Physical therapy may be recommended as a component of your treatment plan, especially if you suffer from osteoarthritis. Because osteoarthritis is thought of as a “wear and tear” type of disease, it may seem counterintuitive to recommend an exercise regimen as part of arthritis treatment. However, research has shown that exercise can stimulate your body’s own production of hyaluronic acid (Engstrom-Laurent 1987), a component of healthy joint fluid which is responsible for joint lubrication. A tailored exercise regimen as directed by a therapist can help reduce your pain and maintain the health of your joints by keeping them moving in the proper ways.
Exercises for osteoarthritis can be categorized into four different goals: Balance (proprioception), muscle strengthening (above and below the affected joint), range of motion (stretching), and movement. Each of these categories independently increases the production of hyaluronic acid (HA), the natural lubricant in your joints. By focusing on all four goals, you can maximize the natural lubricant within your joints. Below are exercises that help directly with the knee joint. Please note that these home exercises are not meant to replace proper physical therapy under the direction of a trained specialist. In all of these exercises, please let pain be your guide. If it hurts, stop immediately. There are many variations of these exercises with which a physical therapist can assist you. And don’t overdo it — you may worsen your symptoms or condition.