Every year, more than eleven million Americans consult their doctors because of knee pain.That may include twinges inside the knee, clicking noises, swelling, and even immobility. Knees are one of our most commonly injured joints, and the most vulnerable to arthritis. But experts say our knees are designed to outlast us, if we treat them well.
Here are the best ways to be nice to your knees:
1. Strengthen your thigh muscles.
A 2009 Mayo Clinic study of 265 participants with knee osteoarthritis determined that those with the strongest quadriceps (thigh muscles) experienced less knee pain and maintained much better functioning than those whose quadriceps were weakest.
2. Stretch regularly.
It is critical to maintain flexibility in the muscles and tendons that connect directly to the knee. If the tissues in the hamstrings and quadriceps became too tight, the knee can be pulled out of alignment.
3. Lose the extra weight.
According to the authors of a study recently presented to the American College of Rheumatology, losing as little as five percent of your total body weight can greatly reduce the likelihood you may develop arthritis of the knee.
4. Take glucosamine/chondroitin.
Although no studies have yet proven their efficacy, many doctors recommend you take 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin every day to strengthen your cartilage.
5. Know when to see the doctor.
If your knee is swollen, don’t delay. Go to your doctor. If you hear a grinding, rattling noise, or it feels as though gravel is rolling around inside your knee, go to your doctor. These can signal damaged cartilage. Much progress has been made in the last few years in terms of treatment.
6. Examine your options.
If your doctor wants to rush you into surgery, get a second opinion. Several studies of arthroscopic surgery have found minimal or no benefit. Physical therapy, combined with anti-inflammatory medicines, may be just as effective, and much less invasive.
The human knee is a remarkable piece of engineering. It can withstand loads equal to four times your body weight. It gyroscopes in three dimensions, so your leg can not just bend, but also pivot and twist. Take good care of your knees, and they should carry you for a lifetime.