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OA and Joint Stiffness

October 3, 2012

Osteoarthritis of the knee often leads to knee pain.  Long-term inactivity can make the osteoarthritis and your quality of life much worse.  This means that short rests can increase knee pain.  In fact, sitting for a brief time can lead to joint stiffness.  That makes it harder to move your knee, and makes motion painful.

In most cases, joint stiffness is due to inflammation of the synovium (the fluid which helps to lubricate your knee).  More severe joint stiffness can be caused by shortening of tendons and ligaments in the knee, but this is often over longer periods of inactivity.  If the synovium is inflamed, the pain is intense at first, but decreases as the joint is used.  This means that avoiding activities because of joint stiffness you can limit your overall function.  However, while increasing activity should reduce stiffness, too much exercise can make the osteoarthritis worse.

Overall, persistent activity is the best way to reduce joint stiffness.  Avoiding painful activities can lead to shortening of tendons and ligaments.  This would make future activities much more difficult.

The best take away is:  Use it or lose it.

 



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