Friday, April 24, 2009

When should you rest the arthritic knee

Simple answer is as little as possible while maintaining common sense.

Let me elaborate.

What you want to avoid is the gradual reduction in mobility that results in muscle loss. For most arthritis sufferers, this is an extremely gradual process that is well under way before they realize it. Remaining active is extremely important in the fight against arthritis.

However, anyone with a bad knee will tell you that in a flare up "keeping active" is often not an option. Strong pain is enough to stop anyone.

What you need to aim for is just enough rest to let the flare up settle down, then an immediate gradual return to normal activity levels.

This is a bit of a balancing act. Those who take too long to return to activity risk more muscle loss. Those who push it too far, too soon, can exacerbate the flare up and turn a bad day into a bad week.

Learning about your knee and its usual behaviour is crucial. I always explain the above process and its goals rather than giving rigid guidelines. Flexibility in any program is important as no two flare ups will be the same, just as no two knees are the same.

So when it's bad, rest is part of the process, but consider it a necessary evil. Take some pain killers and get back on that horse as soon as possible.

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