About a quarter of American adults suffer from chronic knee pain, with symptoms ranging from mild and nagging to severe and debilitating. While some chronic pain can develop after a knee injury or surgery, most persistent or recurrent knee pain symptoms are caused by arthritis, a degenerative and progressive disease that slowly destroys the cartilage layer designed to protect the joint.
The team at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre in The Woodlands, Texas, is skilled in treating knee arthritis, offering comprehensive pain management options to relieve pain and slow OA joint damage. In this post, they offer five simple things you can do to protect your joints and keep them healthy and free of pain.
It might sound odd to talk about exercising when your knees hurt. But staying active is critical for maintaining knee health and reducing the painful symptoms associated with arthritis. Exercise keeps joints flexible and muscles strong, which means less strain on your knees.
Regular exercise also distributes joint fluid to help decrease joint friction, a major cause of cartilage damage and pain. Plus, regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, which we explore in the next item on this list.
Your knees are major weight-bearing joints, and every day, they support your weight as you walk, climb stairs, and stand up from sitting or resting. In fact, they support much more than your weight — data show that every step magnifies that weight by four times, which means if you’re five pounds overweight, it’s like putting an extra 20 pounds on your joints.
When you lose weight — even a small amount — you immediately decrease pressure and strain on your joints. Plus, losing weight can lead to decreased inflammation, one of the triggers of knee damage and chronic knee pain.
You might not think your shoes have anything to do with your knees, but you’d be wrong. Your shoes aren’t just for looks — their primary functions are to protect your feet and provide support and shock absorption for your knees.
If your shoes are worn out, feature high heels, or don’t have adequate padding or arch support, your knees will be subjected to a lot more stress and strain. Shoe choice is always important, but if you play a sport or are otherwise physically active, selecting footwear designed specifically for that support to give your knees the added protection they need to stay healthy is especially important.
Eating healthy helps you maintain a healthy weight, but there are other benefits. Many people don’t know that some foods promote or increase inflammation while other foods help reduce it. Because chronic knee pain typically involves a lot of inflammation, choosing foods to help decrease it makes sense.
That means filling up your grocery cart (and your plate) with antioxidant-rich foods, like leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables. Nuts and oily fish, like sardines, mackerel, and salmon, are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can help your joints, too. Avoid fast food, prepackaged foods, processed foods, and foods filled with sugar and unhealthy fats.
There’s really no such thing as “just a little” knee pain. Even mild symptoms can indicate increasing internal joint damage that can lead to increasing damage — and more painful symptoms — over time.
Having your knee pain evaluated as early as possible means we can start treatment early, too. Plus, our team will work with you to help you develop new lifestyle habits that can decrease the risk of future damage and slow the progression of underlying problems like arthritis.
Chronic knee pain is a major cause of disability, but with a few simple steps, you can help prevent knee pain and the joint damage that causes it. To learn how we can help you keep your knees healthy, call 281-374-2273 or request an appointment online with the team at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre today.