Knee pain is a common problem of the old age, most commonly due to Osteoarthritis, where the joint wears out with age. So as we all age, eventually our knees wear out and develop osteoarthritis. Fortunately there are ways which help us to delay these changes and postpone knee problems.
Why we should protect our knees?
Knee is the strongest and one of the most important joint in our body. Movements at the knee joint are essential to many everyday activities, including walking, running, sitting and standing. Once our knees develop osteoarthritis, it hinders our day to day activities, inactivity sets into life, people lose their independence and this will further worsens the physical and mental status of a person.
How big is the problem of osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of disability in elderly. The prevalence is around 25% among Indians aged above 50 years, more in women than men. 70% of those above 65 years show features on Osteoarthritis on x-ray.
What happens to our knees as we age?
The ends of bones forming the joint are protected by a thin layer of cartilage which provides smooth surface and makes the movements possible. Our knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step. That pressure causes regular wear and tear of the articular cartilage that protects the ends of long bones. With age, muscles and ligaments get weaker, the knee’s two shock absorbers called menisci deteriorate. These age related changes further worsens the wear of articular cartilage. When the cartilage is gone, the bones rub against each other, and we end up with pain.
What worsens these changes?
– Over weight: more pressure on the knees causing them to deteriorate early
– Osteoporosis: Sedentary life style, menopause
– Injuries: Injuries cause direct damage to the cartilage, ligaments, muscles, that eventually lead to early osteoarthritis
– Co-morbidities: Diabetes mellitus, Gout, Rheumatoid arthritis
– Repetitive misuse
The DOs to protect our knees?
– Strengthen your muscles: By increasing the strength, muscles help you to stabilize your knee joint and offer good protection. Muscles also absorb the stress placed on the knee. Strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings.
– Reduce weight: As said earlier, the more the joints are loaded, the more they deteriorate. So reduction of weight decreases pressure on the joints and relieves pain. Everyone should maintain the BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 to 24.9.
– Maintain Knee function: The range of motion should be maintained, this preventing stiffness, deformities.
– Wear well cushioned shoes that help to reduce the impact on your knees
– Early Treatment of Bone, ligament or muscle injuries,
– Good glycemic control
– Early consultation and treatment for rheumatologic diseases
What are the DON’Ts to protect our knees?
– Don’t squat, Don’t sit cross legged: Squatting or deep bending of knees for long periods causes damage to the cartilage in the knee
– Don’t involve in high impact activities: Avoid jogging on hard surface, Avoid activities that involve jumping, Avoid walking on uneven surfaces.
– Don’t be Sedentary: Have an active life style, develop a hobby, exercise regulary
– Don’t misuse your knees: Listen to your body, pain is an indicator of injury, stop! When you experience pain, give ample rest, apply cold compressions. Avoid climbing and getting downstairs which causes repetitive loading on knees.
Dr Balavardhan Reddy
Senior Consultant Orthopedic specialist
in Arthroplasty, Arthroscopy, Trauma and Spine
Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills.