Best Knee Arthritis Treatment Without Surgery: First 3 Steps to Find Relief

Surgery is not inevitable if you have knee arthritis. It is one of the many options you have available but many people choose it too early. This is because they aren’t aware there are any alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

Surgery for knee arthritis comes with risks that many want to avoid. Here’s more on how to decide if surgery is right for you.

The best knee arthritis treatment without surgery includes appropriate exercise therapy, fueling your body with the right food, and changing the way you think about your pain. These options are equally as effective for most people and have the possibility to bring life changing pain relief to those with knee arthritis.

Here are the best options for treatment of arthritis in knee without surgery, let’s discuss these.

1. find a movement program that works for you

Exercise that feels good to your arthritic knees may be hard to come by initially. Sometimes doctors or other medical professionals may even tell you to “slow down” or to “avoid exercises like squats or lifting weights”. 

If you have been told these things, know that you aren’t alone.

Exercise can single handedly be one of the most powerful alternatives to a knee replacement. The tricky part is knowing the right exercises to do.

I have met so many people who had pain when squatting, when going up and down stairs, and when getting up and down from the floor. But with some consistency and the right type of exercise anything is possible! 

One woman I worked with below on her knee osteoarthritis pain, started out dreading squats. She had pain and did not feel confident. She wanted to be able to squat when with her grandkids though. 

Turns out, that with the right exercises and building strength again- she actually loved squats- even with weight! 

Look at her go below and even with a smile on her face.

Why is exercise necessary?

Knee arthritis pain is usually increased when you have muscle imbalances or improper mechanics when moving from compensations you may be making. 

When you exercise without addressing these things, you will like be in more pain.

For example, squatting is usually a painful movement but it does help to build up your leg muscles. If your hip muscles have strength deficits or if your squat form is not correct- your joints will stay mad at you whenever you do them.

Cleaning up a few simple things can get you squatting in no time! But pushing through significant pain when doing an exercise will not.

Appropriate exercise therapy is key.

Using the right movements to help with treatment of your knee arthritis involves looking at other muscles in your hips, ankles and low back.

Balance is also incredibly important when you are searching for relief.

Everything in your body is connected. But many times, when we have knee pain, the doctor or surgeon may only look at the knees! 

The main thing I want you to know is that exercise should not feel like torture and focusing on other areas besides just the knees is incredibly important.

How to get started with exercise

Start with exercise that you like and doesn’t cause significant knee arthritis pain. Your options include walking, cycling, hiking, swimming, weight lifting, kickboxing, etc.

THEN, the most important part, make sure you add variety to your movements.

If you rely on walking for your only exercise, you aren’t getting enough variety in your movement. Your life is spent primarily moving in a forward direction. Without side to side or backwards movement, you are neglecting some vital muscles and overloading parts of your knee joint.

Even something as simple as walking backwards can be extremely effective at reducing knee pain. Learn more about that here.

Moving side to side is another way you can easily incorporate variety into your routine. Including something as simple as walking sideways along your kitchen counter or kicking your leg out to the side can help relieve your knee arthritis pain.

The key is you have to be consistent. Consistency can go a LONG way on a journey to finding alternatives to a knee replacement!

But what if movement hurts?

If you are struggling to find movements that don’t flare up your knee arthritis pain, a great option I HIGHLY recommend  using are bodyweight suspension straps. They are SO easy to use at home and can help movement seem less scary.
See an example of some exercises and how to use them in the video above. You can also check out this post for more ideas. 

One woman I was recently working with was so fearful of squatting because of the worry she was going to make her knees worse. After using the suspension straps like in the video above, she was actually able to squat without pain for the first time in years!

Check out my favorite set here.

knee surgery alternatives

2. Understand food can impact knee arthritis

Movement isn’t everything when it comes to managing knee arthritis pain. When looking at improving your success with alternatives to knee replacement surgery, you also have to look at what you are putting into your body!

Arthritis pain that you’re experiencing can be significantly affected by what you eat. In order to take control of treatment of your knee arthritis without surgery, it is important we look at our food choices. Here is a list of the BEST anti-inflammatory foods you should be eating.

Do you eat lots of sugary treats?

Processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup (candy, pastries, cakes, cookies, all the good stuff) can increase inflammation. Think of everything in moderation. If you have a sweet tooth, make it a goal of yours to decrease your intake on 1-2 days, then 3-4, progressing to moderation! It doesn’t have to be cold turkey.

Do you drink soda or other juices regularly?

Drinks other than water can decrease our hydration levels. When we drink a majority of these drinks- we usually don’t drink much water. Lack of hydration can dry our joints out and make them more painful. Think about a sponge. Without water, it is dry, brittle, and doesn’t work well. With water, it is able to do its job much easier!

How’s your fruit and vegetable intake?

Be honest with yourself. How would you rate the quality of your diet? 

Fruits and vegetables are not only vital to health and well-being but also to finding knee arthritis treatment without surgery.

Without quality foods, you do not get the minerals and vitamins you need. These vitamins and minerals help feed your the cartilage in your joints.  They also help to keep it strong.

When your knee cartilage becomes weak, it becomes irritated and painful. Increasing your intake of at least 1-2 servings a day is a great place to start.

3. Understanding your knee pain can be very powerful

Pain is initially protective. But, when you are in pain for a long period of time, your pain becomes overprotective.

This means your body thinks you are in danger more often than not. Much like a dog barking. First, the dog initially barks at someone entering the house who shouldn’t. Then, the dog starts barking at everyone that walks by- whether they are dangerous or not.

So how does this relate to knee pain? Your knee may be sending pain signals even if it is not in danger. This means that everytime you feel pain, it does not mean you are causing more damage. This is a very popular thought.

Knee arthritis pain system

So what is the best way to decrease these pain signals? 

You have to find the right movements that don’t significantly flare up pain. This will help your joint to realize it’s not in as much danger as once thought. Confidence can be very powerful.

You also have to understand that some discomfort is okay. If you stop at every sign of discomfort, our body continues to think it is in danger.

When you are moving, a little bit of pain is okay (2-4/10 on a scale from 1-10). Pain above 5/10 is our joint saying “hey I’m not ready for that right now“. Listen to your body. Significant pain is not normal.

Movement will not further harm your joint if you do it right! Movement is actually good for our joints and cartilage. But be careful. Overactivity can cause our joints to get a little irritated. It is important that you find a balance.

It has actually been found that not moving, decreasing exercise, and avoiding stressing your knee can actually cause more damage. So, rest is not the way to go with knee arthritis (unless you are in the middle of a pain flare up).

If you want more in-depth information on the meaning of pain, I highly recommend you go here.

The best knee arthritis treatment without surgery

In order to take advantage of possible alternatives to knee replacement surgery, we have to take a look at all three of these aspects collectively. Each one is just as important as the other and are all vital pieces of the puzzle.

  1. Find a movement program you can stick to. 
  2. Fuel your body with the appropriate foods it needs.
  3. Think about your pain differently. Don’t be afraid of exercise.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this video or site. This post may contain affiliate links that offer us a small commission with no extra cost to you

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