You step off the curb, and, BANG, you get a shot of pain from your knee. Or you start that trendy new exercise program and, POP, your knee twinges and spasms. Maybe you don’t think anymore about that initial knee pain. But should you?
RICE to the rescue. As soon as you know you’ve hurt your knee, follow the RICE rule: Rest, Ice, Compression (wrap it), and Elevation. “But if you’re unable to bear any weight on the knee, if it feels unstable, or you’re unable to move it, then seek medical attention,” says James V. Worthen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with St. Vincent’s Orthopedics in Birmingham.
Before you change your routine. Knee pain usually pops up when people start some new activity, especially in those over 50. “Especially if there’s a preexisting injury to your knee, it’s important to understand the injury, so you don’t aggravate it,” says Dr. Worthen. Get a professional opinion before trying any new dance moves, exercise routines, or hobbies. Even gardening creates potential risks to the knee. Professional knowledge is your best armor.
One pound equals three. The best thing you can do for your knees is stay trim. “Keep the weight off and keep moving,” says Dr. Worthen. “Just with walking, each pound of body weight means about three to five pounds gets transmitted through your knee with every step.”
Age is your enemy. Not a surprising statement, perhaps, but worth mentioning because those over 50 have a less flexible meniscus — the cartilage padding between the end of your thigh and the shin bone. “That tears with lesser energy now, so even rising up from bending over while twisting during yard work can damage it,” says Dr. Worthen. Just be aware, he says, and that’s your best prevention.
What’s the cure? Most knee pain can be helped with time, therapy or medication from your physician. But many can require a specialist’s touch from an orthopedic surgeon. “Generally, in an orthopedic practice, knee pain is the number one thing we see,” says Dr. Worthen. But even then, only about 10% end up requiring knee surgery as the first option.
“There’s no magic bullet as far as prevention of knee pain,” says Dr. Worthen. But there’s no need to suffer with it when a visit to your physician or a knee specialist, like an orthopedic surgeon, could repair it or at least relieve it. “That’s what we’re here for,” he says.
by Jane Ehrhardt
This article written and brought to you by BirminghamDoctors.com.