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Hip & Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies

Posted on 07/25/22 by Michael in Peter B. Lewis Aquatic Center

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process in the joint that causes changes to the bone and cartilage which can lead to pain, stiffness and limited mobility. The joint pain and stiffness caused from osteoarthritis can make weightbearing activities painful and difficult to complete. Even though these changes are occurring in the joint, there are still ways to help reduce the symptoms from osteoarthritis and improve function. Two of the most common weightbearing joints that are affected by osteoarthritis are the hip and knee joints.

Hip & Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies

Some of the recommended treatment strategies for hip and knee osteoarthritis include:

  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Use of an assistive device
  • Bracing

Recommended Interventions for Hip & Knee Osteoarthritis

Hip & Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies



One of the strongest recommendations in managing osteoarthritis symptoms is through exercise.Staying active and improving the strength around a joint can be beneficial. The following exercises have been shown to be helpful for treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Aerobic exercise

It is recommended that adults get up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week and walking is a great way to start. Begin by seeing how far you can comfortably walk, then walk that distance consistently for a week. If walking is too uncomfortable due to pain from osteoarthritis, stationary biking or aquatic exercise are two alternatives.

  • Aquatic exercise

Using the buoyancy effect of water, aquatic therapy helps to reduce weightbearing and joint pain allowing for improved tolerance to exercise and functional movements. This increased tolerance to activity allows patients to more easily improve their strength and flexibility which can lead to improvements in their symptoms. To learn more about the benefits of aquatic exercise, read our blog.

Hip & Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies


  • Resistance exercise

Resistance exercises can also help with osteoarthritis by improving the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint. It is recommended that adults get at least 2 days of muscle strengthening activity each week. This can be achieved through the use of equipment like ankle weights and resistance bands, or even weight machines.

  • Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that includes a series of slow, gentle movements which can help improve strength and balance, which can be beneficial for both hip and knee osteoarthritis. One alternative to Tai Chi is called Ai Chi, which is the practice of Tai Chi in the water. Ai Chi is one of the regular classes offered at our Center. View our class calendar to learn more.

  • Yoga

Yoga is a form of exercise that combines physical positions, breathing and meditation. Studies have shown Yoga to be beneficial for knee osteoarthritis. If you are interested in beginning Yoga, our Center offers a Yoga class for all levels. View our class calendar to learn more.

Weight loss

Weight loss can also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Clinical outcomes have shown a weight loss of 5% can improve osteoarthritis symptoms in overweight individuals. Finding a comfortable way to exercise safely is an important step to achieving weight loss, and working with an expert to develop an exercise program leads to additional benefits.

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices such as canes or walkers can also help reduce lower extremity osteoarthritis pain and improve function. The type of device that is most beneficial will depend on your functional level and overall balance. If you are walking independently and have good balance, a cane can help to reduce the weightbearing forces on the painful joint while walking. Talk to a health care professional if you are not sure which assistive device would be best for you.


Bracing is another option that has shown to be helpful with knee osteoarthritis. There are several types of braces that may be helpful with knee osteoarthritis including tibiofemoral knee braces and patellofemoral knee braces. Talk to a health care professional about what type of knee brace would be best for you.

If you are unsure which treatment strategies are best for you or need help starting an exercise program, working with a physical therapist is an excellent place to start. For more information about physical therapy for osteoarthritis or any of the exercise programs at our Center, contact us online or call 216-595-7345.





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