Knee osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of OA, is a painful and debilitating condition. It’s usually felt more severely after physical activity. Symptoms include pain and stiffness, loss of flexibility, a feeling that the bones in the joint are rubbing together, and swelling and tenderness. As symptoms of knee OA gradually increase, it becomes hard to live with the constant pain associated with it.
First and foremost, it’s imperative to talk with your doctor about your pain.
According to an increasing number of studies, getting support for pain management can impact patient outcomes in a significant way.
Get the Support You Need
It’s important you get the support you need in order to cope with the pain of OA. The toll of the pain varies from person to person. OA can be hard to treat. This can be frustrating as it affects the quality of your life.
Coping with pain and keeping it at bay is the first step toward recovery. You can reinforce your own take-charge-of-pain attitude by trying some of the following tips. See if any, or all, work for you!
You Are Not Alone
Millions of people across the world deal with OA daily.
Check and see if your local hospital offers a support group for pain management. Support groups can be beneficial and also create a social setting filled with people who understand your situation. Talk about your feelings, and don’t be afraid to ask for help — moderate to severe pain that occurs over a period of time can cause depression, but if you keep a positive attitude, you can weather any storm.
Keep a Journal
Remember, it’s natural to feel frustration when you’re in pain.
Try keeping a daily journal that includes an exercise log and a place to record your feelings. If you take up bicycling to strengthen the muscles around your knee, you can note the date and time of your ride, how far you went, and where you went in this journal. You can also write about how you felt when you woke up, the severity of pain (mornings can be hard for people with knee OA), and what helped alleviate the pain.
Research shows that writing about pain and illness can have tangible, positive effects on healing.
Forms of online social media can also help boost your self-esteem and foster a sense of community. The many online patient blogs that deal with the subject of OA pain can also help. Knowledge about your condition and listening to other people talk about how they cope with pain is a great resource.
One online support group is the Arthritis Foundation Community at Inspire.
Other Ways to Get Support
Often a weight-loss recommendation is one of the first things on the list from your doctor. Even a few pounds lost will help take extra weight off the joint. Overall weight loss may have other health benefits as well, such as lowering blood pressure, or managing other diseases like diabetes. There are weight-loss clinics your doctor can recommend, or you can contact your local hospital.
Joining an exercise group could give you a sense of community. If the group is formed through a hospital or physical therapy service, it can offer you the chance to talk and socialize with other people who have to cope with chronic pain.
Exercising in a class setting is a great way to be social. Also, classes like yoga, Tai Chi, and others can help with flexibility and range of motion.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. You don’t want to do too much and worsen the problem.
Physical therapy is a common form of treatment. A good physical therapist will work with you to help you deal with pain and the toll it can take on everyday life by suggesting a simple, daily exercise routine, like riding a bike. Just getting out and pedaling, gradually increasing the mileage and the height of the hills, can strengthen the quadriceps and calf muscles, thereby reducing stress on the joints and diminish pain.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help — many supermarkets or food co-ops have people who will help carry groceries, and you can ask relatives to help around the house with other chores. You are not alone in your battle with OA pain.