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Will Exercise Help or Worsen Existing Knee Arthritis?

Will physical activity alleviate or aggravate my arthritis symptoms? This is a common question asked by individuals diagnosed with knee arthritis, a condition in which wear and tear on the knee leads to the breakdown of articular cartilage lining the joint. As this protective layer of knee cartilage degrades, inflammation and bone-on-bone interactions within the knee can become a chronic source of joint pain and stiffness.

By engaging in regular and appropriate exercise, many individuals with arthritis in the knee see improvements in their pain, physical function, quality of life, and general well-being. In fact, a carefully planned exercise routine is typically the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis patients.

Steven W. Meier, MD is a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the comprehensive treatment of osteoarthritis as well as injuries of the knee and shoulder. As a highly experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate physician, Dr. Meier is regarded as one of the best orthopedic surgeons in Beverly Hills and is recognized internationally as an expert in cutting-edge and regenerative treatments.

How Much Is Too Much for Arthritis in the Knee?

While physical activity has numerous benefits for individuals with arthritis, exercise that is too frequent or rigorous can aggravate arthritis symptoms and cause further damage to the knee joint. In order to reduce pain and improve joint mobility and flexibility, activity should be limited to stretching and low-impact exercises. Endurance and resistance activities, such as walking, cycling, swimming, and other water-based exercises, are considered to be the most effective.

Before engaging in an exercise routine to help with knee osteoarthritis, it is important to consult an experienced orthopedic surgeon to outline a treatment plan that is appropriate for your specific condition. In addition to regular physical activity, your surgeon may recommend the following lifestyle changes to delay progression of the condition and provide symptomatic relief:

  • Losing weight (if overweight) can help relieve weight stresses from the knees and make movement during activities easier
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet in order to nourish the body and replace depleted resources
  • Getting the proper amount of rest each night to get the most benefits from this daily period of time during which the body regenerates itself

What if Lifestyle Changes Don’t Help Osteoarthritis?

As a degenerative condition, it is quite common for osteoarthritis or knee arthritis to gradually worsen over time. When lifestyle changes fail to improve symptoms of knee arthritis, patients have several treatment options. Corticosteroid and artificial joint fluid injections can provide temporary relief from pain and stiffness. More invasive, but highly effective, surgical options include osteotomy, total and partial knee replacement. In some cases, small cartilage defects can be trimmed or even repaired using minimally invasive arthroscopic knee surgery.

The most advanced solution to early-stage knee arthritis, however, is an emerging group of orthopedic procedures known collectively as cartilage restoration. These highly innovative, cutting-edge techniques aim to regenerate cartilage and restore natural integrity to the joint. One form of cartilage restoration that has been perfected by Dr. Meier, known as Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI Surgery), involves the removal, growth, and re-implantation of healthy cartilage cells, which are taken from the patient and later put into the damaged area of their joint. Though the procedure will only be of benefit for certain patients whose conditions and pattern of joint damage meet a strict set of criteria, ACI surgery is often the most effective method to dramatically repair cartilage damage and ensure that a patient can return to activity with little residual pain.

Dr. Meier is highly qualified to perform ACI surgery, and is one of the select few orthopedic surgeons in the United States who specializes in cartilage restoration. If you suffer from early-stage osteoarthritis or have a localized cartilage defect, Dr. Meier can assess your eligibility for arthroscopic surgery, ACI surgery, or other cartilage restoration and pain-relieving procedures.

Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon in Beverly Hills

Dr. Steven Meier is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in sports medicine and minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. As a leading expert in the field of joint restoration, Dr. Meier offers a variety of cutting-edge therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis and joint degeneration. Find out more by contacting Beverly Hills orthopedic surgeon Steven Meier, M.D. at (310) 777-7845. You may also fill out our contact form and a representative from Meier Orthopedic Sports Medicine will be in touch with you shortly!


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The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions.