Arthritis of the knee can be a painful and limiting condition. Simple things like walking up stairs, or even walking at all, can be challenging. Osteoarthritis is the most documented type of arthritis in the knee, though rheumatoid arthritis is more severe. Both types of arthritis have inflammation around the knee joint. Although arthritis can lead to deformity and decreased range of motion, there are exercises that can be done to gain strength and mobility.
Pain in and around the knee, decreased range of motion, stiffness, swelling, popping sounds, and deformities such as knock-knees or bowed legs are symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. The cartilage that protects the knee joint thins and wears over time and inflammation occurs. This leads to osteophytes being formed, which are bony irregularities. All these conditions together make moving the knee difficult and painful.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease. It is the most crippling type of arthritis. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain, stiffness, aches, swelling, decreased range of motion of the knee, deformity, and for some people a fever. The symptoms tend to come and go.
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with gentle aerobic exercise like walking. Lie on your back with an ankle weight on each leg. Bring your right leg up in the air a couple of inches and place a bolster or rolled up towel under the knee. Keeping your leg straight, press down into the towel. Relax your leg and repeat. Start with a total of two sets of 10 repetitions per leg and after a couple of weeks increase to three sets.
Sit in a chair with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Starting with your right foot, slide your foot forward a few inches and then backward a few inches from the center point. Start with a total of two sets of 10 repetitions per leg and after a couple of weeks increase to three sets. Also, increase the distance that you slide your feet.
Stand in front of a wall or a table. Feet should be about hip-width apart. Raise your right heel off the floor, coming onto the ball of your foot and exhale. You may use the wall or table for balance. Inhale and lower your foot. Switch legs after 10 repetitions. Do two sets per leg and increase to three sets after a minimum of two weeks.
This exercise is done lying on your side. If you lie on a floor, put a Pilates mat or thick towel underneath you so your hip bone does not press uncomfortably into the floor. Start on your left side with your legs stacked evenly one on top of the other. You may place your right hand on the floor for balance. Relax your head onto your left bicep. Lift your right leg a few inches and hold for a moment as you exhale. Lift your leg 10 times and then roll onto your right side and lift the left leg. Do two sets.
From a seated position, place a tennis ball or similar between your knees and squeeze. Exhale as you press your knees together and hold the isometric squeeze for five to ten seconds. Relax without dropping the ball and repeat. Do ten repetitions two or three times. Rest between reps and sets.