Knee Arthritis and Exercise

Knee arthritis and exercise research was done at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia to determine whether activity prescribed for heart patients was in fact aggravating their joints.

In more general terms, does the movement exacerbate the wear of cartilage and increase the degenerative pain in our joints? Can keeping fit actually lessen the stiffness or does it only affect the pain of wear and tear?

I think you will agree, these are important questions. If you have painful joints, should you be exercising more, or less?

The participants

The walking benefits of exercising the knees on the whale trail.

Three hundred healthy adults aged fifty to eighty with no history of knee injury or disease were recruited from an existing study on aging.

MRI's were done on their knees to determine cartilage defects and thickness; and general wear and tear. The patients were followed for fifteen years when new scans were made.

Tibial knee cartilage volume actually increased with the frequency and duration of vigorous activity.

Moreover vigorous weight bearing activity not only increased the tibial cartilage volume and was also inversely associated with defects.

In short more weight bearing activity resulted in less cartilage defects.

In other words couch potatoes the cartilage becomes thinner and more defects develop.

Their conclusions were that vigorous physical activity appears to have a beneficial effect on knee articular hyaline cartilage in healthy adults with no history of injury or disease. Regular walking reduces the risk of bone marrow lesions in the femur and tibia.

This study provides further support for the beneficial effect of physical activity for diseases associated with aging; and suggests that exercise that is good for the heart is also a boon for the knees[1].

Knee arthritis and Chiropractic

First and foremost accept that anti-inflammatory drugs such as Brufin and aspirin, particularly if taken simultaneously for long periods will lead you down a path of deteriorating general health.

Secondly that orthopaedics has only seriously invasive medicine to offer; total joint replacement, arthroscopy surgery  and questionable micro knee fractures that MAY be of help to the young and very fit athlete but offer nothing

  • to the patient over 45
  • those with a cartilage legion over one inch
  • and the obese

In short probably over 90% of those suffering from the pain and disability of knee arthritis.

Consider whether chiropractic may not have more to offer the arthritis pain in knee than conventional medicine. Would you be satisfied with 50% less pain and disability if you could avoid major surgery?

Knee Arthritis and Exercise

Anecdotes have zero scientific value but never will I forget a patient, a Springbok hockey goalie who went for a total knee replacement after my Chiropractic treatment provided only about 50% relief of her arthritis pain in knee symptoms. The operation was a great success, and Mrs L could indeed walk a good deal further within a few months; but she had no idea where she was going.

Two very simple basic knee exercises

Whilst any treatment has the potential to aggravate the condition, particularly if incorrectly done, this very simple knee arthritis and exercise programme can barely make the pain worse and, done faithfully has the potential to greatly improved the function of your legs.

Note though, this is not weight bearing exercise.

Ruptured Baker's cyst

Never take more than one painkiller at a time. So-called dual anti-inflammatory drugs have proved very dangerous.

Ultrasound scan of a ruptured Baker's cyst.

One potential problem with an overly robust exercise program for arthritic joints, particularly if the terrain is uncertain, or it involves over-flexion of the knee is the development of a Baker's cyst.

A communicating passage develops allowing synovial fluid from within the knee proper to pass into the semimembranosis bursa; a bulge is palpated medial in the popliteal fossa.

Sudden forced hyperflexion of the knee can cause the Baker's cyst to rupture.

It is extremely painful behind the knee with radiation down into the calf muscle.

Many arthritis sufferers take NSAIDs for relief of pain. Research done in 2008 gives shocking results, should you be taking two or more anti-inflammatory drugs simultaneously; for example, aspirin and Brufin.

Can this study be projected to other joints, for example those in the low back?

In a study done at the Leiden University Medical Centre, the Netherlands, it was found that function centred training for the low back was more effective than drugs in the treatment of lumbago. Use it, or lose it.The same is true for the knee.

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