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Hitting The Links? HSS Shares How To Manage Knee Arthritis

Dr. Joseph Markenson.
Dr. Joseph Markenson. Photo Credit: Hospital for Special Surgery

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Golf is somewhat unique as it’s both a physical sport and a social activity. Spending a day on the course with friends and family could be great for your well-being, but if you experience chronic knee pain, it might be difficult to even lift a club.

There is a common myth that if you have knee osteoarthritis (OA), physical activity will make your knees feel worse. However, that's not the case. The right treatment plan of regular physical activity has been shown to improve some arthritic symptoms.

Knee osteoarthritis is a medical condition that triggers pain in the knee joint that limits mobility and daily activities. Simply said, it’s the breakdown of cartilage.

While it may seem counterintuitive, maintaining an active lifestyle can strengthen muscles, improve functionality, ease pain, and reduce depression and fatigue for those with knee OA. An active lifestyle can include: simply walking, aerobics and strength training. Even a small increase in active lifestyle can help those with knee OA walk faster. Studies have shown that exercise and physical therapy not only improved function for people with knee OA but also delayed or prevented the need for surgery.

As with any condition, each patient’s treatment should be customizable to their unique situation. It is important to be evaluated early by a healthcare professional who can help you find the right pain management regimen. Treatment varies by patient but can include modalities such as over-the- counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, prescription treatments and topical pain treatments.

Walking 18 holes is the same as walking 10,000 steps, so golf is just one sport that can be beneficial to those with knee OA. It is important to stay motivated, so whichever physical activity you choose, it is often helpful to record your progress.

Dr. Joseph Markenson is a rheumatologist who specializes in the treatment of gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and vasculitis. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Paramus and the hospital’s main campus in New York.

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