Learn more about arthritis

Arthritis can be complicated and overwhelming. Learn more about arthritis including the best exercises, diets, and adventures. We are here to not only make it easy for you to understand but to bring hope to your situation with the tips and tricks we present.

can arthritis be reversed stop sign

Can Arthritis Be Reversed?! 5 Things You Can Do Right Now To STOP the Progression

So can arthritis be reversed? Many are too quick to say no because there isn’t a cure for arthritis but there is hope out there to stop the progression of it. You can reverse the severity of the symptoms of arthritis so you can still THRIVE. No raining on your parade today! The journey to help reverse arthritis is not an easy one but man, it is worth it to be on the other side.

This was a comment I recieved recently on one of my instagram posts and I thought I’d share it to see if any of you could relate:

I literally just cried my eyes out. I was very active and randomly both knees started swelling was diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and the Dr told me no more squats. They are my favorite. I am glad to see there is hope in doing squats again.❤️

Meghan

When we think about if arthritis can be reversed, so often our dreams are just shot right out of the sky. Everyone is quick to tell you the things you cannot do. You are usually left with no other options besides a tunnel of despair. One you feel alone in, I may add.

You likely already know that there isn’t a cure for osteoarthritis. What we can do though, is reverse the severity of the symptoms. Arthritis doesn’t have to dictate our lives; it is possible to come out on top.

But this journey to reverse arthritis symptoms may not be all butterflies and rainbows. Unfortunately the process looks more like a 2 year old trying to draw a line compared to a straight shot to freedom from pain.

I want you to know that you can do it. You can finally find freedom from arthritis pain once you dedicate yourself to the process. People have returned to hiking, skiing, biking, and even running despite being told that it was something they could never do again!

If you want to skip right ahead to the 5 things you can start doing right now to reverse arthritis- download this free guide instantly ⬇️

can arthritis be reversed

The exact 5 action steps will be found in this guide above. Let’s now look into some of the best ways you can approach reversing arthritis symptoms and what is possible if you do.

The BEST ways to reverse arthritis symptoms

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint stiffness and pain. You can learn more about what osteoarthritis feels like in this article. What are the best ways to reduce these two major symptoms?

Let’s take a look.

Joint stiffness can be annoying. Sitting down or standing in the same position for >20 minutes and all of a sudden your joints feel like cement blocks. Maybe you even have to hobble around for the first few steps. In order to find relief from joint stiffness, movement is one of the best answers. 

Depending on the joint, there are specific movements that can be done. Take a look at this video below for some simple, yet effective ideas!

Joint pain can be one of the most limiting symptoms when it comes to osteoarthritis. Painful joints can make movement really hard. It is important to understand what is causing your joint pain, and it may not be as obvious as you think.

One woman I had met had tried everything from ointments, medications, acupuncture, massage, heating pads, diet overhaul, and even walking- experiencing little to no long term pain relief. What she didn’t realize was she was lacking one extremely important thing: VARIETY in her movement.

Simply adding in specific moves that brought variety to her routine, unlocked pain relief that she never thought was possible.

We live our lives in a forward direction. We rarely ever move side to side or even backwards. It is extremely important that we consciously try to add variety to our day. Unsure of where to begin? Don’t worry, I have you covered. Here are some excellent ways to get started: 

What is possible once arthritis pain is behind you

When I meet with someone who appears hopeless because of arthritis pain, I know there is great opportunity that lies in working with them. I want you to know that if you are feeling hopeless, sitting here reading this blog post, you are not alone in this journey anymore.

You can learn so much from others who have walked your same path and came out on the other side. Once joint pain and joint stiffness are under control- doors of opportunity can fly open.

I just recently was working with a woman who was dealing with right knee swelling, stiffness after sitting for work, and inside of the knee pain that would even wake her up at night. She was in her 40s and was dedicated to keeping her backpacking adventures alive.

She experienced increased knee pain after a hike and it just never went away. Come to find out she was told she had arthritis. She was an avid hiker and backpacker here in Utah so that diagnosis didn’t settle well with her. 

Initially, we worked through ways to manage pain and swelling. We were able to find movements she was actually able to do without flaring up her knee pain! She dedicated herself to adding these movements every day.

Fast forward 2 months. She has been on 2 camping trips including hiking for multiple days. She has been able to begin interval running- which she didn’t think would be possible again! She now has a goal to go on a hike that is over 2000 ft of elevation gain.

She has been able to accomplish amazing things and keep her arthritis adventure alive. If you want to stop waiting to start yours, learn more about how you can get started HERE.

If you want to read more ✨inspiring✨ stories, head to this blog post.

Conclusion

The next time you hear “can arthritis be reversed” you now know the answer is simply not, NO. Instead of trying to reverse it completely, you can reduce the severity and the magnitude of your symptoms so you can live out your arthritis adventure.

How are you going to begin to reverse your arthritis symptoms today?!

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.

find the best arthritis specialist

How to find the RIGHT Arthritis Specialist For You in 2021

An arthritis specialist is someone who has experience in treating those with a certain type of arthritis, usually rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. These clinicians and practitioners explore all options and stay up to date with the most current treatments. Seeing an arthritis specialist can help you understand all of your options as well as the best interventions for you to find pain relief. 

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

“I feel like my doctor just dismisses my pain and gives me more medications.”

“My surgeon told me I essentially have to give up everything I love doing. I’m devastated.”

“It sounds like surgery is my only option and I just have to wait it out until then.”

“The physical therapist just tells me to ride the bike when I’m there and sometimes I leave with more pain than I came in with…”

“I really feel like my doctor just doesn’t listen to me. I really wish I could just find some answers.”

These scenarios can be all too common if the person you are seeing for your arthritis isn’t listening to you. It is so important to find a clinician who sees you as a person instead of a diagnosis.

Many times arthritis can feel like a devastating diagnosis. Without the appropriate support and guidance you may find yourself getting surgery prematurely or getting injections that could have been avoided. 

An arthritis specialist can give you more options and suggestions based on your goals and their experience treating arthritis. There are many different people that can specialize in arthritis including: 

  • Rheumatologists
  • Primary Care Physicians
  • Physical therapists (that’s me!)
  • Orthopedist

How do you know if they specialize in arthritis? Most of the time they will mention it in their title or on their website. But, even without this title, they can still offer you the support and guidance you need. The title is definitely an added bonus though. Personal recommendations from friends and family can also be helpful.

Let’s look into how to find the right healthcare provider for you. There are definitely items that can help you decide if you need a second opinion or a different perspective.

What to look for in a healthcare provider

Finding the right person to help you through your arthritis journey is crucial to your success. Having someone who can help guide your decisions and bring you confidence in your diagnosis will make a tremendous difference.

Here are 5 things to look for when deciding if a healthcare provider is right for you. Take a look at these questions and see if the provider you were seeing could accomplish 4 or all 5 of these items.

  • Did they ask about you– what you like to do, what you want to accomplish, what is important to you
  • Did they describe to you what arthritis is -besides just blaming it on “wear and tear”?
  • Did they give you another option besides surgery and other major procedures– including things you can do or changes you can make?
  • Did they ask if you had any questions– instead of assuming you don’t and simply leaving the room?
  • Did they tell you that you couldn’t do something that you love doing?

If the healthcare provider you are meeting with acheives 3 of these or less, a second opinion is highly recommended. Check below for a printable checklist!

arthritis specialist checklist

You deserve more

The more you know about arthritis, the better you will be at identifying who can best help you. If you are serious about tackling arthritis and don’t want to spend more time searching, you have to check out the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint!

Arthritis can be challenging and you need someone who is going to support you through the ups and downs- not someone who is going to dismiss your pain.

I saw so many people falling through the cracks. Pain being dismissed as “degenerative” with no hope in sight for recovery. Learning that there is “no cure for arthritis” so you just have to fight it out until surgery. This is NOT how it has to be.

Instead, people have gained hope and optimism with arthritis. Look at what members of our private community has learned through our sharing of powerful, in depth-information about arthritis. You won’t typically learn this from a general practitioner or someone who sees all kinds of diagnoses. Have you ever learned any of these things below? 

arthritis specialist advice

If your healthcare provider has focused on the things you can’t do instead of the things you can- this can be a problem. OR if you were told general recommendations like “lose weight” or “exercise” these can leave you feeling lost, confused, and overwhelmed on where to even begin.

As an arthritis specialist, I have made it my life’s mission to find out the absolute BEST ways to help you manage your osteoarthritis without surgery or other risky procedures. You are more than just “bad joints”. Instead I view arthritis simply as an obstacle to get you closer to your goals.

So many people have gone through the ringer of:

  • meeting with different surgeons
  • failed physical therapy
  • frustration with pain management
  • attempting exercise programs that just lead to injury or more pain
  • failed dieting attempts
  • continued disappointment

But it is possible to break this vicious cycle with the right guidance. Through specific exercises directly tailored to osteoarthritis, inflammation focused diet changes, and exploration of other pain management options- an arthritis specialist can be much more effective at helping you finally learn how to thrive with osteoarthritis. 

Here at Keep the Adventure Alive, I strive to help bring people suffering with osteoarthritis from hopeless to hopeful. I have been able to do this through extensive experience and training on osteoarthritis and chronic pain specific training. 

Just as you see doctors that specialize in hearts, lungs, feet, neurological conditions, and other medical conditions- you deserve to see someone who specializes in arthritis too!

What you could be missing out on

An arthritis specialist can help you make confident decisions. The current healthcare system tends to favor short appointments, premature surgeries, and more injections. You need someone who is up to date on the research and can help you decide on the best course of action. Take a look at some of these shocking statistics.

In an article by the Arthritis Foundation they looked further into recent rising surgery rates for arthritis, particularly in knee replacements. Here is a direct quote from this article.

“According to a study of more than 2 million knee replacement patients presented at the 2014 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) meeting there was a:

  • 120% – Increase in knee replacements over a 10-year period.  
  • 89% – Increase in knee replacements among those aged 65 to 84. 
  • 188% – Increase in knee replacements for 45 to 64 year-olds”

Why are these rates increasing at such a drastic rate? What do these numbers mean? 

The rising rates could be attributed to an increase in the amount of people diagnosed with the condition due to our inflammatory-favoring culture. This is likely due to increased production of processed foods and the rise of technology leading to more sedentary behavior. People may also not be aware of other options that are available!

Surgery can be a big decision, one that can change your life significantly- for better or worse. Without all of the information on the potential risks and awareness of expectations after surgery, many could be making the wrong decision to fit their lifestyle.

I often hear from those that went through surgery weren’t aware of the magnitude of pain, the long recovery time, or the amount of work recovery would be. Others do very well! It’s all about making the right decision for you.

An arthritis specialist can help you find the best options to manage joint pain, decrease inflammation and keep your adventure alive! It’s important to find one that you trust to help you learn how to thrive with arthritis.

What can help your search for the right arthritis specialist

As mentioned above, the more you know about your arthritis, the easier it will be to find someone who can help you. Instead of weeding through all the information on the internet, I have gathered the top 5 things you need to know about arthritis before your next appointment.

You can download the Ultimate Arthritis Guide instantly down below. Prepare yourself for the next time you meet with a healthcare professional to make sure you are getting the right care!

Don’t sell yourself short by accepting subpar care when it comes to arthritis. Unfortunately arthritis isn’t going away, but you can absolutely learn how to manage the condition so you can enjoy life. Read about an inspiring patient story here.

You can absolutely do this. Having the right team behind you can be extremely powerful for this journey. If you are looking for a community of people to support you along the way, head over to our private facebook community HERE.

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.

bone on bone knee pain

11 Things to Avoid if You Have Bone on Bone Knee Pain

Are you feeling scared or overwhelmed with bone on bone knee pain? First, I want you to know that you are not alone in this. Secondly, I want you to know that there are things you can do to find arthritis pain relief. You do have options besides surgery in this scenario. It is extremely important that you take the right action to avoid further complications and worsening pain. Learn the 11 things you should avoid if you are experiencing bone on bone knee pain.

Keep the Adventure Alive is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Contrary to popular belief, a diagnosis of “bone on bone” doesn’t automatically bring pain. Our joints age just like our skin does. It is normal to have some breakdown and wearing of the tissues. Some can actually have joints that would be considered “bone on bone” without even knowing.

But I get it, you have pain and want answers! I don’t blame you. 

Pain comes when the bones get irritated. This typically happens with increased inflammation. Inflammation is tied to the foods we eat, the movements we do or don’t do, genetic predisposition, along with many other factors.

There is good news in this! If we can reduce the inflammation, we can dramatically reduce pain levels. We can do this in a variety of different ways, but these next 11 things are important things to avoid to increase chances of relief! 

Table of Contents

1. Avoid sitting for longer than 20 minutes

When bones are irritated, they don’t love being in the same position for a long time. Movement helps to move inflammation out of the joint and bring blood flow to the area. This helps to lubricate the joint. 

Staying in the same position for > 20 minutes can allow your knee joint to become very stiff as the inflammation settles. Your muscles likely remain relatively inactive when sitting so blood flow can also decrease to the joint too. 

Simple movement can help to significantly reduce stiffness accompanied also by decreased pain. Anything to keep your legs moving and in different positions can make a big difference! This video below can give you simple ideas to get started.

2. Avoid just focusing on the knee

When we have pain, we tend to look solely at the joint that hurts. Many times we find that pain can be coming from other joints! This is why some knee surgeries and procedures don’t end up relieving pain in the long term.

Our bodies are connected so it’s important to consider that with treatment. Your hips, ankles, and/or spine can be contributing to your knee pain. But if we just get an x-ray of our knee, that likely isn’t telling us the whole picture.

Working out and strengthening your other joints are just as important as getting your knee stronger! This is even more important when you have bone on bone knee pain. You need as much help from other muscles and joints as you can get. 

Unsure of where to start? I have you covered! Check out our Knee Arthritis Exercise PDF program here to get an easy to follow program detailing exercises that are nice to your knees!

3. Avoid inflammatory foods

Processed, unnatural foods are some of the most impactful to the levels of inflammation in your body. Food is extremely powerful when it comes to arthritic joint pain. 

The more inflammation we have in our bodies, the more susceptible our bones are to getting irritated. Quite often though, when getting diagnosed with bone on bone arthritis, you may be given some information on exercise but information about inflammatory foods is much more rare.

Making small and simple changes to your diet can reduce your pain levels. The kicker is, we have to be consistent in making healthier choices. That is why we typically recommend starting small because it is likely easier to maintain over the long run.

If you want to see my favorite list of anti-inflammatory foods recommended for arthritis sufferers, check it out here.

4. Avoid trying to do everything on your own

I know that asking for help can be hard but in some cases, it can be crucial to reduce bone on bone knee pain. 

Essentially, the main goal is to decrease irritation. If you are constantly irritating your joint by standing too much, walking too much, carrying heavy objects, etc. you are likely continuing to fuel the irritation. This delays pain relief.

Don’t get me wrong, activity can be very beneficial when dealing with arthriti. Overactivity is what we are trying to avoid. Having someone help with daily tasks and errands that tend to flare up your pain is definitely something to consider when you have higher levels of pain.

Remember, this doesn’t have to be permanent. If you are able to successfully reduce some of the inflammation, you will likely be able to return to these tasks! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

5. Avoid ruling out a cane or another walking device

If your bone on bone knee pain is severe enough or if your knee tends to give way frequently, you may notice you limp when you walk.

Oftentimes, people try to put off using a cane for as long as possible. The longer you limp though, the more irritation you create. You may also be putting your other joints at risk for pain because of the uneven forces you put through your joints.

When you walk, you want to be as symmetrical as possible- that’s what your joints like. If you are unable to walk without a limp, a cane or a walker if you are feeling unsteady, can be extremely helpful while you get stronger.

Walking devices can be temporary. I recently was working with a woman who had been using a cane for a few years because of knee arthritis. After a few weeks, she was able to get rid of it completely! She put in the work to become stronger and more confident so she no longer needed the support. Using it in the beginning did help to decrease joint irritation though. So don’t rule out these devices just yet!

6. Avoid overdoing it

Physical activity is great for arthritis but as we know, too much of a good thing can be detrimental. This is especially true when experiencing bone on bone knee pain. 

The best way to avoid overdoing it is to listen to your body and be aware of what your joint can tolerate.

If you experience pain after walking a certain distance, after a certain exercise, or after being on your feet for a certain period of time- take note of what that time or distance is. This can help you plan rest breaks and modify activities as you need to. 

Most times, we have to learn this the hard way. But once we do, the information can be valuable by preventing future pain flares. The video below describes what to look for to determine if you’ve overdone it.

 

7. Avoid relying on passive treatments

Passive treatments include most services or products that are done to you. Examples can include massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, medications, and injections.

Now, I am by no means saying these won’t help or you shouldn’t do them. But, trouble can come when we solely rely on these for our only source of pain relief. 

It is important to find an active approach as well. Medications, pain relief gels and lotions, braces, and massage can be a great supplement to an exercise program and appropriate diet. Using both together can help to maximize your results.

With bone on bone knee pain, it’s SO important to find ways you can use food and movement to find relief too. If you don’t, you could spend the rest of your life counting down the days until your next massage or injection. We don’t want that when there are other options!

8. Avoid putting a pillow underneath your knee

With knee arthritis, you may experience tightness in the front or the back of the knee. You may also begin to experience a loss of range of motion, usually the inability to fully straighten it. 

In order to regain extension or prevent losing further range of motion we have to spend some time with our knee straight.  Placing a pillow behind the knee when resting can contribute to decreased ability to straighten your leg, especially when sitting for long periods of time. 

Maintaining or regaining the ability to straighten your knee is very important as it can dramatically affect your walking. Trying to work to get your knee straight and avoiding keeping it in a semi-bent position can help you to keep your range of motion!

If you need ideas on how to get your knee straight, check out this video.

9. Avoid getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep

According to a study on the impact sleep has on pain, it was found that 

“...experimental and clinical data indicate that sleep deprivation lowers the pain threshold, lowers the cognitive ability to cope with pain, and increases ratings of pain intensity, which in turn exacerbates poor sleep"

Turk et al. 2016

Sleep is critical for our bodies to repair and recover, even more so with arthritis. With less than 7 hours of sleep, there are many potential consequences including, 

  • increased irritability
  • decreased motivation for exercise
  • higher susceptibility to eat unhealthy foods
  • higher levels of pain

…and many others.

I understand, sleep can be difficult when dealing with bone on bone knee pain. I would recommend trying to sleep with a pillow between your legs to keep your joints in a better position.

I was working with a woman who was having a burning sensation on the inside of her left knee that would wake her up at night, sometimes up to 2-3 times. After going through our one on one program that involved different exercises and diet changes, her pain at night had disappeared!

I want you to know that if you do have pain at night, there is hope that you can sleep peacefully again! Check out this video below for more tips on better sleep. 

10. Avoid unsupportive shoes

Shoes can make a big difference when it comes to bone one bone knee pain. The idea of supportive shoes is that when you are walking they absorb some of the force instead of transmitting all of it to your joints.

If your joints are already irritated and painful, more stress is not what we want. 

One of my favorite brands I recommend to all of my clients and even wear myself are called Kuru Footwear. They are specifically designed for those with arthritis, plantar fasciitis and other pains. I have a pair of the Chicane and the Atom that make my feet feel amazing.

Shoes are usually recommended to be replaced every year (maybe two if you don’t have too many miles on them!). Older shoes tend to lack support and structure they once had. If you’ve had a pair that you still wear for more than 1-2 years, it’s time to head to Kuru and get yourself a pair!

11. Avoid giving up

I want you to know that there is hope. You can do this.

It is possible to relieve your bone on bone knee pain and live a life that you love. Once you are able to find the best ways to decrease irritation, there are so many possibilities.

You do have options when it comes to finding relief. Many think that bone on bone is a one way ticket to surgery but that actually doesn’t have to be the case. Finding ways to decrease inflammation and avoiding these 10 things can get you on the right path! 

Don’t give up. You deserve a life that you love.

If you would like to get started today, download the FREE Ultimate Arthritis Guide right now! You will learn the information your doctors likely won’t tell you when it comes to managing arthritis pain naturally.

best protein for arthritis

How PROTEIN can be just as powerful as ibuprofen: 5 of the best ways to use protein for arthritis pain relief

We know that protein helps to build stronger muscles but did you know it is also anti-inflammatory? Scientists and nutrition experts have been looking into protein for arthritis and its benefits for years now. Research has shown that inadequate consumption of protein and it’s essential amino acids can actually lead to increased perceived level of pain! There are 3 essential amino acids that play an integral role in reducing inflammation and maintaining lean body mass (aka muscle)- these include endorphin, serotonin, and GABA. The best way to obtain these amino acids is to eat them in high protein foods! Let’s learn more about protein for arthritis below.

 “If arthritis symptoms are debilitating and activity is compromised, getting enough protein is essential to holding on to muscle mass and function,” says Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD, professor of aging and health at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for an article published by the Arthritis Foundation

Unfortunately a large number of the world’s population is not getting the right amount of protein. Let’s do some quick math to see if you are. Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.7. This number is approximately the number of grams of protein you should be consuming per day…

Many times, we think we are getting way more protein than we truly are. Take a look at the protein content of common foods according to Johns Hopkins

  • An egg has 6-8 grams of protein
  • Most greek yogurts have 12-18 grams of protein
  • A typical chicken breast (4oz) has about 30 grams of protein
  • A half cup of cottage cheese has about 14 grams of protein

The idea is, you may not be consuming as much protein as you think you have been. Quite a few of my clients have been shocked, thinking they were consuming an adequate amount of protein then adding up a typical day to find out they are way under the goal.

Let’s dive into WHY you should be eating more protein and the benefits to your arthritis pain! 

I promise, increasing your protein intake will not automatically make your biceps bigger or create huge muscles like in those bikini fitness shows. Instead protein can bring healing powers for arthritis pain relief, maintain stronger bones, and reduce inflammation! Learn the 5 reasons you should be eating protein for arthritis below: 

1. Protein prevents muscle wasting

Did you know that protein is responsible for maintaining and growing your muscles? Odds are you probably did. But did you know that without the right amount of protein, your muscles are at risk for getting weak, even if you are exercising?!

We hear time and time again that strength training can have amazing effects on arthritis pain. This is because the stronger your muscles are, the more force they are able to absorb, instead of your joint having to do all of the work. If you are strength training but not intaking enough protein, you may not be building muscle like you think you are.

Strength training is meant to cause very small micro tears in your muscles and then with recovery and nutrition, they are supposed to repair to a stronger state. Much of this repair is dependent on protein. 

Different researchers have dove into the effects of protein on muscle and one interesting study highlighted the true importance of protein when exercising.

"...a modest increase in dietary protein intake... combined with progressive resistance training [strength training] in a vitamin D-replete state has resulted in a greater increase in total body and regional lean tissue mass, muscle size and strength, and functional performance than with progressive resistance training alone in elderly women"

Perna et al, 2019

With the right amount of protein, you can have bigger and stronger muscles which in turn, can make your joints stronger and more resilient even as you age. Almost every client I see, one of their main objectives is to feel stronger and more confident on their painful joints. This is one of the best ways to find arthritis pain relief.

You can use protein for arthritis pain relief by building and repairing stronger muscles such as in the picture below from a research article by de Zwart et al 2018.

protein for arthritis

2. Protein can help make endorphins

Endorphins are a chemical in our bodies that help to make us feel good and relieve pain. Our bodies naturally produce endorphins with the right pieces. Protein is able to provide vital components needed to make these endorphins.  These vital components are called amino acids. Protein is made up of chains of amino acids, giving our body the right tools to begin creating them. 

Without the appropriate amino acids, we aren’t able to make as many! 

Just how powerful are endorphins?

In general, the release of endorphins is understood to be associated with the body’s response to pain and also exercise as associated with “runner’s high.” The pain relief experienced as a result of the release of endorphins has been determined to be greater than that of morphine. Additionally, endorphins have been found to be associated with states of pleasure including such emotions brought upon by laughter, love, sex, and even appetizing food” (Chaudhry 2020)

What do endorphins have to do with arthritis pain? 

Typical pain medications work by attaching to certain receptors leading to pain relief by mimicking natural endorphins. The more endorphins we can naturally produce, the less dependent we are on pain pills. Making sure our body has the appropriate building blocks when creating this chemical is important for maximum relief!

3. Protein helps with weight loss

Weight loss is an integral part when dealing with osteoarthritis pain. Protein is a very important part of this process as it keeps you fuller for a longer period of time. 

Many times, if your meal is primarily from carbohydrates (cereal, breads, pasta, etc) you likely will feel hungry a short time after eating. If, instead, you eat lean meat, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or even a protein bar- you usually can go longer without feeling like you need to eat again. 

This in turn can decrease the number of times you are snacking throughout the day and decreasing caloric intake.

Besides just the intake, as mentioned above, protein helps with lean muscle building and recovery. I heard this quote in a recent podcast episode from the Consistency Project where EC Synkowski went on to explain that “muscle tissue is expensive” meaning it takes a lot of calories to support it. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn.

If you have little muscle mass, you may have to eat less calories to lose weight compared to someone with a higher muscle mass because they are using more calories throughout the day.

Starting a strength training routine is your best bet to start building muscle no matter your age! Now, the younger you are, you likely will build muscle a little quicker but it’s never too late to start and you can still reap AMAZING benefits. 

What does weight loss and muscle mass have to do with arthritis? The less body fat you have, the less inflammation you will carry. This means your joints will be less irritated! Also the more lean muscle mass you have, the easier weight loss can become. Find out 14 other ways you can reduce inflammation here.

If you would love tips on how to get started with strength training with arthritis, here is a free webinar that has all of the basics you need to know! 

4. Protein can be anti-inflammatory

Most foods that are high in protein, likely are healthier and more quality food sources. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still some foods that are high in protein but may not be the most nutritious. For example, some protein bars and greek yogurts have just as as much fat and added sugar as some candy bars! 

But for the most part, a homemade protein smoothie, lean meats cooked at home, cottage cheese, beans cooked at home, and other higher protein foods are not as highly processed as foods high in carbohydrates and fats can be.

Many of these processed foods that are high in simple carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats can be inflammatory. Common culprits can be sugary foods and drinks, low fat, sugar free, and fat free options of foods, and foods that typically come in boxes with a long list of ingredients.

Focusing on protein can help to get more nutrients out of foods. We can’t lose sight though that just because it has protein in it, does not make it healthy. Natural foods that are typically found on the perimeter of the grocery store is a great place to start. 

Take a look at the ingredients. Try to consume at least a protein source at every meal (number of grams will be dependent on how many total grams you need throughout the day).

Protein for arthritis can be extremely powerful to drive down inflammation if we are focusing on the right things primarily including quality of food choices.

If you would like a list of the best anti-inflammatory foods, head to this post

5. Protein helps you age well

As we get older, some of our body processes become less efficient and the way our bodies handle protein is one of them. This is coined “anabolic resistance“.

According to an article on InForm: “Anabolic resistance means that the signals to build up muscle through strength training or eating protein is muted in older adults. Luckily, This resistance can be overcome with an increased amount of strength training or a higher intake of protein.”

A higher intake of protein ensures you still build muscle and prevent the loss of muscle mass you have. 

If you have osteoarthritis, you are at a higher risk to develop anabolic resistance due to the presence of inflammation and potentially decreased activity levels secondary to joint pain. 

Without the right amount of protein, you will continue to lose muscle mass. This can put you at risk for more arthritis pain and increased difficulty completing simple tasks.

Conclusion

Protein is extremely important as you get older but has even more importance if you have osteoarthritis. It can help you build muscle, find pain relief, lose weight, and age well! Making sure you get the appropriate amount of protein is vital to your success in keeping your adventure alive with arthritis. 

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.

References:

Chaudhry SR, Gossman W. Biochemistry, Endorphin. [Updated 2020 Aug 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470306/

Dragan S, Șerban MC, Damian G, Buleu F, Valcovici M, Christodorescu R. Dietary Patterns and Interventions to Alleviate Chronic Pain. Nutrients. 2020;12(9):2510. Published 2020 Aug 19. doi:10.3390/nu12092510

de Zwart AH, van der Leeden M, Roorda LD, et al. Dietary protein intake and upper leg muscle strength in subjects with knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative. Rheumatol Int. 2019;39(2):277-284. doi:10.1007/s00296-018-4223-x

Perna S, Alalwan TA, Al-Thawadi S, et al. Evidence-Based Role of Nutrients and Antioxidants for Chronic Pain Management in Musculoskeletal Frailty and Sarcopenia in Aging. Geriatrics (Basel). 2020;5(1):16. Published 2020 Mar 6. doi:10.3390/geriatrics5010016

knee pain during squats

Knee Pain During Squats: 5 Surprising Reasons To Explain Your Pain

Knee pain during squats is common among those with strength deficits, muscle asymmetries, balance impairments, and those with joint irritation. The good news is, almost all of these are able to be fixed and you will be able to squat again. We squat countless times per day and have been since the caveman era. It is NORMAL to be able to squat without pain. Here are the reasons why knee pain during squats is common.

Squats can be one of the most painful movements with knee osteoarthritis, general knee pain, or following a total joint replacement. But, squats are one of THE if not THE most important movement that we do during daily life. 

Most of our ancestors depended on the deep squat! Our bodies are meant to squat but why are we starting to develop pain with this movement? 

There are many reasons we have developed knee pain during squatting. I want to tell you some of the common reasons that I see when I am working with clients that have knee osteoarthritis or other types of knee pain.

Try this experiment

Stand up from where you are and try to do a squat, bend down and stand up how you usually would. 

Think about how it feels:

  • Do you have any pain?
  • Do you have difficulty squatting lower? 
  • Does it feel awkward or just not right?

Now, stand in front of a chair. Squat down to sit down and then stand back up. Does it feel any different? Does it feel better? 

For most of the people I do this with, the squat dramatically changes from when you have a chair behind you to when you are free squatting. If you watch the video below, look to see what bends FIRST- hips or knees.

The answer, the HIPS. When the knees bend first, they tend to take most of the load. This is one the of the most common problems I find when people have pain when squatting. Now try to squat again, think about bending the hips first NOT the knees.

Typically when people come to me with knee pain during squats, this is one of the first things I look at. This tends to be one of the most common problems that leads to joint pain, especially with increased knee bend.

This test can also be turned into an exercise and can be a great way to teach your body how to squat properly again. This can make a world of difference to knee osteoarthritis pain. 

Let’s look at the 4 other potential reasons you are having knee pain with squats…

Reason #2: Pain has control

Especially when dealing with knee arthritis, I see quite a few people that have pain with squats because they are expecting it. Now I know this sounds crazy but it’s true. 

If we are anticipating pain when we have to get in the car, bend down to sit on the toilet, or when we have to squat down to a chair- we will likely have pain. 

Don’t get me wrong, the pain is real when you have it. But sometimes we can further convince our bodies that the squat is a potentially dangerous movement if we expect pain every time we do it. If we think “Man, this is going to be painful” then our mind thinks that’s actually what we want to happen! 

Our words are very powerful. If you don’t believe me, I would highly recommend checking out the video below with Marisa Peer, a world renowned psychologist. She states: “First you make your beliefs, then your beliefs make you.”

If we start trying positive self talk, you may actually be shocked at the results. If each time you go to squat, you tell yourself some variation of “I can do this” you may start to notice you feel more confident in the movement.

Reason #3: You're stiff

“I just want to be able to squat like everyone else”, I hear this from clients all the time. When I bend down into a deep squat during a session, I hear “Man I wish I could do that”. 

In order to regain squat depth like in the cave man picture above, you have to make sure your joints are free to move how they should. Joint stiffness can alter your ability to squat. With stiffness being one of the leading symptoms of osteoarthritis (learn what the other 3 common symptoms are here!) your joints can be holding you back from getting down into a deeper squat. 

There are a few ways to release joint stiffness and regain mobility. The four main joints that limit squatting ability are typically knees, hips, ankles, and/or spine (upper and/or lower back).  This is why it is so important to look at all of these when figuring out where you need to work on most. I’ve heard physical therapists are great at this 🙂

If you are looking to get started, here is one video to help you find out if your ankle is actually the problem! 

Reason #4: Your hips could use some strength

In having knee pain with squats, the hips may have a part to play in this puzzle! During daily life, we tend to primarily work the muscles that help us walk forwards and stand up from a chair. Do you know what the prime muscles are that do those things? Your thigh muscles. 

The backs of our legs and glutes tend to get neglected a little more than we would like, especially if walking is your primary form of exercise. 

Variety in movement is crucial to keeping well-rounded, strong legs. When we play sports, do variable workout routines, or try different activities for exercise, we may get the variety that we need. In most cases, though, there is not enough variety. 

One of the recent clients I met with was very active playing pickleball, walking, occasionally running, and riding his bike. He started to develop knee pain though, particularly when he was running. Upon assessment, knee pain was prevalent during squats too. Taking a look at his training, it was primarily all in one direction, forwards.

It can be difficult to achieve this variety, especially when dealing with pain because we may be unsure if the exercises we are picking are good for our joints and this was the trap he was falling into.

We added some lateral movements to work the outside hip muscles and some other exercises to help strengthen the back of his legs. Knee pain during squats slowly started to go away once we were able to regain strength. This created a well rounded knee joint, getting support from all sides! 

Unsure of which exercises to start with? This exercise video shows just how simple it is to add in some of these varying directions and movements. All you need is one washcloth to complete it! 

Reason #5: you may be off balance

Now what does balance have anything to do with my knee pain with squats? Actually, way more than you think! Part of decreasing knee pain involves being comfortable shifting your weight backwards.

You might be surprised with your balance! Even if you aren’t falling over the place your balance may not be as great as you think. 

When you have appropriate balance, your muscles are all working together as a team. This team is successful when each muscle is doing its job. When we have pain, and/or a strength or mobility deficit, your team may start to experience some dysfunctions. These dysfunctions can then lead to increased joint pain because it alters how your joint accepts stress.

If your balance is better on one leg than the other or if you feel as though your balance is “off”, this could be contributing to your pain. 

To test your balance I want you to try this test. This is more than just standing on one leg. We have to be able to stand on one leg and move our bodies without losing our balance. 

This ultimate balance challenge can give highlight any potential balance deficits and asymmetries. Keep in mind, this is only one test. You can check out more balance exercises here!

If you notice balance impairments, one of the best thing you can do is add support to your squat! This can include squatting down to a box or a chair, squatting with a TRX band (this is my favorite brand of straps!), or hanging onto a kitchen counter. There are TONS of variations you can try. 

Conclusion

There are a few different reasons that could be contributing to your knee pain during squats. Commonly, pain originates from a combination of things and it is unlikely pain is coming from one singular thing- especially if you have started to experience gradual pain without any injury.

The quickest way to find out why you are having knee pain during squats is to find a physical therapist or movement specialist that can help you answer this very question! The longer you try to ignore this pain, it will likely get worse! 

If you are dealing with knee osteoarthritis and are looking for ways you can build stronger legs without having to worry about  if you are doing the right exercises, hop on over and grab the Knee Osteoarthritis Exercise Guide!

One of the most common things I hear is that people avoid exercise because they are in pain and not sure if what they are doing will cause more damage. Resting is one of the worst things you can do, especially for knee osteoarthritis. It’s time to take action and get control over your knee pain with squats.

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.

what is knee osteoarthritis

The Ultimate Guide to Knee Osteoarthritis: Where to start, what to expect, and more- The 5 BURNING questions

Knee Osteoarthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis, not wear and tear. There are so many misconceptions out but we are going to make it simple for you. The hardest part about a knee osteoarthritis diagnosis is not knowing where to go next and constantly worrying about if what you are doing is the right thing for pain relief. You will be able to answer: what is knee osteoarthritis, where do I start after a knee osteoarthritis diagnosis, and how do I best help my knee joints! 

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“Per the x-ray we just did, it appears you have knee osteoarthritis.”

“The next thing you need to do is lose weight and start exercising but you won’t ever really be able to stop the progression.”

“I’ll see you back in 6 months.”

Does this sound familiar?! 

I hope it doesn’t, but unfortunately, this is what many people have to go through when getting a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis. 

You go see your family doctor, rheumatologist, or other physician for your knee pain that has been gradually getting worse. Most often they will take an x-ray or even an MRI to rule out any major injuries or reasons for pain. 

They find some arthritic changes in your joint, loss of cartilage and loss of space in the joint itself which you’re told explains your pain. Osteoarthritis.

It can be both scary and overwhelming to hear that word. I’m sure you’ve heard or seen others struggling with this disease and it can be hard to imagine that now it is happening to you. 

The main mission of this ultimate guide is to give you hope. I want to answer your questions, give you the real information you need to know and  show you that your life isn’t over because you have knee osteoarthritis.

I have seen hundreds of people with knee osteoarthritis and have helped them truly understand the best ways to take care of their knees while still living an active, adventurous life.

You’ll learn stories of men and women who overcame knee osteoarthritis and are able to now do things like running, jumping, walking without a cane, and more. This could be possible for you to if you follow these next tips closely.

The keys to success with knee arthritis

Table of Contents

You will learn important steps you need to take in order to manage pain, prevent your knees from getting worse, and how to continue to lead an active life. Not only is it important to learn what these steps are but it is also important to implement them as well. Without action, your pain likely will continue to get worse and it could be a fast track to surgery. 

Make sure you save this post for later and share with your friends when you’re done reading because I promise you, this is your Ultimate Guide to Knee Osteoarthritis.

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?

I guarantee the first thing you will see when you type this question into Google is “deterioration of cartilage” or “degeneration of the joint from wear and tear” in almost every article on the first page. You may have even been told these things by medical professionals. 

The truth is, knee osteoarthritis is primarily driven by inflammation and there is emerging recent research out there looking at exactly that.

"The past decade has seen a gradual but fundamental shift in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying OA. We no longer view [osteoarthritis] as a prototypical degenerative disease resulting from normal bodily wear and tear, but rather as a multifactorial disorder in which low-grade, chronic inflammation has a central role"

Robinson et al. 2016

This is actually good news and I’ll explain why.

If osteoarthritis was a degenerative condition caused simply by “wear and tear” you would have no hope for pain relief and everyone that had knee osteoarthritis would end up needing surgery. Also, movement would continue to make the condition worse which is the opposite of what exactly is true. 

Knee osteoarthritis is caused by many different factors that can allow inflammation to become out of control. These factors, then contribute to the further irritation of your knee joints. 

There is a strong genetic component as well but if you are aware of what continues to irritate the joint, you can live with a tolerable level of knee arthritis and prevent it from getting worse. Even though many of us have a family history of the inherent susceptibility to more inflammatory cells, this also means your knee joint is “bad”. Instead, it is just, quite frankly, angry and we can use specific tactics to decrease the amplification of the anger!

Since osteoarthritis has a strong inflammatory background, if we can control the inflammation- we likely can control both the pain and the progression.

Where Do I Need to Start if I Have Been Diagnosed with Knee osteoarthritis?

From the previous section, we know that if we can control inflammation, we can lessen the irritation and our symptoms. In the video above, you will find some ideas to get you started on the path to reducing inflammation in your body. The FIRST step is understanding how you can most easily reduce inflammation from your life.

There are a few ways that are going to help decrease inflammation more significantly than others, so these should become your priorities. It is important to note that each person’s priorities are going to be different depending on how they live their lives. You essentially need to look at three categories and think about which one has the most room for improvement in your own life.

  1. Food: what you are eating, how much you are eating, and are you getting enough nutrients?
  2. Movement: what are you doing for exercise, how often, and how motivated you are when doing it.
  3. Emotion: are you constantly stressed, tired, frustrated, overworked, anxious or overwhelmed? Do you believe nothing can be done about your pain?

Each of these things can impact your levels of inflammation in your body.

If you find yourself eating out quite frequently, frequently binge on processed foods, or are not eating enough- these are all scenarios in which food should be a priority. Check out the best anti-inflammatory foods to get started with here.

If you find yourself avoiding exercise, getting <10 minutes per day of exercise, or if your only exercise is a monostructural movement such as walking, cycling, or running- exercise should be considered a priority. Learn more about how exercise can work wonders for osteoarthritis here.

If you find yourself constantly displaying the emotions above or if you are constantly living life on edge, your emotions could be increasing your inflammation levels.

This is one people commonly do not think about. Let’s look a little deeper into how emotions impact inflammation from Stacey Colino,  an award winning writer, specializing in health and psychology:

"Emotional inflammation refers to the psychological and emotional state of constantly being on edge, angst-ridden, hyper-reactive or hyper-vigilant, full of dread, or generally filled with a WTF!!! feeling about what’s happening in the world. But it does have physiological ripple effects because when you have cortisol coursing through your body 24/7, there’s an inflammatory cascade, where your blood flow and blood pressure increase, your muscles tense up, your heart rate and breathing rate shoot up, and so on."

Stacey Colino

In order to start turning your emotions and working on a positive mindset, this article puts things into perspective

Choosing one of these three items can truly help you get on the right path to long term pain relief. If we try to focus on and change everything at once, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Remember, one step at a time. 

What should I expect with knee osteoarthritis?

When you receive the diagnosis, it can be scary because the future seems unknown to you. You’re not sure what you are going to be feeling and doing years from now. 

The hard part in answering this question is that everyone has different experiences. The severity and impact on your life is highly dependent on how you live your life and your mindset about your osteoarthritis. The path and symptoms if we take action may be completely different than those who didn’t know other options were available. 

Common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are explained here.

You may experience all or just a few of the symptoms mentioned. Here are some other things, not explained in this article you should expect:

  • Discomfort with exercise and other movements like climbing stairs, especially when starting or with a new onset. This pain typically tends to stay around 0-4/10 and is totally normal.
  •  You may experience some swelling, especially after a lot of activity. The swelling should subside after a day or two.
  • You may notice short bouts of significant pain with a flare up. I have known people who had a flare up once a year and those that have them about 1-2 times per month. This is partially dependent on controlling inflammation, the weather outside (increased pain with changes in weather and cold weather). This pain typically lasts 24-72 hours usually followed by full recovery.
  • Appropriate control of inflammation can usually relieve pain up to 80-90%. There may be times where you experience increased pain but this increased pain is usually not significant. This is because most of the time we don’t see it as much of a threat with a positive mindset. 

I know exercise is good, what exercises are the best and which should I avoid?

This is a common question so you are not alone! The goal is to keep your knees happy without flaring them up. This is possible, contrary to popular belief! But the number one thing most people are lacking is…

Vareity.

Many times we are told by healthcare professionals, friends, neighbors, or family that all we can do with knee osteoarthritis is swim and walk. No jumping, no running, no high impact activities ever again. 

That is simply not the case for most people if you can master variety, your joints should be prepared to potentially handle these activities (again, it’s important to remember that everyone is different).

I recently was working with someone who finally returned to running for the first time in 5 years after dedicating herself to strengthening her body to prepare her joints for it! 

The key though, aside from variety is to strengthen not only your knees but other joints as well, particularly hips, ankles, and back/core. With these two principles you are so much more likely to succeed. 

You can add variety lots of different ways to help with your knee osteoarthritis. For example, adding in sideways and backwards movements before or after your walk can absolutely make a difference. If walking is your primary form of exercise, watch this video below to learn exactly how to relieve knee osteoarthritis pain or prevent it from getting worse by adding a few simple things.

Here is a bonus article about how to hike with arthritic knees too! 

If you want to get started on the right foot with exercise, adding in exercises like side stepping, supported squats, and backwards kicks can be a great start. The idea is to find exercises and exercise variations that don’t flare up pain. If you are new to exercise, try this video below to get started. If you love this, we have a 5 day arthritis-friendly challenge that you’ll also LOVE. Sign up here.

What should I look for in my knee osteoarthritis x-ray?

To be quite frank, x-rays don’t really matter. Whenever I see a client for knee osteoarthritis, I usually do not even look at the x-ray. Findings on x-rays like loss of cartilage and loss of joint space don’t necessarily correlate with pain and there has been a lot of research on that. 

For example, one study found that “The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis features on MRI in otherwise healthy, asymptomatic, uninjured knees is high— up to 43% in adults aged ≥40 years.” This means that there are people walking around out there that would have changes on their MRI similar to those found in patients with knee arthritis but they don’t have pain. 

So the question is, why do some have pain and others don’t with the same “joint damage”. This is where inflammation, lifestyle factors, and genetics comes in. The more inflammation we have, the more likely we are to have pain. 

Instead of focusing and tediously looking into our x-rays, instead we should look at why we are in pain compared to someone who may have an x-ray that looks similar to ours. The findings on our x-rays may show normal signs of aging and this may not be the reason we are in pain.

For example, one woman who I have been working with had an x-ray that showed a minor meniscus injury and beginnings of knee arthritis due to lessening of the cartilage and narrowing of the joint space. A surgeon wanted to schedule surgery almost immediately but instead she went the natural route and now guess what….she’s the one RUNNING again. 

X-rays are not what we should base our thinking on, even if it is “bone on bone” or the “worst we have ever seen” (trust me if I had a dime for every time I heard that a client was told their knee was the “worst they have ever seen and they have no idea how you are even walking”, I’d be on a beach somewhere living in the Virgin Islands.

What does my future look like?

It is possible for your pain to become tolerable and plateau. Knee osteoarthritis pain does not have to progress. You’re pain doesn’t have to get worse if you can find ways to outsmart it.

Mindset plays a huge role in this. If you sit back and think, “there is just nothing I can do about this knee osteoarthritis pain, it runs in my family” then you need to hear this.

All too often we succumb to our arthritis pain because we simply don’t know that there are options available to us for pain relief. We also continue to believe that the long list of things that we think we can’t do has to dictate our lives.

There are options for pain relief and possibilities are out there, even if you have knee osteoarthritis! Understanding your osteoarthritis, learning how to manage it, and having a positive mindset are absolutely the most important keys to success when finding relief.

If you would love to join a supportive community of people 50+ who have arthritis but are looking to remain active and healthy, come join us! 

What about stem cells for arthritis pain relief?

Stem cells for arthritis pain relief is a common option people find when searching for treatments that are available. Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy can be an alternative to surgery with less risk as they accelerate your body’s own healing process in a noninvasive way. 

There are considerations to be made when it comes to considering if stem cell therapy is the right choice for you. A few of these considerations include: 

  • this procedure is not typically covered by insurance providers and can be pricey
  • you may need to go in for more than one procedure
  • similar to cortisone shots, results are not guaranteed
  • this option carries much less risk compared to other surgical procedures
  • there has been great success for select patients
  • leading an active, healthy lifestyle will maximize your results including exercise, weight loss, and proper nutrition

So what is stem cell therapy like? What can I expect?

You can expect short, non-invasive procedures like having blood drawn. Once the harvesting is done, the physician will often use an ultrasound or fluoroscopy to precisely target and inject the stem cells into the injured area. You may experience some pain and swelling right after the procedure. Depending on the severity of your condition and the procedure done, you may recover within as little as 1-2 days. More severe problems will require more significant procedures and longer recovery. Many patients experience results within a few weeks and continue to see the improvement until about four months.

Joe Albano, MD and regenerative medicine specialist in Cottonwood Heights, UT

For more information, check out a very informative interview I did with Dr. Albano to answer your questions regarding stem cell therapy, PRP injections and more!

Are you believing myths about knee osteoarthritis?

One of the biggest problems we find when asking people about their knee pain is that they are believing the wrong things! When we believe these myths to be true, that’s when we can find ourselves in trouble. They can actually be making our pain WORSE.

Here’s the deal: Understanding the truths about knee pain can set you free. There are 3 main myths we find almost everyone believes. Want to see if you have been believing the wrong things, inevitably making your pain worse? Download our free guide below! 

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.

exercise for degenerative disc disease

Exercise for Degenerative Disc Disease: The 11 BEST Exercises to FINALLY Unlock PAIN RELIEF

Contrary to popular belief, exercise for degenerative disc disease is one of the most efficient ways to reduce pain. The first thing we typically give up when we have pain is movement which is detrimental to our health. Exercise helps to increase the strength and resiliency of the discs between our vertebrae (bones in our spine). It also helps build muscle to support the spine. It is important to know that some exercises are better than others when it comes to degenerative disc disease and it is crucial to know where to start if you want pain relief!

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If you were asked the question: “If your back pain was gone tomorrow, what is the first thing you would do?” what would be your answer? 

I asked this question to a large group of people dealing with degenerative disc disease and got a variety of answers, some of which you might be able to relate to! Here are some of the answers that were given:

  • hiking
  • playing with grandchildren
  • running with dogs
  • deep cleaning the house
  • go for a nice, long walk
  • get through the work day pain-free
  • jump on the trampoline
  • ride horses
  • finally feel free again, live like there is no tomorrow without restrictions
Now think of the one thing you would like to and hear me out.

Learn the possibilities

When looking back at these answers it makes me wonder, where did our medical model go wrong with degenerative disc disease? Most of these people are left thinking they will never be able to do these activities without pain; even simple activities like walking and cleaning the house! 

Degenerative disc disease doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It doesn’t have to force you to live your life from the couch. But many of us don’t realize that it is an option to return to hiking, or walking, or even running! The quote below gives you a hopeful and optimistic perspective to get you thinking of the possibilities.

Despite what the name suggests, degenerative disc disease is not a disease, but a condition in which natural, age-related wear-and-tear on a disc causes pain, instability, and other symptoms. This condition usually does not result in long-term disability, and most cases can be managed using non-surgical treatment methods.

Brian McHugh, MD

Now that we have cleared that up, let’s chat about what we can do about this pain! This is why I want to show you how to exercise for degenerative disc disease. If we totally give up exercise or if we start with the wrong type of exercise, you could easily end up with more pain. BUT if you find the right type of exercise and build the confidence you need, you can thrive

If you would like to know what you should avoid, check out this post first.

Exercise for Degenerative disc disease: the top 11

When looking through these, it is important to remember that not every exercise may work for you and that is totally normal. Each person is different. When completing these, they should not cause more pain above a low level discomfort. If you experience pain >5/10, your body is telling you it isn’t ready for it yet.

Discomfort is normal and expected when starting a new exercise program. Likely with more reps the pain will go away or it will stay the same. If pain increases significantly, it’s okay! Simply stop and choose a new exercise. There are thousands of exercises to choose from.

In my years of experience, I have found these exercises to be more beneficial than stretches for back pain. The more dynamic the movement, the more muscle memory your body can gain, leading to longer term pain relief.

Here we go! 

Table of Contents

1. Raised, supported plank with marches

One of the most important things to prioritize is to build your core strength and stamina to be able to better protect your spine. The TRX bodyweight suspension bands are one of our favorite ways to add the right amount of support to exercise. This can avoid flaring up your pain.

You will be pushing through your shoulders and keeping your hips level while you alternate the marches. The higher you bring your legs up, the harder the exercise will be. Start with holding for 15 seconds and progress to 60 seconds as able. 

If you don’t have a set of these awesome straps and you would like to get rid of your degenerative disc disease pain at home, snag a set here

2. Thoracic rotation

No matter where you degenerative disc disease is at the moment, your upper back will likely affect it. For example, if you have cervical degenerative disc disease leading to neck pain, your upper back plays an integral part in the ability to find relief. Same goes with lower back pain. 

This exercise offers an easy way to open up the upper spine. It typically gets stiff when we sit to long, especially in a not-so-great posture. When doing this exercise, you want both sides to feel the same. If you are tighter on one side compared to the other, it likely is contributing to your pain in one way or the other. Complete 8-10 reps on the tighter side.

If both feel similar in range of motion, you can complete 8 reps on each side.

3. Lateral steps bodyweight

In daily life, we don’t find ourselves moving sideways very often. The problem with this is that the muscles that are responsible for lateral movement in the hips become weakened. This can then lead to more back pain.

The idea is to incorporate more lateral movements into your day and give those muscles some love! This is the basic movement you must master if you have back pain related to degenerative disc disease.

If you have a hard time, you can use support of a kitchen counter as well. We want to make sure you aren’t limping while doing this as again, you may have more difficulty on one side than the other. Complete at least 15-20 reps each side or until you begin to feel it in the outsides of your hips. 

4. Lateral banded stepping

Taking the above exercise one step further, grab a resistance band and try the lateral steps again. You want to aim for accumulating at least 20-30 total steps at a time, alternating directions. 

If you don’t have a set of resistance bands, grab some here (they are TOTALLY worth it). 

5. Supine isometric hip flexion

This is a great exercise for degenerative disc disease because often with back pain, your hips can become very tight. 

Instead of stretching these hip flexor muscles, you will gain so much more out of contracting and relaxing the muscles instead! Try this exercise below, 5-8 reps on both sides, holding for at least 5 seconds.

6. Standing isometric hip flexion

Taking the above exercise and increasing the difficulty, grab a resistance band and give this a try. The standing isometric hip flexor exercise is great once you have mastered the above exercise without exacerbating hip or back pain.

Your hips are directly tied into how your spine moves so it is important to make sure your hips are healthy.

Start with a lighter resistance band and progress as you are able to control the movement. Hang onto something for support if needed as balance should not be the limiter for this exercise. Hold for 3-5 seconds for each rep, up to 5-10 reps.

7. Prone back extension

Strengthening your back muscles can be great for your spine, if you can tolerate this position. Only go up as far as you can. Lift up your arms, try to lift your chest off of the ground, and slowly come back down.

Complete up to 5-10 reps, until you feel fatigue in your back muscles. The stronger your muscles are, the more supported your spine will feel! 

8. Supported TRX chair squat

The TRX straps are back and can be extremely helpful when attempting to squat without pain. The best way to go about squatting is to lead with your hips. Keep your weight in your heels and your chest up. 

Complete 10-15 reps or until you feel fatigue in your thighs and hips. To progress in difficulty, complete the chair squat without the TRX straps.

If you want to know more exercises to  do with the TRX straps, check out this article here.

9. Banded wall walks

Posture is another key aspect to relieving pain related to degenerative disc disease. The stronger your shoulders are, the better your upper back and neck will feel! 

Start with a lighter resistance band and walk your hands up as far as is comfortable. Keep pressure on the outsides of the band.

Complete 4-8 reps, up and down the wall, or until you feel shoulder and upper back fatigue. 

10. Side plank

We love this variation for the side plank because it is doable even with degenerative disc disease. Building strong obliques (your side ab muscles) can be extremely important when relieving back pain.

You can use the stairs, a couch, a bed, or another raised surface to complete this side plank. Try to hold for 15-30 seconds at a time. Keep your hips lifted up as high as you can throughout this movement.

11. Balance band pass

Balance is essential to keeping your hips and knees healthy. If you don’t feel confident in your balance, this exercise is for you! 

Use a resistance band or any other household object and pass it back and forth. It is important to master the position of one foot in front of the other but it is crucial to be able to maintain your balance when moving.

Try to hold for at least 30 seconds on each side.

Are you ready to start exercise for degenerative disc disease?

These are the top 11 exercises for degenerative disc disease and are a great place to start to improve leg strength, postural strength, and core strength to help your spine feel more support! 

Start gradually and increase difficulty as you are able. Again, discomfort is normal to experience especially when beginning but significant pain is a warning sign from your body that you’re doing too much. 

You want to aim to workout at least 10-15 minutes per day for at least 3-4 days when beginning, progressing to 5 days a week. 

Beginning exercise is one of the first steps but understanding what degenerative disc disease can be pivotal in your journey to finding pain relief. Degenerative disc disease can mimic the typical signs of osteoarthritis. We have a FREE Ultimate Arthritis Guide will tell you EXACTLY what you need to know about arthritis. 

The more you understand about arthritis, the quicker you will experience pain relief. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Your adventure is waiting, it’s time to revive it. 

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.

arthritis must haves

TOP 11 Arthritis MUST HAVES if you are looking for pain relief

Gathered from those dealing with arthritis pain, here is a list of the arthritis must haves that you need if you are looking for joint pain relief. What if you could build a toolbox to help you confidently navigate your arthritis pain? What if you had options during your flare ups and when stiffness becomes relentless? This list is made for you. Check out these top 15 arthritis must haves and start building your toolbox! 

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Build your toolbox, build your confidence.

The more options you have, the more confiendent you will feel about your pain relief.

I met Debbie* a while back and she was dealing with unrelenting knee and hip pain. The worst was when she experienced flare-ups. She felt hopeless every time she went through one because her pain just wouldn’t go away.

When we met, she was desperate for answers and desperate to get out of pain without having surgery. I asked her what her plan was each time she had a flare up. She said “try to get through the day”. 

When we met, she was desperate for answers and desperate to get out of pain without having surgery. I asked her what her plan was each time she had a flare up. She said “try to get through the day”. 

What she didn’t realize is that she had options. She had tried searching online but was so overwhelmed. There were so many different products, supplements, medications, etc. She didn’t even know where to start. She tried a few things but nothing worked for her. She was continually disappointed because these products would work maybe for a week, then her pain would come back. 

She sought us out for help and for guidance. She just wanted someone to tell her a way that works. She wanted to stop failing with pain relief. She wanted something that worked.

Now, she has a cheat sheet. Now, she knows exactly what to do for pain relief. When she has a flare up, she knows how to break free from the pain confidently. She knows what works. 

What if you could experience the same results? What if you had your own cheat sheet? We will tell you that no one has the same cheat sheet. 

In this post we want to help you start building your own cheat sheet by giving you the top 10 arthritis must haves that have worked for our clients previously and could work for you too! 

TOP 11 Arthritis Must Haves List

Arthritis Must-Haves #1: 

Voltaren: This topical cream can bring you pain relief by rubbing it on each of the affected areas. Our arthritis adventurers have told us that it has brought temporary pain relief to knees, hands, and lower backs. 

It works best if you are planning on walking longer distances or being on your feet for longer periods of time. It can help you get through the activity without being distracted by pain.

It can also help with recovery after a day of overactivity or even during a flare up. You rub the lotion on the affected area and experience pain relief through a cooling sensation, similar to a Biofreeze or other topical ointment like 4jointz (you can see my video review here). 

We like this product because it’s a topical medication and has very limited side effects. The most adverse being a skin reaction or rash. 

It is great to have this cream in your pain relief tool box because if you are in a pinch and need some quick relief, this can help. The one thing it likely won’t help with is stiffness. If joint stiffness is your biggest problem keep scrolling! 

Arthritis Must-Haves #2: 

Resistance loops: If you know us, you know that we put a high value on movement and strengthening in order to find arthritis relief. If you can show your body it can move confidently and pain free, you have opened the door to living successfully with arthritis. 

These resistance loops are very inexpensive and are versatile. There are many beneficial exercises you can do with these no matter the type of arthritis. Whether you are having shoulder pain, low back pain, hip pain, knee pain, or ankle pain these loops can bring you pain relief with a consistent exercise routine. 

Keep in mind, you likely will not get immediate relief but you will get lasting relief. Allowing yourself 10-15 minutes per day to show your body how it is supposed to be moving can be a game changer for your pain. You can have this arthritis must have for less that $20! 

Here are some introductory videos if you are thinking “Okay, these bands are great but what the heck do I do with them?!” We got you covered. 

Arthritis Must Haves #3:

Compression can make painful joints feel good, like really good. Think about how you feel when you get a hug (from someone you want to be hugging you). You feel good! 

Think of compression as giving your joint a hug. It just so happens that the sensors in your body that sense pain are the same ones that sense compression. By giving our joints compression, we dull some or most of the pain. 

There are a variety of different types depending on where your pain primarily resides. There are compression socks, compression knee sleeves, compression hip sleeves, compression gloves and compression back braces. 

We usually recommend getting a compression sleeve or brace without any hard pieces in it. Especially for the knee, there are braces that contain hard plastic pieces. These tend to alter movement and may not be the right movements for you and your pain. The only caveat to this is if you were prescribed one of these braces or if you have tried compression sleeves before with no luck for pain relief. 

These are relatively inexpensive and might be worth splurging an extra $20-30 to get a quality product. There are lots of cheaper options that may not provide enough support. 

These are great in 3 scenarios. 

One, if you are planning lots of activity- walking, running, weight lifting, etc these can feel really nice and prevent swelling along with pain. 

Two, when it’s cold out, they can help keep joints warm which can make a drastic difference to pain. This can also help in the morning, for example when your hand feel very stiff or cold in the winter months.

Three, they can help manage stiffness and swelling because the compression sleeve will only allow a certain amount of fluid to collect (this is why many wear those tall compression stockings after surgery or when on their feet for a long time to prevent gravity from pulling too much fluid down to the ankles). 

For less than $50, they are absolutely worth a try and are at the top of our arthritis must haves list.

Arthritis must-haves #4: 

Appropriate footwear: Shoes can play a huge part in how your joint feels the stress from walking, running, exercising, etc. Without the right support or in absence of support with older, worn out shoes- your joints are likely taking more force than they should. Over time, this can contribute to increased pain. 

We met a brand recently that we fell in love with. Dr. Alyssa Kuhn wears their shoes almost every day. One of our clients is also a proud supporter of the local Salt Lake City brand, Kuru Footwear. These shoes were designed to give you the right amount of arch support and even help with plantar fasciitis prevention which can be common with knee or foot arthritis. 

“I used to deal with bouts of plantar fasciitis every couple of years but since I began wearing these shoes, I haven’t dealt with any pain. This is even when I have tried lots of new exercises and almost doubled the time I have been exercising. I am so thankful.” 

These shoes come in a variety of styles and are available for both men and women. 

If you are struggling with finding the right shoe for you or if you have had your current shoes for longer than 1 year (depending on how many steps you put on them), we stand behind this brand. Finding a good pair of shoes can truly be a game changer to your pain levels, especially when you feel like you have tried everything else. 

 

Arthritis must haves #5:

Kettlebell: If you have arthritis it is crucial that you have options for exercise. If you have been following us, you likely know just how important exercise is. If you are new to us, read this blog post about WHY exercise is beneficial. 

Instead of having a ton of different sets of dumbbells, instead 1 or 2 kettlebells can be extremely effective. Kettlebells are versatile and offer lots of options for training no matter your fitness level or your pain severity. 

These allow you to add external weight once you have mastered bodyweight movements to take your strengthening to the next level. This is more than just how much weight you can lift though. 

If you can start adding external weight to these movements without pain, you can do so much more. For example, completing weighted squats can translate to climbing stairs without pain, picking a laundry basket up from the floor, and squatting down to play with your grandchildren with the ability to get back up! 

Kettlebells can give us confidence. Take it from one of our hardest working clients. He went from the inability to do a squat without significant knee and back pain to doing one with a 25# kettlebell 30 times without pain! Now he climbs stairs without pain and can actually enjoy hiking with his family- up and down the inclines. 

If you are looking for ideas on where to start with a kettlebell, we have a great introductory video. If you are familiar and are looking for some new exercises, we have the perfect 3 part series for you!  

 

Arthritis must haves #6:

Red light therapy: According to our private Facebook community, red light therapy may be the missing link to your pain relief. It is starting to gain traction in the arthritis world. You essentially use a special red light on your painful joints for 10-15 minutes at a time for a few times per day.

Take it from an arthritis sufferer herself:

It is important to understand that this light alone may not bring you pain relief. As she describes above, she used it in supplement to physical therapy for the best results. It’s one of those things that can bring serious relief to some and may not be as effective for others.

“When infrared heat hits the targeted area, the warmth opens up the capillaries, improves the circulation, which It’s effective for temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain.”

Here is the one that she recommends!

Vanessa, an arthritis sufferer said, “I had problem with my knee swelling and “slipping” because of a muscular imbalance from a foot surgery and the tendlite offered immediate pain relief. I don’t use my light any more because physical therapy helped immensely with pain relief. But if I ever have pain,I use the light and it works. My physical therapist says it has different results for various people but for me it worked.

When I was in extreme pain, I followed the guidelines and did it 2 times a day 3 times per part- it’s a small light and to do one knee it was 2 cycles on top, above and below patella, both sides of patella, and the back of knee. After one day I felt great and I kept doing the treatment for a few weeks. I was also in PT so as I grew stronger, the pain lessened. I don’t use it as often but sometimes my knees get aggravated if I stand and walk around all day. I do it after and in conjunction with rest it works.”

Arthritis must haves #7:

Tumeric supplements have benefits for osteoarthritis pain by tackling and preventing inflammation. Many people have been able to find joint pain relief using this supplement, but again keep in mind that everyone is different. It is another option to have in your tool box, especially if it brings great results for you. 

According to arthritis.org, “In 2016, an industry-sponsored systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that 1,000 mg a day of curcumin reduced OA [Osteoarthritis] pain and inflammation as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like diclofenac and ibuprofen. Another 2016 study suggests curcumin might help prevent bone breakdown in people with RA [Rheumatoid Arthritis].”

It’s important to talk to your physician before beginning Tumeric or another supplement, especially if you are taking blood thinners.

Arthritis must haves #8:

Heating pad: Have you ever thought, “wow my heating pad is my best friend through this” or “I don’t know what I would do without my heating pad”? Maybe you don’t own a heating pad if you haven’t 🙂

I hear this from clients all the time that heat can be a life saver especially during painful flare ups. Heat is one of those things that has almost zero side effects (besides potential for burning skin if on for too long- which is why we don’t recommend sleeping with one on).

Heat can bring some serious relief. The idea is that heat helps to induce relaxation. It creates more blood flow to the painful area and reduces joint pain and stiffness. Heat is great in the morning, at night after a long day, or during periods of time you just can’t get rid of pain.

There’s not necessarily a specific time that you should use it for but it’s usually around the 20-30 minute mark. This also heavily depends on how hot it gets. If you have it on a low setting you can typically keep it on for longer.

Arthritis must haves #9:

Jar opener: this recommendation is for those who are having trouble with hand pain or stiffness. This jar opener comes recommended by one of our friends who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.

Have you ever avoided eating something or using something because you got so frustrated with the jar?? 

Especially if you have difficulty using your hands because of pain and/or stiffness, jars can be a nightmare. This tool can make it easy to open a variety of jars and can ease frustrations! 

Arthritis must haves #10:

TENS unit: This can be especially helpful for lower back pain and degenerative disc disease. If your back regularly feels tight, a TENs unit can help to give you some relief.

You attach electrode patches to specific parts on your back that encompass the painful area. It is then usually set to a lower setting which creates small muscle contractions in the area underneath. Pain relief is created when your muscles contract and relax which helps to reduce tension.

Again, the side effects are minimal as long as you read the instructions, especially if you are doing it yourself! Check out this one here.

We recommend trying TENs units if you are have difficulty with pain control and relieving joint stiffness. If you are standing or sitting for longer periods of time because of work or some other task where getting up or changing positions is difficult, you may benefit from one of these! 

For better, longer lasting results, make sure you accompany this TENs unit with a proper exercise program. You may find yourself on a hamster wheel of temporary pain relief if not. If you would like some direction on the best way t accomplish this, let us know by scheduling a free call here.

Arthritis Must Haves #11: 

CBD Hemp Oil: CBD oil has been a new emerging way people are finding pain relief. There are many different brands and ways to apply whether its an oil, topical rub, or tablet. 

The idea is that not only can it reduce actual joint pain but it can also reduce anxiety and stress related to chronic pain. It can also help with memory and relaxation. There are many proposed benefits, but again, it does not work for everyone. 

In our opinion, after you speak with your physician, it’s worth a try to see if you are able to reap any of the benefits. Many have said it helps with pain and during/after activity to prevent pain flares. 

Conclusion:

There are many things out there have potential to ease your pain, stress, and stiffness related to osteoarthritis. This list has been vetted by our clients and supporters to help bring you the best list of arthritis must haves. Most of these tools work best when accompanied with an appropriate exercise routine and appropriate diet. Read this blog to find out more about the direct benefits of exercise along with how to best build an arthritis-friendly home gym for less than $200

If you would like more information about the BEST anti-inflammatory foods, we have created a FREE download for you to make it easy to see which foods you should be eating! Download it below. 

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 article contains affiliate links that bring us a small commission without any extra cost to you. 

physical therapy for osteoarthritis

Why You Need A BETTER Approach to Physical Therapy for Osteoarthritis 2021

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis can be extremely effective with the right approach. Research shows “…participation in an exercise and education intervention while on the waiting list for TKA (total knee arthroplasty) may cause some patients with end-stage OA (osteoarthritis) to gain sufficient control over the pain so that they no longer feel they need surgery” Commonly, people fail with traditional physical therapy without understanding why they are doing what they are prescribed and the level of importance related to reducing arthritis pain. You could be missing out on significant pain relief and you could even avoid premature surgery! Let’s look what you could gain from a better, more detailed approach.

It’s time to look at physical therapy for osteoarthritis in a different light. Instead of just “fixing your pain” let’s change your life.

When you think of physical therapy, what are your initial thoughts? 

  • fixing pain with exercises
  • somewhere I go when I get hurt
  • helping athletes getting back to sport

Sound familiar? Many people have a perception that you go to physical therapy once you are injured to get better. Instead, getting ahead of pain, especially in a condition such as osteoarthritis can be a matter of requiring surgery or not. It can be a matter of being able to keep up with your grandkids or not. It can be a matter of keeping your adventure alive or living your life from the couch.

You need much more than movement to heal. You need support, you need guidance, you need confidence. This doesn’t all come from movement. As a physical therapist, we can offer so much more than that. Take a look at these comments from real patients:

  • “Thank you for all of your hard work and especially your emotional support…this has been a very difficult road for me to travel. You were a gift to me, thank you soooo much!”
  • “I have had shoulder pain for so many years from working in the factory I never thought it was ever going away. Everything has been so hard on me, especially living alone. You’re the first person to actually listen. I never thought my shoulder could ever feel this good again, ever”.
  • “I cannot thank you enough for finally giving me the confidence to go to church again and see all of my friends I haven’t seen in ages. I used to be so fearful due to pain but now I can finally enjoy myself again, and I even like to exercise again!”

Life is hard. Pain is frustrating. Illness can be emotional. We need so much more than just exercise.

Many times I hear from people that when they go for traditional medical care whether its a hospital, office setting, emergency room, etc. that they are able to see someone face to face let alone get answers to their questions. People are usually only able to see physicians for very short periods of time, 5-10 minutes if you’re lucky. 

In that short time, there is no way anyone is going to be able to learn about you. They might learn about your condition, but not about you. They don’t have time to learn about what you really want, what your pain is really stopping you from doing.

When this occurs, patients usually end up scouring Google, asking friends/family, and spending tons of money on things that only lead to temporary relief. This is where the problem lies. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. This is why we have made it our mission to give a research-based, highly skilled way to get proper information about osteoarthritis.

Once we begin down the rabbit hole of misinformation, beliefs can trigger more pain, more stress, and feelings of hopelessness. This then leads to surgeries done way too early and dependency on pain medications.

What if instead, you could break this cycle and actually prevent surgeries? With a new approach to physical therapy for osteoarthritis we totally can.

There is hope for osteoarthritis sufferers, you just have to be connected with the right health professionals to realize it.

Let’s take this patient example.

Here we will see the vital role that physical therapy can play when approached from a different angle. This is a real patient of mine (name excluded).

She had chronic knee pain for “a long time”, had a history of a car accident which led to a long road of repeated back surgeries, pain, and depression. Always in constant pain. Nothing worked. She was tossed around from different medical professionals with no answers and no results.

We completed a movement assessment and did all of our typical physical therapy things. Then, we just talked. She shared her story. What stood out to me was her constant stress fueled by frustrations around her pain. She had given up on regular movement and exercise and adopted an inflammatory diet that had led her down a spiraling path of weight gain, poor movement, and emotional distress.

None of her physicians or surgeons had ever asked her how the pain was impacting her life, what the pain was stopping her from, or what she wanted to get out of pain for.

Instead, physical therapists have the ability to go in deeper. We can ask these questions aside from your pain levels. With this new approach, we no longer are seeing 3 patients at once. Think about it. What do you actually like, what do you hate, what motivates you most? What would your life really look like if you didn’t have to worry about pain all the time? How would you feel? 

Understanding these questions helps to create a better plan. Instead of just going through the motions, we not can help you get out of pain but also to stay out of pain.

The story continues…

We came up with a plan.  Getting her knee better meant seeing her grandchildren more, being able to take care of them. Going to the grocery store herself without needing someone to go with her to help carry the groceries inside. Planning a new family vacation as she could finally walk through the airport and enjoy walking on the beach again.

These goals were motivating enough for her to set aside a few minutes a day to complete the exercises that would heal her knee more efficiently. We also made walking one of her primary exercises as she loved walking around the block to see her neighbors, used it as social time- which helped her do it more often.

Guess what? Now her knee is better than it ever has been before. She was motivated, confident, and ready to plan that vacation. Stress levels were down, she was sleeping better, feeling better for the first time in YEARS.

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis is more than just giving exercises to treat you when you get hurt.

Here at Keep the Adventure Alive, we have the time to get to know you, understand your fears, what keeps you up at night, what stresses you out. If we don’t find these things, pain won’t go away. Unfortunately, most traditional physical therapy clinics don’t have the time and instead your pain will be masked by medication and massage, and likely will just keep coming back. 

We are so passionate about giving people their life back. It’s more than just getting rid of pain. It’s being able to travel with family again, being able to go up and down stairs in your own home without pain. It’s taking that long hike that you have always wanted to do. It’s seeing your friends more often. Those things are so much more important. What would getting rid of pain help you do?

Say to yourself today, “I am done dealing with this pain and I want my life back”. Commit to it.

And say it again.

Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have to deal with constant pain.

Once you’re committed, let us guide you on your journey of freeing yourself from the burden of pain and lead a life you want. We can do this together.

Physical therapy is more than just treating your injury with a few exercises. So stop waiting! Let’s make the leap today.

The next step is to schedule a free call with Dr. Alyssa Kuhn where she learns more about you and your goals. Keep the Adventure Alive has a variety of program options and we want to make sure you are on the right path to success.

Learn more about us on our instagram here:

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.

back of knee pain

5 Things You Need to Know About A Baker’s Cyst Behind the Knee

A baker’s cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a fluid filled sac that forms behind the knee that is commonly seen in those that have knee osteoarthritis. This is likely because with knee osteoarthritis there is a disturbance in the knee mechanics by the lack of muscular support which can cause an increase in production of fluid in the joint. This leads to a baker’s cyst which can lead to back of knee pain. These are rarely dangerous and likely more annoying than anything with pain and limited range of motion as typical side effects. Baker’s cysts behind the knees don’t typically require surgical intervention and likely can be treated with physical therapy, movement, heat or ice and other ways to reduce inflammation.

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Have you ever noticed a small to medium sized bump behind your knee? 

Have you experienced a recent change in back of knee pain?

Have you noticed that it is harder to straighten your knee recently?

Has the back of your knee been bothering you? 

These can all be signs of a potential baker’s cyst, also called a popliteal cyst. Popliteal is another name for the back of your knee in case you were wondering! The term Baker’s Cyst came from British surgeon William Morant Baker

What is it? 

A Baker’s Cyst occurs when there is a build up on a joint fluid, also called synovial fluid that herniates out behind your knee. This sac then fills with fluid and a substance called “fibrin”. This fibrin blocks the fluid from returning to the knee, acting as a one-way valve. Thus, creates a gelatinous sac. 

These cysts are rarely dangerous and don’t usually require surgery. Here are the top 5 things you need to know about a baker’s cyst behind the knee. Knowing these things will give you peace of mind knowing that you understand what to look for and when to take action.

Table of Contents

1. What causes a baker's cyst behind the knee?

Baker's Cyst Behind the knee
Photo from: https://www.chrisbaileyorthopaedics.com/blog/the-bakers-cyst-what-is-it-and-will-it-go-away/

There are a few different situations when it is common to see one of these fluid-filled sacs form behind your knee.

One explanation is that up to 50% of people have a valve opening in the joint capsule at the back of the knee. Fluid is able to flow into the sac but is unable to flow back into the knee which poses a problem. 

You can also have one of these valves form from a previous injury or other condition. For example, according to the research…

“Knee pathologies that have been linked to Baker’s cysts include the presence of meniscus tears, size of effusion, osteoarthritis, chondral lesions, inflammatory arthritis, and anterior cruciate ligament tears. Of these disorders, meniscus tears are most frequently associated with popliteal cysts.”

 

As mentioned above, it is common to see a Baker’s Cyst form after a medial meniscal tear as it is usually accompanied by swelling of fluid and can create an opening for fluid to flow out of the joint. 

It also has been heard of forming after a total knee replacement, likely indicating a failed procedure in some cases.

How the cyst fills

Essentially what happens is when you bend your knee, the fluid flows into the sac. When you extend or straighten it, the cyst gets compressed between two muscles in your calf and brings it closer to the surface. It also contributes to the stiffness when trying to straighten your knee.

Commonly a baker’s cyst behind the knee can fill and refill at certain times which is why it may bother you only at certain times.

2. What does it feel like?

This is helpful to know so you know what you are dealing with along with potential complications. 

Common symptoms of a Baker’s or Popliteal Cyst include:

  • palpable sac in the back of your knee 
  • stiffness and difficulty when straightening your leg
  • swelling in the back of your knee 
  • back of knee pain

One of the ways to see if you may have one is to bend your knee, the mass should disappear. When you try to straighten your leg, the mass should reappear. This is called the Foucher Sign. If the mass stays no matter what position your knee is in, it may be a different diagnosis. 

In some cases, the cyst could become inflamed and larger in shape. If you begin to experience calf swelling and/or pain, warmth, sharp pain in your knee, or “a sensation that feels like water running down the calf”, numbness or tingling it could be a sign of something more dangerous and further medical workup may be necessary. Without intervention, the cyst could rupture. 

It is important to monitor your symptoms to avoid further complications. Watch the size of the baker’s cyst behind the knee to make sure it is not growing significantly.

3. What you should do about it

There are a couple of different options for treatment, but before deciding it is best to talk to a medical professional for personalized advice. 

If the cyst is small enough, you may not notice any or have very minor limitations. In this situation, likely no intervention is necessary unless you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. 

If you are experiencing back of knee pain, there may be other structures involved like your hamstrings or calf muscles. Seeking out guidance from a physical therapist could help address this knee pain behind your knee as it may not be entirely due to the cyst itself.

To prevent pain and range of motion deficits from getting worse, you can try these tips below: 

  • Working on mobility and flexibility will help to keep your range of motion for further deteriorating. Specific exercises will be described in the next section. 
  • Following an anti-inflammatory diet to keep inflammation and swelling levels down would be very helpful- here are some ideas
  • Ice could help to reduce the inflammation and pain
  • Compression from a compression sleeve or ACE wrap can help to reduce swelling 

If you start to experience more back of knee pain, significant loss of range of motion, or increasing stiffness, you have a few options:

  • Cortisone injection accompanied by aspiration (draining of the cyst) can help to reduce inflammation and can reduce the size of the cyst ut the recurrence rate is likely high. 
  • Surgical options such as cyst decompression or meniscal repair can be helpful to reduce the severity of the cyst but risk of recurrence is still there.  

There is a high risk for recurrence of the cyst with the different treatment options. There is a chance that the cyst may also go away on its own using the management tips above. 

4. How to Improve knee range of motion

Building a good relationship with movement can have significant benefits on those dealing with Baker’s Cysts behind the knee. There are certain movements that can help you to maintain range of motion in your knee and keep inflammation down. 

There are 3 exercises to start with. The most important thing is to maintain the ability to straighten your leg. If you begin to lose range of motion you may notice limping, difficulty walking, or difficulty climbing stairs because one leg is technically shorter than the other.

Terminal knee extension is a great place to start for most. There may be some discomfort and that is normal. If you notice significant pain, if may not be the right exercise for you and that’s okay! 

Knee bends and straight leg raise is an exercise will help keep your knee bending and straightening without increasing pain. The idea is to complete 10-15 reps of this exercise, trying to reach maximum bend and maximum extension without forcing the joint. 

Supported squats can be helpful as a weight bearing exercise. Adding the support improves your form and decreases joint pain. When you stand up, attempt to straighten your legs as much as possible. The goal is to complete 10-15 reps bending and straightening your legs as much as possible.

5. Be active in the approach to knee arthritis

It is important to continue to stay active in your approach to knee osteoarthritis. It is common that Baker’s Cysts are accompanied with knee osteoarthritis complicating the risks of limited range of motion and knee pain. Taking control of your symptoms and being proactive can be help with pain and stiffness significantly.

Have you ever felt lost in where to start with trying to control your knee osteoarthritis? Do you feel bogged down because everyone is telling you something different? 

Knee arthritis can be tricky and there is a lot of information out there to weed through, it can truly be overwhelming. Especially adding on a baker’s cyst behind the knee, it can make the process a little more complicated. 

Over and over again, we find the easiest first steps is to find movements that your body likes. Once your body starts to feel confidence with movement again, you no longer have to dread every step you take! 

One woman came to us with difficulty walking that became severe enough that she was using a cane. She felt like she had been trying everything, she was exercising, dieting, doing it all! She still had pain though and her pain wasn’t getting any better…

After just a few short weeks, she was able to walk without her cane and she was able to finally find pain relief. 

So what was she missing?! What was the secret? 

She wasn’t focusing on the right movements. The exercises she was spending her time doing were only working certain muscles while neglecting other muscles. Variety is key and it is what at least 75% of those with knee arthritis miss.

If you want to avoid making this same mistake and stop wasting your time doing the wrong things, the way you think about your knee pain can actually impact your arthritis adventure! There are 3 major myths that almost everyone believes and I want to be able to set the path straight for you. Some of these may shock you! 

Download the free guide instantly below:

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.

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