One in three people over age 45 has some kind of knee pain. Why are our knees so prone to pain? They’re the largest and heaviest hinge joints in the body. They’re also the most complex. Knees bend, straighten, twist and rotate, which is why they suffer more injuries than other joints do. Whether your pain is due to arthritis or other diseases, injury, overuse, being overweight or plain old aging, you need relief.
Many people undergo surgery, either to repair joint damage from injury or arthritis, reconstruct torn ligaments or to replace the knee completely. But not every knee problem requires surgery. Take the following steps to reduce your risk of injury or disease and to keep your knees healthy:
Keep extra pounds off. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your knees. Being overweight puts strain on your joints, raising your risk of ligament and tendon injuries and osteoarthritis.
Be strong. Weak muscles are a leading cause of knee injuries. Keep your knees’ supporting muscles, your quadriceps and hamstrings, strong by doing knee extensions, hamstring curls and leg presses.
Choose your workout wisely. If your knees hurt after jogging or playing sports, consider switching to swimming, water aerobics or other low-impact exercises for a few days a week to provide relief.
Get the right fit. A well-fitting shoe helps you to maintain stability. Choose footwear that suits your sport. Running shoes aren’t made to pivot and turn, for instance, but tennis and racquetball sneakers are.
Don’t overdo it. If your knees hurt or you’re tired, take a break. You’re more likely to get injured if you’re tired.
Some types of knee pain need immediate care. Call your doctor if you:
- can’t bear weight on your knee
- have visible inflammation or redness
- see an obvious deformity
- have a fever or extreme pain