Knee arthritis or osteoarthritis is an increasingly common condition. Over 32 million Americans deal with osteoarthritis each and every year. Often the diagnosis of arthritis can be a "death sentence" for both lifestyle and daily activity.
Osteoarthritis (OA) involves changes at the joint often leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of normal joint function. In particular knee OA can be challenging with day to day activities such as walking, climbing stairs or running.
Here we will answer:
> Can I "wear out" my knee?
> What helps knee arthritis?
In the past we have understood knee OA to be caused by "wear and tear" at the joint. The thinking was similar to a car tire, once its worn down it needs to be replaced. However new reseach has changed that over the last five years.
Instead of "wear and tear" it is more of a dynamic process such as a muscle getting stronger with use. The old adage "use it or lose it" applied here. Staying active in general has been shown to prevent further joint damage and degneration.
What helps knee arthritis?
The BEST research shows than structured exercise whether that be walking or light strength training can gradually improve both your movement and decrease the associated pain. In terms of pain relief NSAIDs and acupuncture have shown great benefit in reducing joint pain and inflammation.
Alternatively corticosteroid injections to the knee have recently been shown to damage the remaining cartilage in the knee. One study found that patients who recived a steroid injection to the knee lost the remaining cartilage in their knee. In some cases it can even cause net bone loss to the entire knee!
In summary, knee arthritis does not have to keep you from doing the things you love. Starting with a non surgical, conservative approach is best for improving your pain.