Tired of knee pain from osteoarthritis?
Trying to get on with your life when suffering with knee pain associated with osteoarthritis can be tough. In much of our day to day using our legs is part of the gig so avoiding aggravation of the problem can be somewhat challenging. The pain from osteoarthritis can range from being a sharp pain when moving in certain directions to something that is a constant ache. In many cases the knee pain can be so severe it can result in sleep problems. Gradually the pain can become more chronic leading to further issues such as weight gain due to lack of activity and depression as a result of the feeling of hopelessness.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis occurs due to excessive wear and tear on a joint. It can be caused by injury, overuse or incorrect use of a joint. Gradually the cartilage, which is the body’s natural protection and cushioning between bones wears away faster than the body can repair it. Cartilage has poor blood supply and so is difficult for the body to regenerate. This leads to bones rubbing against each other causing pain, swelling and inflammation.
Why does it end up as the knee pain?
Our knees are major weight bearers of the body. Naturally they are built for the task but sometimes excess use or incorrect movement can lead to degeneration. Knee pain can also be as a result of impact injuries or being forced into directions they are just not designed to go.
What can I do if I have knee pain from osteoarthritis?
First of all inflammation, pain, is the body’s natural response to damage or injury. It helps to prevent movement and further damage in order to allow the region to heal. But our inflammation response can be magnified beyond what it is supposed to be due to factors such as diet. Being able to reduce the inflammation back to ‘normal’ levels helps the body to heal damage faster and more easily.
- Diet – there are several factors to take into account with diet. The digestive system is considered as the birth place of the immune response. Therefore poor digestive function or poor diet can lead to the immune response being magnified and therefore increasing pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis. The basic approach is to reduce reliance on processed foods as they tend to be high in sugar, which has an influence on inflammation. Elimination of wheat and other aggravating elements can also show positive effects on inflammation and pain relief.
- Exercise – I know it seems strange doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to rest your leg to help reduce your knee pain? Yes and no. Sometimes knee pain and osteoarthritis can be caused by a joint not moving properly causing uneven wearing of the joint. Appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises can help to correct the position of the joint so it moves properly reducing pain and further damage.
- Supplementation – Research shows a number of compounds may have a positive influence on inflammation and cartilage damage associated with osteoarthritis.
- Acupuncture – A systematic review of randomised control trials showed acupuncture to provide significant reduction of pain, improved mobility and quality of life (1). Pain relief and mobility improved further with treatment longer than 4 weeks. Acupuncture was also shown to have a stronger effect than standard care (2) suggesting an effective alternative to analgesics for people with osteoarthritis.
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- Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, Abou-Setta A, Friesen C, Tennenhouse M, et al. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:312.
- Corbett MS, Rice SJ, Madurasinghe V, Slack R, Fayter DA, Harden M, et al. Acupuncture and other physical treatments for the relief of pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee: network meta-analysis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Sep;21(9):1290-8.
- McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au.
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