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Exercises for Knee Arthritis

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/31/2010

Knee arthritis leads to excruciating pain, stiffness, and swelling. However, exercise for arthritis in your knee is very effective in alleviating the symptoms of knee arthritis. Learn more about what exercises are helpful to this disease.

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    Knee Arthritis Overview

    Osteoarthritis, the most common type of knee arthritis, is a condition in which the cartilage of the joint is worn away, allowing raw bone to become exposed within the joint. Cartilage is the flexible tissue that supports the joints in the bones. When the cartilage wears away, it leads to excruciating pain due to a rough joint surface. This condition can affect just one knee or both knees.

    Some symptoms of knee arthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling. As it progresses, this disease can involve joint deformity. Several risk factors contributing to this condition include family history of arthritis, obesity, and severe trauma (fractures or broken bones).

    If you have knee arthritis and you would like to find treatments, exercise for arthritis in your knee is very effective in easing the symptoms. Before starting, you should consult with your health care provider about which exercise program is best for you.

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    Hydrotherapy

    Hydrotherapy, or aqua therapy, or water therapy, is an exercise program performed in a swimming pool. You may find it easy to do, as the buoyancy of water reduces stress on the joints. Exercising in water has many benefits. It improves muscle tone by providing a mild resistance to your movements and it makes exercising more comfortable and safer because the water supports the body. To be more effective, you should have a trained therapist assisting you.

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    Standing Exercises

    Both standing and sitting exercises should be performed with each leg. When standing, you can use a chair to help support yourself. To make the workout more enjoyable, turn on some music.

    Below are some of simple standing exercises:

    Marching in place

    Raise one foot by bending your knee as high as possible, bring it back to the ground, and repeat with the other foot. Continue the process for about two minutes.

    Bending your knees

    Set your feet apart about 12 inches. With your hands on your hips, slowly lower your body while bending your knees (as if you are sitting down) then stand back up. Avoid bending your knees too deeply as this could possibly injure your knees. Do this ten times.

    Moving your leg to your side

    This position requires a chair to help balance yourself. Stand up straight with one hand holding a chair and the other hand on your hip. Move one leg to your side and avoid bending at your waist. Hold this position for about three seconds then bring your leg back. Do this ten times. After this, change your leg position and do the same.

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    Sitting Exercises

    The following sitting exercises are done in a straight-back chair:

    Raising your knees

    Lift one foot about three inches from the floor. Hold this position for about ten seconds. After this, bring your foot back to the floor. Do five repetitions for each leg.

    Raising your legs

    Raise one foot from the floor until your leg is straight (or as straight as you can get it). Hold it for about ten seconds then lower your foot back to the floor. Do this five times with each leg.

    Kicking back

    Move one foot backwards so that it is under the chair. Touching the floor with your toe is okay. Hold this position for about ten seconds then bring it back. Perform five times with each leg.

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    References

    Orthop.washington.edu: What is Knee Arthritis? - http://www.orthop.washington.edu/knee-arthritis

    Arthritis.org: Introduction to Arthritis Exercise - http://www.arthritis.org/exercise-intro.php

    Hyalgan.com: Osteoarthritis Knee Exercises - http://www.hyalgan.com/docs/pdf/SHY-1701_Website_refreshV_M04.pdf