Gonarthrosis, commonly known as knee osteoarthritis, is more frequent among athletes. Several factors can explain this phenomenon: overuse, repeated impacts, recurrent injuries.
Despite this increased incidence, practice guidelines continue to recommend physical exercise as the primary treatment.
Several recently published studies have demonstrated the beneficial effect of physical activity on cartilage health (matrix hardness, increased concentration of proteoglycans, and thickening of the cartilage).
These studies also showed that a proper exercise program was often more effective than arthroscopic surgery.
Thus, athletes should not be discouraged from staying active, but rather encouraged to change their habits by choosing activities that are better suited to their condition.
What sports/exercise should you practice when suffering from knee pain? Is cycling good for osteoarthritis?
Physical activity is one of the treatments for osteoarthritis, so you need to choose a sports activity that is adapted to this disease. Once you have decided on an activity, it is important to adjust the intensity to the progression of your condition.
For people suffering from osteoarthritis, it is best to choose a sport that does not put too much pressure on the knee. Sports with impacts (jumps, jogging, direct hits) and sudden weight shifts (soccer, basketball) are therefore not recommended.
Symptomatic patients should avoid prolonged or excessive activities (marathon, triathlon).
Cycling is highly recommended by professionals because of its weight-reducing qualities. Road bike or exercise bike, whatever you prefer!
Swimming and other water sports are also recommended. Because it reduces the effects of gravity and therefore the weight of the body, floating has the advantage of being gentle on the body and the joints.
Walking is another suggestion. It mobilizes and boosts the circulation of synovial fluid in the joints. Indeed, in cases of osteoarthritis, the joint often lacks synovial fluid, which is responsible for nourishing the joint.
However, as with any other sport, it is important to be aware of the volume of walking and not to overdo it.
Finally, rest periods are important to give the cartilage time to regenerate.
A closer look at the recommended sports and those to avoid in the case of shoulder osteoarthritis
Racquet sports are not recommended for patients suffering from shoulder osteoarthritis, as they require an excessive mobilization of the shoulder’s amplitude.
As with knee osteoarthritis, swimming (or any other aquatic sport) is recommended because of the lower effect of gravity.
Finally, walking can also be done without risk.
Physiotherapy, a tool for dealing with osteoarthritis
Do not hesitate to ask a health professional to help you. Physiotherapy treats the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
During a follow-up, your therapist may establish an exercise program focused on mobility and strengthening. Some tools, such as the KneeKG device, can help correct defective patterns that cause premature wear.
Tips for the cute period (red, swollen and non-functional knee)
In the acute period, anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy focused on analgesic modalities should help contain the pain crisis. If this period lasts more than two weeks, do not hesitate to resort to cortisone injection. Obviously, you cannot expect these injections to cure osteoarthritis permanently, but they do allow you to get out of the inflammatory crisis faster, and thus resume therapeutic exercises.
- Glucosamine sulphate for osteoarthritis
Some studies have shown the effectiveness of glucosamine sulphate in gonarthrosis. Since cartilage is barely vascularized, the percentage of product ingested orally that ends up in the joint will probablly be minimal. In addition, you should not expect significant results before three to four months.
As for viscosupplementation (Synvisc, Durolane, Orthovisc, Monovisc and others), it will have repercussions not only on the pain, but also on the function.
The possibility of a long-term chondroprotective effect has also been reported, which would make it possible to delay the final stage, i.e. total knee prosthesis (TKP).
Viscosupplementation is indicated for mild to moderate osteoarthritis, where improvement is reported to be nearly 75%.
Despite less convincing results for severe osteoarthritis, it remains relevant to try it anyway, because the next step, TKP, is much more invasive and may leave functional sequelae that would compromise the resumption of certain physical activities.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections are sometimes used. They would be more effective in younger patients with mild degrees of osteoarthritis. As for the intra-articular injection of stem cells, the preliminary data are particularly promising.
Prostheses (TKP 1 and UCP ) should be delayed as much as possible because of their limited lifespan (about 15 years in active patients) and because of a certain risk of complications.
New surgical techniques aiming at preserving the natural angulation of the knee offer the hope of better long-term results.
Some athletes with TKP manage to remain very active provided, again, that they carefully select the appropriate activities.