Knee stiffness after sitting and especially prolonged sitting is getting to be a more and more common problem these days.1 It’s not an unusual situation for you these days to find it difficult to get up from your comfy sofa after the movie has ended in a couple of hours or getting up after sitting and working for many hours in front of the desk and if you are frequently suffering from knee stiffness after sitting and when you are trying to get up, then read on this article to understand the causes and treatment for Knee Stiffness After Sitting.
What are the Causes of Knees Stiffness after Sitting?
Knee Stiffness after Sitting Caused By Osteoarthritis of the Knee:
There are some people who can experience knees stiffness even after sitting for a couple of minutes. And then there are some people who have knees stiffness after sitting for prolonged periods of time. This should not be taken lightly, as this can be a sign of osteoarthritis.2 In the initial stages, the knee stiffness will subside in a couple of minutes and the person will be able to go about his/her daily activities without any further stiffness or pain. However, as the damage to the knee joint increases, the knee stiffness also worsens and needs medical attention.
Osteoarthritis of the knee joint is characterized by damage to the cartilage which covers the bones. This leads to rubbing of the bones of knees against each other upon movement resulting in pain. As the Knee Osteoarthritis worsens, patient starts to experience knee stiffness after sitting, pain in the knees with walking and limited knee movements. Osteoarthritis of the knee gradually progresses and it takes some years for the cartilage of the knee joint to get damaged. Elderly people are commonly diagnosed with Knee Osteoarthritis.
Knee Stiffness after Sitting Caused By Chondromalacia Patellae:
Chondromalacia patella is a medical condition where there is damage to the cartilage present just below the kneecap. As the patient moves, the kneecap does not sit in its proper position and rubs against the cartilage causing inflammation, pain and damage of the knee joint and also resulting in knee stiffness. There are some individuals who are at an increased risk for developing chondromalacia patellae and these people include soccer players, runners, jumpers etc. People who have suffered from trauma or accident which causes damage to their kneecap have an increased likelihood for developing chondromalacia patellae.
Knee Stiffness after Sitting Caused By Knee Bursitis:
Knee stiffness after sitting which is also accompanied with swelling can be an indication of knee bursitis. Bursitis is a condition where there is inflammation of the bursae, which are the small fluid-filled sacs that act as shock absorbers for the knee joint. Bursitis is commonly caused by trauma, repetitive motion injuries and infection
Knee Stiffness after Sitting Caused By Excess Synovial Fluid:
Synovial fluid is present in all the joints of the body and its function is lubricating the cartilage and reducing friction and providing resiliency against damage. If there is insufficient amount of synovial fluid present, then it causes unnecessary stress or wear and tear on the knee joint which leads to knee stiffness and restriction of movement.
If there is excessive synovial fluid present due to some imbalances; or if inflammation is causing accumulation of synovial fluid, then it also causes knee stiffness after sitting and swelling in the knee. Some of the causes of excessive synovial fluid include arthritis, gout, injury and infection.
How is the Cause for Knee Stiffness after Sitting Diagnosed?
The treatment of knees stiffness normally depends on the underlying cause. For diagnosis of what is causing knee stiffness after sitting, the tests and examinations which are done include: blood tests, x-ray, MRI scan and arthroscopy.
What is the Treatment for Knee Stiffness after Sitting?
Treatment for knee stiffness after sitting depends on its underlying cause. Once the cause is addressed, there is relief from knee stiffness after sitting. Depending on the cause, some of the common treatments done for Knee Stiffness After Sitting are:
Medications: For immediate relief from pain and stiffness of the knee joint, pain medications such as NSAIDs or paracetamol can be prescribed.
Ice Pack and Warm Compresses: Application of ice pack and warm compresses to the knee joint gives relief from knee stiffness after sitting.
Supplements: Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine supplements benefit if the knee stiffness after sitting is due to osteoarthritis. These supplements help in growth and regeneration of the cartilage. Omega-3 supplements also help with knee joint health.
Fluid Drainage: If the knee stiffness after sitting is caused by excessive fluid, then treatment consists of draining the fluid after which the patient needs to rest and take the prescribed medications for the problem.
Surgery: If the knee stiffness after sitting does not improve with conservative treatment and there is worsening of the knee stiffness which impairs daily activities, then surgery is done for a total knee replacement or for realigning the knee cap to resolve the problem.
Rest: Whatever the cause of knee stiffness after sitting, it is important to avoid certain activities which impact the knee joint such as running, jogging etc., as these activities put excessive stress/pressure on the knee joints and cause further damage.
Physical Therapy\Mild Exercises: However, patient should not completely abstain from physical activities, as complete rest will worsen knee stiffness after sitting. It is important to partake in moderate physical activities or exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the knee joint. However, before starting on any exercise regime, it is important to consult your doctor to get the go-ahead. A physical therapist will guide you regarding the necessary exercises needed to strengthen the knee.
Moving About: Avoiding prolonged postures is important if you are suffering from knee stiffness after sitting. Doing simple movements when sitting and before standing up, benefits a lot in relieving knee stiffness after sitting. If you have a desk job then getting up, moving around and doing some stretching every 20 minutes helps in relieving the knee stiffness. This maintains the lubrication around the knees and prevents knee stiffness after sitting for long periods of time.
Weight Loss: Losing weight, especially if you are overweight, significantly decreases the pressure and the strain on the knee joints, slows the progression of knee osteoarthritis and greatly helps in alleviating knee stiffness after sitting.
Knee Stiffness After Sitting, however mild it may be, should never ever be taken lightly as it can be a sign of development of more severe problems and therefore requires medical attention. For a healthy and active life, we need healthy knees, no matter what our age is. We tend to take our knees for granted and it is only when they start to buckle down beneath us that we go for a medical consult. To avoid serious problems and to live an active and healthy life even in old age, it is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing knee stiffness after sitting or knee stiffness or pain with movement.