Knee problems are the most common reason people visit an orthopaedic or sports medicine surgeon. May seem like common sense, but if you want healthy knees later in life, start taking care of them now, even if you are young.
The knee is the largest and strongest joint in your body and the major support structure of all your lower extremities. Unfortunately, as people age, knee issues become more common. Possible knee symptoms are aches, stiffness, and swelling and are usually caused by two main factors.
First, as we age, we lose some of the natural cartilage that acts as a cushion between the four bones in your knee joint. Damage to, or wearing down of, the cartilage causes pain and makes it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs.
Second, if you play sports, live an active lifestyle, or have suffered a knee injury, it is likely you may experience future or further knee problems as you continue to age.
Obesity has more recently become a major risk factor for knee conditions such as arthritis, not only of the knee, but also the hip and ankle.
Now that we know the major causes of knee problems, what’s a person with aging knees to do? While you can’t stop the aging process, you can follow these key tips to protect your knees.
1. Monitor changes in your knee health and record any signs and symptoms to share with your orthopaedic physician.
Symptoms from the aging process may be knee pain, but swelling is another common indicator. With age and cartilage loss, the body naturally responds by trying to repair itself, so there may be fluid in the knee, which is the body’s way of trying to increase shock absorption and lubrication in the knee.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Every extra pound you put on places about four 4 extra pounds of pressure on your knees. Getting rid of extra weight may help alleviate knee pain or cure it altogether.
Living an active lifestyle and incorporating low impact exercise into your routine promotes healthy knees. Make sure you leave enough time to properly warm up and stretch before starting your activity. Strength training uses resistance to build strong muscles and flexibility in the skeletal muscles.
4. Don’t overdo it!
Make sure you do not ignore the ongoing knee pain. If you play sports, consider additional training to learn proper techniques and alignment. When doing squats and lunges, don’t bend your leg beyond a 90-degree angle and make sure your knee stays directly over your foot. If injured, try using the RICE method to relieve immediate pain and reduce swelling: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. And contact your healthcare provider if the pain persists or intensifies.
The team of knee specialists at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center includes orthopaedic surgeons, non-operative and sports medicine physicians, and trainers. At Emory, we offer the most advanced knee treatments in the Southeast, including anatomic ACL reconstruction, PRP knee therapy, meniscus repair, and more. To schedule an appointment, call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.
About Dr. Spero Karas
Dr. Karas is the Director of the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. Dr. Karas is an internationally recognized expert in the field for sports medicine, surgery of the shoulder and knee, and arthroscopic surgery. He has been recognized as one of America’s “Top Orthopaedic Doctors” in Men’s Health Magazine and “Top Sports Medicine Specialists for Women” in Women’s Health Magazine. Atlanta Magazine has named him in “Atlanta’s Best Doctors” for the past eight years.
Dr. Karas came to Emory in 2005, after serving as Chief of the Shoulder Service and team physician at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He currently serves as head team physician and orthopedic surgeon for the Atlanta Falcons, as well as a consulting team physician for Emory University and Georgia Tech athletics. He cares for patients and athletes of all levels: professional, collegiate, scholastic, and recreational.