Protecting Your Knees and Treating Knee Arthritis


Our knees can withstand an incredible amount of wear and tear.
In fact, the knee is the largest and strongest joint in the body. It’s made up of three bones and the meniscus, a rubbery cushion that acts as our body’s natural shock absorber, all wrapped up in smooth, protective cartilage. It’s a powerhouse of a joint that can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure each day. It’s a good thing, too: Every step you take, the force on your knee is 1.5 times your body weight. This means that if you’re a 200-pound person, your knee is withstanding 300 pounds of pressure with every step –– and that’s just walking. Climbing stairs, squatting to tie your shoe, picking something up off the floor and other daily activities increase that pressure incrementally.
While the knee is the MVP joint of the body, it can begin to wear out over time if protective measures aren’t taken. Without proper exercise or footwear and with overuse, knee arthritis can set in. Knee arthritis is the breakdown of joint cartilage on the ends of the bones, which then causes the narrowing of joint space and the onset of bone spurs. Symptoms of knee arthritis include knee stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, pain, knee locking or buckling and a grinding or popping sensation. 
Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? Luckily, whether you’re currently suffering from knee arthritis or want to protect yourself from the possibility of it in the future, there are a variety of surgical and non-surgical ways to prevent and treat the issue.
At a recent lecture in our Thrive! series, Goshen Health’s Lindsay Neff, a Certified Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner with Goshen Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, spoke about ways to prevent and treat knee arthritis.
Depending on the severity of the knee arthritis, surgical treatment include:

  • Knee arthroscopy
    • A knee arthroscopy or “clean out surgery” is often performed when you have meniscus issues.
  • Partial knee replacement
    • A partial knee replacement involves replacing one side of knee.
  • Total knee replacement
    • A total knee replacement involves removing all damaged parts of the knee joint and replacing it with a prosthesis. After total knee replacement surgery, you usually start with a rolling walker and transition to a cane. Physical therapy for a total knee replacement is typically six to eight weeks.

Non-surgical options include:

  • Ice and/or heat
  • Pain reliever (OTC and prescription NSAIDs)
  • Pain relieving creams (OTC and prescription)
  • Braces
  • Cortisone injections
    • A Cortisone injection is used to reduce swelling and inflammation; frequency is every three months, if needed.
  • Viscosupplementation injections
    • Viscosupplementation injection is a shot to try supplement the fluid in your knee to lubricate and cushion the joint.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate
    • If you want to try Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements, take for three months and then stop for one week to evaluate if it is helping.
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss
    • With weight loss, every five pounds makes a difference.

Staying active with low impact activity

Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Consider joining Silver Sneakers, Medicare covers the membership fee. 
The best low impact activities include walking, biking and swimming. When biking, don’t keep your knee in a bent position, be sure to repetitively straighten it out. Water aerobics allows you to exercise with 70 to 80 percent pressure reduction on your joints. If walking, biking or swimming is not an option for you, do chair exercises. You can reduce stiffness while sitting by periodically pumping your knees. 
It is also important to strengthen your quadriceps muscle to improve knee stabilization. However, avoid twisting, kneeling, lunging and squatting activities in your exercise. 

Learn more about how you can gain relief from arthritis and joint pain by clicking here or completing a form to connect with one of our orthopedics and sports medicine experts who can answer your questions about services we offer.
Are you interested in learning more about how to optimize your health? Join us for our monthly Thrive series on the first Tuesday of each month from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Greencroft Community Center at 1820 Greencroft Blvd, Goshen, IN 46526. Registration is not required. Please call (574) 364-2496 for information.
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