Do you have osteoarthritis and have to motivate yourself with “Eye of the Tiger” every time you look at a flight of stairs? If so, here are a few steps you can take to take control of your knee pain.
For those of us living with osteoarthritis, going up a hill is an uphill battle. We fall victim to the battlefield inside our joint space. Years of confrontation, unbeknownst to us. Perhaps the war was triggered 10 years ago when we slipped and sprain our knee. Perhaps it’s in retaliation to the few extra pounds we put on. Perhaps it’s because we’re getting older. Or perhaps it was just meant to be, because after all, we come from a line of folks whose knees, hips, and feet tend to host battles. Whatever the reason, our joint spaces have seen long, dragged out battles. For years, rouge inflammatory mediators have been directing enzymes to attack the structure within the joint. Our cartilage and soft-tissue components of the joint (including ligaments, the joint capsule, and, in the knee, the menisci) are collateral damage. Those little skirmishes leave behind a landscape that’s hardly recognizable, with loss of joint space and bony spur formation. We end up with joint architecture that manifests in pure hell with every weight-bearing step.
But do not give up. There are things within our control that can make everyday a bit less combative. While it’s unclear if weight loss slows the disease process itself, it does help ease the pain. Losing around ten percent of our body weight may decrease our pain by up to 50%. Splints that immobilize the joints can help reduce pain and inflammation. Braces can help shift some of the forces affecting the knee. Physical therapy and exercise can improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints. And of course, there’s no need to wage battle alone. We can always seek help from our providers to discuss medication options and surgical options, if needed.
Don’t give up the fight. Take steps to reclaim your joint space.