliance and outcomes
Studies show that knee braces are effective in decreasing pain, joint stiffness, and drug dosage while improving physical function.
Tips for people with osteoarthritis of the knee
Although the following tips have been compiled for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, they are also helpful for those with other forms of osteoarthritis
Supporting yourself on a stick can relieve up to 30% of the load on the knee joint. You should always use the stick on your healthy side.
Treat yourself to regular rests sitting down; i.e. after you have been standing for an hour or so, you should have a break and sit down for five to ten minutes.
Wear shoes that give you a good grip. Closed shoes are better than open shoes or sandals. Lower heels are better for the knee joint. You should also make sure that the soles and heels of your shoes are not worn down completely or on one side.
Straighten your leg whenever possible while sitting. This stops the kneecap pressing down too hard on the condyles in the knee.
Don’t carry heavy bags, boxes, crates of drinks, etc. The weight doesn’t just weigh heavily on your torso, but your legs have to carry it, too.
Walk slowly up and down stairs. Put as much of your weight as possible on the banister.
Suitable sports for patient with osteoarthritis of the knee
Bicycle training is a particularly suitable form of sport for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee because the knee joint is subject to even movements without having to bear the body’s weight. Select the lowest possible gear to take as much stress off the knee as possible. Set the bike up, so that you can just stand on the pedal with your heel.
Power walking is the alternative to jogging for people with osteoarthritis of the knee because the stresses on the joints are lower (jogging: 2.5 to 3 times body weight, power walking 1.0 to 1.5 times body weight). It is important to wear shoes that offer enough support and have above-average damping properties. Forest floors, farm tracks or sandy pathways are more suitable than asphalt surfaces.
Exercises in water are particularly recommended for patients with osteoarthritis because the buoyancy of the water considerably reduces stresses on the joint. A higher water temperature is best. If you wear a buoyancy jacket, aqua-jogging is also a possible physical exercise for patients with osteoarthritis. The buoyancy of the water completely relieves all weight on the joints and muscles. Aqua-jogging also has positive effects on the cardiovascular system and our metabolism.
Like aqua-jogging, swimming is very suitable for patients with osteoarthritis due to the buoyancy of the water. The crawl is the most recommended swimming style for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The movement of the leg muscles during the crawl is more suitable for building up muscles than with the breaststroke due to the scissor movement. A higher water temperature is also recommended for swimming.
Orthoses prevent one-sided stresses due to deformities. At the same time, supports can improve so-called proprioception, i.e. perception of your own body in space. They reduce the risk of injury, protect the joint and slow down cartilage degeneration.
Treatment with supports or orthoses should be given in combination with other treatment options. For example, physical treatment with physiotherapy and massage plays a central role. Both promote the mobility of and blood circulation in the affected joints.