Osteoarthritis of the knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee or degeneration of the knee joint

Osteoarthritis of the knee

"Osteoarthritis favourite", the knee joint

Osteoarthritis, or joint wear and tear of the knee, is a painful, non-inflammatory, irreversible degenerative condition of the knee joint caused by erosion of the articular cartilage.

Cartilage

Cartilage ... functions like a shock absorber e.g., cushioning the joint against sudden sharp impacts.

Causes of osteoarthritis of the knee

The main causes of osteoarthritis of the knee are:

  • Trauma during sports and recreational activities
  • Overloading by heavy physical labour
  • A congenital deformity of the joints
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Overweight

The knee joint connects the thigh bone to the shinbone. The ends of both bones are covered with cartilage and held together by an articular capsule. Muscles, ligaments and tendons ensure the stability of the knee joint.

Tips for people with osteoarthritis of the knee

Although the following tips have been compiled for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, they are also helpful for those with other forms of osteoarthritis:

Standing up

Support yourself on your arms when standing up. Then your legs don't suddenly take all your weight alone. After longer periods of sitting (e.g. car journeys, cinema, concerts, etc.), you should move your knee joint around a few times before standing up.

Walking stick

Use a walking stick. Supporting yourself on a stick can relieve up to 30% of the load on the knee joint. You should always use the stick on your healthy side.

Breaks

Treat yourself to regular rests sitting down; i.e. after you have been standing for an hour or so, you should have a break and sit down for five to ten minutes.

Shoes

Wear shoes that give you a good grip. Closed shoes are better than open shoes or sandals. Lower heels are better for the knee joint. You should also make sure that the soles and heels of your shoes are not worn down completely or on one side. You should get the soles and heels repaired regularly.

Sitting

Straighten your leg whenever possible while sitting. This stops the kneecap pressing down too hard on the condyles in the knee.

Carrying

Don't carry heavy bags, boxes, crates of drinks, etc. The weight doesn't just weigh heavily on your torso, but your legs have to carry it too.

Climbing stairs

Walk slowly up and down stairs. Put as much of your weight as possible on the banister.

medi M.4s OA knee brace – instructions for users

Watch our video to learn how orthoses can help relieve strain on the knee.

Orthoses are used for both postoperative therapy and conservative (non surgical) treatment.

Orthoses stop the leg from swinging out sideways to relieve stresses and strain on the painful structures in the knee joint.

Suitable sports for patient with osteoarthritis of the knee

Cycling: Bicycle training – on your exercise bike or ergometer – is a particularly suitable form of sport for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, because the knee joint is subject to even movements without having to bear the body's weight. Select the lowest possible gear to take as much stress off the knee as possible. Set the bike up, so that you can just stand on the pedal with your heel.

Power walking: Power walking is the alternative to jogging for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, because the stresses on the joints are lower (jogging: 2.5 to 3 times body weight, power walking 1.0 to 1.5 times body weight). It is important to wear shoes that offer enough support and have above-average damping properties. Forest floors, farm tracks or sandy pathways are more suitable than asphalt surfaces.

Aqua-jogging: Exercises in water are particularly recommended for patients with osteoarthritis, because the buoyancy of the water considerably reduces stresses on the joint. A higher water temperature of around 30°C also has a positive effect. If you wear a buoyancy jacket, aqua-jogging is also a possible physical exercise for patients with osteoarthritis. The buoyancy of the water completely relieves all weight on the joints and muscles Aqua-jogging also has positive effects on the cardiovascular system and our metabolism.

Swimming: Like aqua-jogging, swimming is very suitable for patients with osteoarthritis due to the buoyancy of the water. The crawl is the most recommended swimming style for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The movement of the leg muscles during the crawl is more suitable for building up muscles than with breast stroke due to the scissor movement. A higher water temperature is also recommended for swimming.

Sources:

Klein, Dr. med. Christoph (2014): Orthopädie für Patienten. Medizin verstehen. Remagen: Verlag Michels-Klein

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