Are your hinges loose? Do you need to tighten the screws? This is the analogy I like to give when explaining the rehabilitation theory behind osteoarthritis of the knee.
The “hinge” is your osteoarthritis joint, in this example, the knee. The screws are your muscles. As your arthritis progresses you may experience pain, swelling, “catching”, “giving way or collapsing”, reduced function or stiffness in the knee. You may even start to limp and no longer weight bear fully on the sore knee. As a result of this altered gait, your knee muscles start to become weakened (loose screws), creating even more instability around the knee (hinge).
By now you may have noticed that you are having difficulties with your day-to-day activities such as walking, grocery shopping, stair-climbing, housekeeping, golf, even playing with the children or grandchildren.
While most patients understand the effectiveness of exercise for high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease and diabetes, it is not so widely appreciated that exercise can be helpful in managing osteoarthritis.
Unfortunately many patients with osteoarthritis have the mistaken belief that exercises will make their arthritis worse. Exercise plays an important role in managing symptoms in those with osteoarthritis.
Strengthening of the muscles (screws) that surround the knee is often helpful in stabilising the joint (hinge) and allowing you to regain strength, function, balance, reduce swelling and pain, and optimize participation in social events, household activities, and quality of life.
Types of exercises don’t have to be limited to strengthening they can range from stretching to hydrotherapy to riding a bike.
An accredited exercise physiologist is an important allied health member who can assist you with your osteoarthritis, regardless of what joint it is in, and can assist you in continuing or regaining your full, pain free function.
Author – Hannah Goodwin
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
© Townsville & Suburban Medical Practice, 2015.
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