Knee pain is on the list of the most common issues orthopedic specialists treat, and it can arise from a long list of problems and conditions — but it’s often caused by a degenerative joint disease called osteoarthritis, or OA.
OA is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage between bones. While it can develop in your hips, back, neck and fingers, it occurs most often in the knees. OA affects more than 30 million Americans, but it’s found to be much more common among older people — especially those age 50 and older.
Though this may sound like getting knee pain from OA is as inevitable as aging, the good news is that it can often be avoided. There are things you can start doing today to help decrease your risk for developing OA or help you avoid the need for medical treatment, such as a knee replacement or injections, down the road.
Here are three things you can start doing to help protect your knees and keep them strong and healthy for the years to come:
Get moving. Getting regular physical activity can go a long way in reducing your risk for OA, and it can even improve your balance, flexibility and knee strength. Exercise can be as simple as a nice brisk walk or low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints, such as Tanner’s Tai Chi for Health classes. Tai chi has been shown to improve joint function, improve balance, increase muscle strength and more. You can find a schedule of tai chi classes from Tanner here.
Manage your weight. Another way to help prevent OA is to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight is the No. 1 preventable risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis. Excess weight can put stress on your knee joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. Tanner’s Get Healthy, Live Well offers a free Living Well Workshop that can help you manage a variety of health conditions, including being overweight. You’ll learn healthy, effective strategies from a health coach at Tanner that you can use to help you manage your weight.
Take an active role in your health. This includes speaking with your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist about what more you can do to lower your risk for developing OA, which may include other lifestyle changes, injury prevention and chronic disease management. Unfortunately, OA can’t always be prevented. If you are living with knee pain, a physician can determine if you have OA and can provide a treatment plan that’s right for you to help you stop hurting and get moving again without the pain.
You don’t have to let knee pain slow you down. Learn more about the orthopedic care available at Tanner Ortho and Spine Center at TannerOrtho.org. For more information, about Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic, visit CarrolltonOrtho.com or call 770-834-0873.