According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million Americans are feeling the effects of osteoarthritis, with one in two adults developing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis in their lives. Osteoarthritis can cause pain and inflammation in joints as the cartilage begins to wear and breakdown, but while it may seem like the best idea to rest them by giving up higher impact activities, does an osteoarthritis diagnosis mean you’re hanging up the sneakers for good?
What exactly is Osteoarthritis?
Cartilage, a firm, rubbery tissue, covers the end of each bone, and in a healthy joint, it provides a smooth surface for the bones to move against, also acting as a cushion between them. When the cartilage begins to break down or thin over time, movement can become painful, causing swelling and mechanical issues. Knee Osteoarthritis is typically caused by genetics, the strain of extra weight, injury, overuse, or muscle weakness or an imbalance that alters joint movement.
An osteoarthritis diagnosis?
There is no single test that can diagnose hip or knee osteoarthritis, but it is commonly misused as the overall “condition” when pain persists. It’s very important to consider the actual source of inflammation when seeking an effective treatment plan, as that triggers the pain response. Is it a breakdown of cartilage or lack of cushioning? Is it pieces of bone or cartilage in the joint fluid? Is it simply a biomechanical issue? An effective treatment plan should treat each patient specifically and not just the “condition.”
What are Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis Treatment Considerations For Runners?
It may be hard to consider exercising with a painful joint, but one of the best ways to manage symptoms of osteoarthritis is to keep moving. Taking too much rest can allow muscle weakness to set in, which will contribute to further imbalance and strain. Strengthening your legs, hips, pelvis and core is paramount to maintaining stability, as is engaging in range of motion exercises to improve joint mobility and flexibility.
Spread the Load
One of the most important steps a runner can take to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis is to change the load of stress across the knee, which could mean changing your running schedule, upgrading to a more supportive shoe, or even changing your running form, stride, or pace. It is possible to “re-educate” the body to run more ergonomically, thereby significantly reducing pressure and inflammation in the knees.
Maintain a healthy weight
According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of excess weight carried exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees, meaning that if someone is 20 pounds overweight, their knees are carrying an extra 80 pounds of pressure because of it. Running is a great way to reduce the excess weight and to improve overall health. A study by Paul T. Williams, PhD, of the Life Sciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agrees. They determined that running significantly reduced osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk, due, in part, to a runner’s association with a lower BMI.
Running Out of Patience?
If you’ve received an osteoarthritis diagnosis and are looking for an effective, innovative solution, contact us today. At Flexogenix®, we strive to provide non-surgical solutions including regenerative medicine and advanced biologics that can eliminate the need for surgery and allow you to maintain an active and pain free lifestyle.