Pain Increases When Bending the Knee
If stage 4 of knee arthritis is reached, as well as becoming unsteady in the way in which they walk, the patient will also feel considerable pain when bending their knee. This often results in individuals simply attempting to avoid exerting any pressure on the knee at all. Often, for those who are afflicted with stage 4 osteoarthritis, there is a need to stretch out the knee and lift up the hip or even lean the whole body to one side so that the feet can be lifted and will not touch the floor during a walk.
When doing this for a prolonged period of time, it results in tissue around the knee joint adapting to the body’s new method of use. Consequently, the knee joint starts to seize, and it becomes increasingly difficult for an individual to bend their knee to the same extent as they could previously. Finally, they will reach the 4th stage of osteoarthritis, which produces unstable, wobbly walking. When reaching this point, a walking stick is required to assist with balance.
At this stage, patients tend to walk without bending their knee. Consequently, in an attempt to avoid the pain, this often involves them lifting their hip and adjusting their body posture instead. Through doing this, they can make forward movements with only minimal aching of the knee joint. However, this can lead to exhaustion when doing regular activities, such as taking a long walk. Although, initially this may not be noticed, after a longer period of time the ‘wobbling’ will become obvious, and the individual will start to stagger, swaying left and right in an almost mechanical way, rather like an old-fashioned robot. The reason for comparing this ‘wobbly’ walking to a robot from the past rather than a modern-day robot is because technology has advanced to the extent where a robot can move like a human with fully working knee joints. For example, when observing ASIMO the robot, its walking technique is comparable to a human’s. It can bend its knees and ankles effectively and can also walk steadily with its body upright, without teetering at all and therefore it looks considerably better than a human with this stage of knee arthritis.
Perhaps we will see robots competing with humans in 100 metre running races in the future? As time progresses, eventually the robot will surely win as, where the human knee joint will wear and tear due to repeated use, if a robot’s knee joint becomes damaged or ineffective it can simply be replaced with the same or a more optimised version. Furthermore, although the human knee joint can be replaced with an artificial one, it is simply not the same standard as the original. Moreover, we can replace the knee joint but cannot stop the deterioration by time, of the body or the spirit of youth.
Regarding the knee, when the patient continually walks, they become increasingly unsteady and will often rely on a walking stick to help support themselves. However, factors such as choosing an inappropriate walking stick or / and holding it in an incorrect way can actually increase the pressure exerted on the degenerated knee joint which will ultimately result in further deterioration to the joints themselves. When considering the improper use of walking sticks, whenever a patient does have knee problem and opts to use the stick as an aid, patients almost always hold the walking stick on the same side of the leg that bears the knee pain. Unfortunately, this only acts to compound the problem as it causes them to lean more and more to that particular side without noticing it. In addition to this, the arm handling the stick will also experience wrist ache because the body weight will not be put on that arm. This is simply not the correct way for a person’s body weight to be supported. The appropriate way to hold a walking stick is to hold it on the side of the fully-functioning knee.
To summarise, if the right knee is aching, when making strides with the right knee, the patient should hold the walking stick with their left hand, whilst ensuring the walking stick is kept in front of the body. It should also be kept level up to the tip of the right foot; this will distribute the body weight to put pressure on the stick, rather than directly onto the bad knee. Interestingly, in many Thai movies when the hero has a debilitating leg injury, the walking stick is often used on the wrong side. This goes against modern medical principles and certainly, in real life, we should aim not to neglect the knee joint in this way.
Ultimately, it’s better to take care of these small details so that we will have a fully-functioning knee that remains in good condition so that we can utilise it fully for many years.
Part 1 : Identifying the Early Stages of Knee Arthritis
Part 2 : The Development of Symptoms
Part 3 : The Effect on Living Standards
Part 4 : Pain Increases When Bending the Knee
Part 5 : When an Operation is Required
Part 6 : When a Patient is Unable to Walk