What exercises can I do after being diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis?

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Question:

I am 74 yrs. old and have been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. I had been doing seated leg curls and leg extensions on the gym machines with about 25-30 lb. weights. I stopped doing these two exercises as I thought they may be more harmful to my knees. Should I continue to do these on the machines or skip them? I do use the tread machine also.

Answer:

Thank you for your question. While we cannot comment on your specific condition without doing a thorough evaluation, we can offer general advice for you to consider.

First off, it is important to note that people with osteoarthritis experience and manage it differently. It is common to have discomfort with weight bearing activities such as walking, stair climbing and squatting, especially if someone has been inactive for a period of time. One of the best things someone with osteoarthritis can do is to keep moving and to find forms of exercise that are enjoyable in order to stay active.

Strengthening the muscles around the knee is important for overall knee joint health. Leg extension and leg curl exercises are generally effective exercises for strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. However, if an exercise is painful or uncomfortable, one may need to modify the exercise by decreasing the resistance or decreasing the range of movement. It is also highly recommended to strengthen the hips and ankles, as well as improving balance for knee health. Since the knee joint is between the hip and ankle joints, often the knee can take on too much stress if the hips and ankles are not as strong. Having a well-rounded routine can help people with knee osteoarthritis stay active and continue to participate in activities they enjoy doing.

Walking is a great option for getting cardiovascular exercise, but if someone is having pain with walking, we often recommend trying other options like the stationary bike or swimming to prevent increased discomfort in the knee.
After a formal evaluation, a physical therapist can provide appropriate exercises to start with and progress those exercises as they see fit. A physical therapist can also assess and help modify your gym routine exercises so that you can continue with minimal discomfort.

Please note, this reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.

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