It is possible to save your knees before the joints begin to fail.
Knee pain from joint deterioration is common in today’s society. The total number of knee replacements performed each year has doubled over the past decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, knee replacement surgery will rise by 643 percent to an annual rate of 3.48 million procedures in the year 2030. Will you receive one of them?
Why do knee joints fail?
The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the human body. Knee cartilage in adults has no blood supply other than that which occurs during exercise.
Yes, weight-bearing movement acts as a natural prevention technique for knee osteoarthritis. Exercise forces nutrients into the joint fluid. Without regular movement, the knee fails to get the oxygen and nutrients needed for renewal and self-healing.
Is there a cure?
A healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, sleep and stress management determines your overall health as well as that of your knees.
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, plenty of sleep and weight control can prevent, relieve and manage its symptoms. According to a December 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association report, there is “no formal mechanism other than the sort of pumping action of the mechanics of the knee.” This study from Boston University’s School of Medicine reports that a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the rising rate of knee replacement procedures in the United States.
Knee deterioration is not a necessary part of aging. Prevention is possible.
Regular exercise is both the best prevention and the best treatment for knee osteoarthritis. According to Boston University’s David Felson, M.D., physical activity within a certain range promotes the growth and maintenance of knee cartilage, ligaments and bones. It also strengthens muscles to distribute loads appropriately across the joint. Avoid bending knees past 90 degrees when doing knee bends or squats. Keep feet flat on the floor during calf stretches and runner’s lunges to avoid twisting the knee joint.
Exercise is one of the best ways to keep all joints healthy. Regular activity is also the best treatment for those suffering with osteoarthritis anywhere in the body. Try 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week to help joints stay limber and decrease pain. Remember that exercise strengthens the muscles that support and stabilize hips and knees, as well as strengthening the heart and lungs. A side benefit of exercise is a lower diabetes risk and weight control.
Take those pounds off
Another major contributor to osteoarthritis is excess weight. Every extra pound adds four pounds of additional pressure on the knee joint. This unnecessary wear and tear to the connective tissue and cartilage of the knee joint breaks down the protective padding around the joint. This same extra weight adds mechanical stress on the hips by increasing the pressure on the hip joint six-fold.
Fat tissue increases body inflammation as fat cells produce proteins called cytokines. Cytokines destroy tissue by altering the function of cartilage cells. Dropping five to 10 pounds significantly reduces joint stress and inflammation.
Jennifer Closshey is a doctor of integrative health and a Plant City YMCA yoga instructor. JenniferClosshey@gmail.com.