Effective Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis is Free
For people who have knee osteoarthritis, the most effective treatment they can participate in is free. Not only is it free, but researchers can tell you how much you need per day to help protect against mobility problems whether you have knee osteoarthritis or are at risk for the condition.
The prescription is simple, according to the findings of the new study, which was conducted by experts from several different universities and institutions in the United States. Walk.
The good news is that experts identified how much walking is beneficial and how much it may help. Specifically, walking 6,000 or more steps daily appears to protect people who have or who are at risk of knee osteoarthritis from developing mobility problems.
Generally, 2,000 steps equal approximately one mile. Steps per day include all the walking you do from the time you get out of bed until you go back to bed at night.
Analysis of the 1,788 participants in the study (part of the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study) showed that those who walked an additional 1,000 steps daily (over what they had walked previously) showed a 16 percent to 18 percent reduction in functional limitations after two years. According to Daniel White, PT, ScD, from Boston University and one of the study’s authors, he and his team found that 6,000 steps daily are necessary to enjoy the benefits.
“We encourage those with or at risk of knee OA to walk at least 3,000 or more steps each day,” noted White, “and ultimately progress to 6,000 steps daily to minimize the risk of developing difficulty with mobility.” Osteoarthritis of the knee is the main cause of functional limitations among older adults, and this mobility problem has a severe impact on quality of life.
How to get motivated to walk
It can be a challenge to walk and do other physical activities when you hurt. However, staying physically active is critical for people who have osteoarthritis to help preserve and maintain mobility.
Depending on your circumstances, you can take a variety of steps to keep yourself motivated. For example:
- Get a pedometer and keep track of how much you walk each day. Plot your progress on a chart that you keep posted in plain sight. Keep trying to better your walking times.
- Get a walking buddy and motivate each other. If you can’t find one person who can walk with you enough days of the week, have more than one walking partner
- Join or start a walking group at work, in your neighborhood, club, or social group
- Mix it up. Walk on most days and engage in other physical activities on other days or along with walking. Tai chi is beneficial for older adults with osteoarthritis. Other options include swimming, yoga, spinning, and qigong.
- Talk to other people—either in person or online--who are also experiencing knee osteoarthritis or other forms of arthritis. Together you can encourage and motivate each other to keep moving.
- Walk with purpose: park your car farther away from a store or other destination, choose to walk to an event or on an errand, and take walking breaks during the day at work or at home.
It’s also important to choose footwear that helps your knees. At least one rheumatologist recommends sneakers and flip flops for knee osteoarthritis—just in time for summer!
An effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis is free, and all you need to do is take advantage of it. Constantly seek and engage in ways to increase the amount of walking in your life, and you will hopefully feel better for it.
White DK et al. Daily walking and the risk of incident functional limitation on knee OA: an observational study. Arthritis Care & Research 2014; DOI:10.1002/acr.22362