Alternative Treatments for Knee Arthritis
Want a relaxing way to reduce your pain and stiffness? Massage may be for you.
Massaging your leg loosens the muscles that control your knee. It can improve your "range of motion" -- how far you can bend the joint. That's a key part of cutting down the pain.
You might want to consider "Swedish massage." It uses long, gliding strokes across your skin and kneading of your muscles. In a recent study, people who had 1 hour of this kind of therapy, once a week, had the best results.
Ask your doctor how to safely do massage on yourself. Or find a qualified therapist who has experience with knee OA.
It can boost your range of motion and cut down on pain and swelling, says Ryan Curda, DC, a chiropractor in San Diego.
You may need frequent adjustments at first and then drop down to one to two times a month, Curda says. If your knee is red or swollen, your chiropractor won't use direct pressure.
Heat and Cold
Both can help. You might want to try a warm bath. Or put a washcloth soaked in cold water on your knee.
"Heat helps loosen knee stiffness," Gupta says. Cold is good if you want to cut down swelling, which sometimes happens after physical therapy.
It's got a bunch of benefits. It not only builds up muscle and improves your balance, but it also fights pain, makes you more flexible, and eases your stress. And to top it off, you may sleep better, too.
A word of caution, though. Don't overdo it. When Cohen first tried yoga, she felt good. But as she got better, she became a bit too daring and pushed herself too far into postures. Instead of improving her OA, it made her knee hurt more.
If you want to try yoga, talk with your doctor first to find out if you have any restrictions. And when you get started, always warm up first and begin each pose slowly.
If you feel like you have no control over your pain, it can make it worse, Gupta says. But meditation can boost your mood and help you feel more in charge. You'll hurt less and move around better.
You have plenty of options. Try mindful meditation, guided imagery, chanting, or deep breathing. You can meditate alone or join an expert-guided class.
No matter what type of alternative treatment you use, always keep up with the therapy your doctor suggests. And check with him before you try anything new. He'll let you know if your knee and overall health are a good fit for your plans.