Question: I am a recreational runner. I have some knee pain in the mornings and after sitting for long periods. An x-ray shows mild osteoarthritis of knee joint. I have stopped running. What should I do instead?
Answer: Carry on running!
There are now a number of research studies showing that running and osteoarthritis (OA) of the weight bearing joints such as the knee and hip are not related. In fact, the opposite is true. Studies are showing less arthritis in runners than matched controls.
If one of our patients is having pain with running, and has an OA knee, we will be looking at muscle imbalances, postural alignment and running technique. Also, determining the origin of the pain is crucial. Despite an x-ray diagnosis of OA, we have seen cases where the pain is a result of a problem with the tracking of the patella (kneecap) and not the weight bearing surfaces. In these cases, fixing the patellar problem was enough to make running safe and comfortable again!
Although we would not necessarily recommend running to a non-runner with OA, we would certainly recommend brisk walking for at least 30 minutes a day. The compensation/release effect on the joint surface that walking provides has been shown to deliver nutrition to the cells on the surface of the joint. The 30 minute walk a day has also been shown to be the best “daily pill” a person can take for general health.
Does this knee pain scenario sound like you? Please call us! We can help! Our goal is to keep British Columbians moving!