Arthritis In Knee Treatment

Written By: Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board

Find out why exercises are such an important part of arthritis in knee treatment

There are a whole range of arthritis in knee treatment, but the one most consistently found to make a difference is exercises. 

Whilst exercises won't cure the knee arthritis, they can be extremely effective in reducing pain and increasing function, making a huge difference to daily life.  They can even help delay the need for surgery.

If the knee is strong and flexible, less weight goes through the arthritic knee and there is less pain and wear through the joint.

Here we will concentrate on advanced, challenging exercises for arthritis. If you haven’t already tried the strengthening, movement and balance exercises, I suggest you start there. Once you have mastered those and feel in need of more challenging exercises, these are the ones for you. 

You can also find out more about other arthritis in knee treatment options including injections, homeopathy and medication in the arthritis treatment section.

Advanced Exercises For Arthritis

1. Wall Squats

You get quadruple benefit with this arthritis knee exercise - it strengthens the quads, hamstrings and glutes and increases knee mobility/flexibility

  • Stand with your back against the wall, feet apart and about 30cms from the wall, toes pointing forwards

  • Slowly slide down the wall a few inches bending your knees. Hold for 3-5 seconds and return to starting position

  • Repeat 10-25 times, 2x daily

  • Progress by 1. Increasing the depth of the dip
    2. Holding the bent knee position for longer (aiming for 10secs)

Top Tip: As you squat, don’t let your knees come too far in or out - Keep your knee in line with your second toe so you can always see your big toe past the inside of your knee

2. Step Ups

This arthritis knee exercise is a very functional way of strengthening all the knee muscles and practising stairs, which people with knee arthritis often struggle with.

  • Stand facing the bottom of the stairs or a single step. Hold onto the wall/rail for support if required

  • Step up onto the first stair leading with the leg you want to strengthen. Without turning round, step both feet back down leading with the good leg

  • Repeat 10-30 times, 2x daily

  • You can challenge yourself further by 1. Not holding onto anything
    2. Keeping the leg to be worked up on the step and just moving the other leg up and down

Top Tip: If you don’t have any steps at home, be creative e.g. phone directory

3. Step Downs

Step downs are a great way to strengthen the quads, improve balance and improve knee stability, all key parts of arthritis in knee treatment.

  • Stand sideways on top of a step. Hold the wall/rail for support

  • Slowly lower your good leg down to the floor and then bring it back up (keeping your other foot up on the step throughout)

  • Repeat 5-20x, twice daily

Top Tips: 1. You are aiming to do this in a slow, controlled fashion
2. Don’t let the knee twist inwards, keep it in line with your second toe so you can always see your big toe

Arthritis in Knee Treatment Plan

For effective arthritis in knee treatment, exercises should be done at least five times per week.  Here you will find a daily exercise plan that means you split the exercises into groups rather than having to do them all at the same time. This way, each set will take you less than five minutes, making it much more manageable to fit into busy days.

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If you haven't already seen them, I suggest you have a look at the strengthening exercises and movement and balance exercise pages for more really helpful arthritis in knee treatment ideas.

This programme gives you a mix of strengthening, movement and balance exercises, with the option to progress onto the advanced exercises when you feel ready.  I have colour co-ordinated each exercise so you know what type of arthritis in knee treatment exercise it is e.g. strengthening exercises are colour coded in blue

Please tailor this to suit you – some exercises may be too easy or too difficult for you and therefore not appropriate. Find what works for you. The people who have the most success are those who stick with their exercise programmes. For information see the Getting The Best Results from arthritis in knee treatment section.

AM: Before Getting Out of Bed: Heel Slides, Short Arcs, Straight Leg Raise, Knee Marching and either The Clam OR Buttock Clenches

Late Morning AND Afternoon: Kick Backs, Sit To Stand OR Advanced exercises. Plus Long arcs, Ankle Spins and Single leg standing

Evening: Heel Slides, Short arc quads, Straight Leg Raise and either The Clam OR Buttock Clenches

Anytime sitting for more than 20 mins: Long Arcs and Ankle spins

If you would prefer to only do exercises twice a day, combine the AM and late morning set, and the afternoon and evening set.

What Else Can Help?

Exercises are just one part of arthritis in knee treatment.  There are a number of other things that can really help including knee braces, acupuncture, natural remedies and changing your diet for arthritis.

For more information including symptoms, diagnosis and other arthritis in knee treatment options, check out the following articles:

  1. Arthritis Causes: The main causes of arthritis
  2. Symptoms & Diagnosis: The symptoms of OA and how is it diagnosed
  3. Stages of OA: How the disease and symptoms progress
  4. Treatment Options: 15 great ways to reduce arthritis knee pain
  5. Diet For Arthritis: Which foods to avoid and which foods can help
  6. Natural Arthritis Remedies: Including supplements, homeopathy and alternative therapies
  7. Knee Arthritis Surgery: Replacing an arthritic knee with a new one
  8. Beat Knee Arthritis: Everything you need to know in a handy book

Page Last Updated: 11/09/21
Next Review Due: 11/09/23

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