Although arthritis is commonly associated with old age, in some cases degeneration of the joint tissues may occur at a younger age. Early arthritis of knee joint usually occurs because of trauma to the knees. However, starting treatment at the early stage of arthritis helps to arrest destruction of the cartilages and tissues of the knee.
By avoiding activities that accelerate wear and tear of the knee tissues and with appropriate lifestyle choices, you can protect your knees from further damage. With proper treatment, you can avoid surgical interventions that become inevitable when the knees are severely damaged by arthritis.
Treatments for Early Arthritis of the Knee Joint
Despite the pain and stiffness of the knees, regular workouts are recommended for improving the knee mobility and preventing further destruction of the joint tissues. The workout programs of people with knee arthritis include stretching exercises, aerobic exercises and strengthening exercises. Stretching or flexibility exercises help to improve the range of motion and reduce stiffness of the knees. Along with the basic flexibility exercises, tai chi and certain yoga poses are considered beneficial for the knees.
Aerobic workouts are beneficial for your overall physical and mental health. By increasing stamina and endurance, they make a person more energetic. Studies suggest that these fitness workouts can also suppress activities of pro-inflammatory substances. However, high-impact aerobic exercises such as running are not recommended for people with knee arthritis.
The safest and most effective aerobic activities for knee arthritis patients are cycling, swimming and aquatic exercises. Workouts in the water are considered the safest exercises for people suffering from knee arthritis. While providing the same benefits of land exercises, the buoyancy of water prevents wear and tear of the knees. Strengthening exercises help to strengthen the muscles around the knee joints. Strong muscles are essential for reducing the pressure on the knees. These exercises with weights also help to improve the bone density and reduce the risk of fracture.
Maintain Normal Body Weight
If you are obese or overweight, losing your excess body weight will put the extra pressure off your knees, thereby preventing further destruction of the joints. Regular physical activities and a calorie restricted healthy diet help to maintain the body weight in the normal range.
Protect the Joints
Injury to the knees can aggravate arthritis pain and inflammation. Avoiding knee injuries can reduce further damage to the tissues of the knees. Take proper precautions to avoid falls. During sporting activities, consider covering the knees with appropriate knee-guard. Do not carry heavy objects. Injury to the knees during workouts can be avoided by doing stretching exercises or muscle warm up workouts before sports and fitness training.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your daily diet can protect you from pain and inflammation of the knees. Omega-3 fatty acid rich fish oil, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds can inhibit the pro-inflammatory activities of inflammatory mediators in the knees. Common culinary spices such as turmeric and ginger are also blessed with anti-inflammatory properties. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. They will supply your body sufficient antioxidant plant compounds that will protect the knee tissues from the harmful activities of free radicals.
Calcium and Vitamin D
You will need about 1000 to 1500 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D daily to keep your knees in good health. It is advisable to consume calcium through dietary sources such as milk, dairy, leafy green vegetables and broccoli.
As vitamin D is present only in a few foods, spending some time in the sun is considered the best option for boosting vitamin D synthesis in the body.
Take Drugs as Advised by your Doctor
When lifestyle modification is not sufficient for preventing arthritis flare-ups, your doctor will recommend medications for preventing progression of arthritis. Analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used for reducing pain and inflammation. However, your doctor may choose to recommend a low dosage of the pain relief drug for a limited period.
Bisphosphonates are used for improving the bone density. They work by slowing down bone loss. Osteoarthritis is also treated with the hormones estrogen and calcitonin. There is another osteoarthritis drug called teriparatide that works by stimulating bone growth.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the knees is treated with disease-modifying antirehumatic drugs (DMARD). You should start taking these drugs as soon as rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed. By weakening the immune system, DMARDs inhibit abnormal inflammatory activities of the immune substances in the knees. To experience the benefits of anti-arthritis drugs, they should be taken regularly according to the instructions of your physician.