At 51 can I make my arthritic leg as strong as my other one?

I have been having massive flare ups for around four months, having previously been totally unaware I had arthritis. I’m certainly aware now. After four months the muscles in my right leg are now weak and I’m having really difficulty building them back up- I’m doing about an hour of exercises a day, ten mins on the static bike and a walk up the road. It seems to be not really getting me anywhere. Has anyone else had experience of this? Thanks guys.


  • jonr
    jonr Member Posts: 358

    Hi Aallyann,

    I think it would be useful to know a bit more about your condition, is it OA or RA and which joint or joints are affected?

    I am 56, have OA in both knees and am waiting a total knee replacement on both. I no longer have the range of movement I once did but I've spent the last year building up strength and stability in my knees doing the same things you do plus physio and stretching exercises my surgery devised for me, there's also a good number of these on the VA website. I do these daily, they take around 20 minutes I'd say.

    Swimming is another great low impact activity if your legs don't hurt doing it.

    I walk on the treadmill at the gym a lot setting the gradient to the max and varying the speed. Not only is that good cardio but it's strength-building too. My gym has a stairs machine, it's a bit of a killer and hard work but I recommend it if your gym has one too. My gym also has 2 abducter machines which strengthen the inside and outside of the thighs respectively.

    I recently climbed pn y fan in south Wales, that's 876m and even some able-bodied people can't manage that so I would say the answer to your question is "definitely" with the right sort of exercise and physio done regularly and for long enough.

    Hope some of these will prove to be helpful.


  • Aallyann
    Aallyann Member Posts: 31

    Wow good for you - what an achievement. You have given me some hope! Thank you. It’s osteoarthritis in the knee. I didn’t even know I had it until I started having massive joint effusions. I’ll keep at it. Thanks so much.

  • KC1
    KC1 Member Posts: 33


    Are you seeing a physio? Mine has reduced the amount of exercises I do and has got me to focus on quality rather than quantity. This is very early days but 3 sets with 10 reps and rest in between already feels like it is making a difference for me.

    A good physio will really help identify the right exercises for you. I was able to self refer. It took a few weeks but I am now seeing them on a monthly basis. They suggested cycling and swimming to help with conditioning which I am looking into.

    I, reluctantly, started taking anti-inflammatory tablets for a week and pain killers to get things under control. I have now stopped daily anti-inflammatory medication and take pain killers as and when.

    i hope you are able to find a happy balance soon.

  • Aallyann
    Aallyann Member Posts: 31

    I’m seeing the hospital physio. I’m thinking of getting some extra physio too. She told me to do 10x leg raises 10x leg extension 10 tappy toes and 10 wall sit twice a day. I’m doing a fair bit more than that. I’m taking colchicine just while I do the physio and I have the static bike. My kneecap has moved so I have to be a bit careful with the bike at the mo. My legs do feel better but it’s so slow and I still can’t walk downstairs properly.

    anyway thanks for taking an interest!

  • KC1
    KC1 Member Posts: 33

    Great, hope the appointment went well.

    be careful not to do too much more than discussed with your physio as you can over exercise the joint and end up with more pain not less. Stick with the physios regime for now, even if it’s a bit frustrating and less than you would normally do. Y physio was very clear ‘slow and steady wins the race’ or at least helps with overall conditioning.

    My initial referral was for my hip however my knee decided to come to the party before I got my first appointment. So we are concentrating on the hip with a nod to the knee for exercises are 10 x clam, 10 x sit squats and the wall sit - 3 sets with a minute rest between each set every other day. On the wall sit the aim is to hold for a minute. Going back in 4 weeks. All the other leg exercises I used to do have stopped for now - can still do upper body stuff though and am thinking of getting a static bike.

    take care

  • Aallyann
    Aallyann Member Posts: 31

    Good luck with it. You’re right about overdoing it- I have already done that a few times. I’m impatient. Wall sit is a killer! Can’t believe how out of breath I get!

  • KC1
    KC1 Member Posts: 33

    Wall sit is definitely a killer. Pace yourself, find joy in the rest as well as doing each exercise

  • Baloo
    Baloo Member Posts: 359

    I don't know if strength is important as mobility. My knees have been stiff on and off for ages. Trying to strengthen them up for a simple operation like getting off a chair I gained the hang so to speak that I needed to do something, but after the initial improvement there has been nothing further. They remain too weak and painful, for example, to do a squat, and I would say getting out of a chair was still a problem, but less so. I keep up some leg press in the gym once a week as I don't want to lose any of the mobility.

    My shoulders on the other hand are in real trouble. My left shoulder has gone so painful I barely use the arm and I was in a flare up. I did some physio and it hurt worse. I told myself I must use it meanwhile. I'm concentrating on how I can persuade it to move now the flare up is died out. Im going to move from physio that lifts arm weight onto physio that just dangles the arm or gets some rotation going. I'm hoping to do it without anti inflammatory or pain killer, but when I do I see it in terms of mobility. I had enough of the twinging pain last night and took some anti inflammatory last night but it is mainly in support of how can I get moving.

  • Aallyann
    Aallyann Member Posts: 31

    Yes it’s tricky to get the balance.I have been having horrendous joint effusions so I’m terrified that is going to go again. I’m determined to strengthen my leg. I think about very little else. I have got totally bogged down in it! I don’t want to take pain killers either!

    keep at it everyone! I have been reading things that @stickywicket says and I am loving her positive outlook!!!

    It’s great being on here!

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,608

    Thank you @Aallyann . Much of what we do to help ourselves is a balancing act - even more so when you have a body like mine😉 but positivity always helps.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright