It’s no secret that knees take a beating. They’re responsible for bearing weight and transferring it to the ground with every step we take, so it’s no wonder they can be injured or wear out over time. If you want to preserve your knee function and avoid injury, here are three tips to follow.
The knees have one of the more common arthritic joints in the body. We think of it as it gives us a very simplistic movement. We often think of it as just a band door hinge, right? But, indeed it’s quite a complex joint because it’s involved not only in moving your knee but also in stabilizing your ankle.
Knees are not only involved in hinges. It also is involved in twisting your ankle. There are four bones that come together to make up your knee. Each of these is really integral in making the stress distribution even in the knees.
If you notice most of us, when we stand, we’re standing with wider hips than where our knees are positioned in space. This means that the inside part of our knees often gets a lot more stress. The other big part is, the bone called the fibula, it’s a tiny bone that runs on the side of your leg and stabilizes the main strut system (leg, body, ankle, and leg muscles). A lot of times this structure can start to get weekly and wobbly as you age. That causes more stress on the knee itself, which will end up in arthritic changes.
Instability can cause the arthritic pains
Now, one of the things that a lot of people are not aware of is that there are multiple layers of protection around these joints in the knee. One of the things that happen is as we are younger, we have all sorts of movements where we use the leg and the knees. In particular, we have our MCL (medial collateral ligament) which spans the distance from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone) and is on the inner side of the knee joint.
It’s quite common that we see somebody will have some old injury to their MCL. Since the body is amazing and it heals wonderfully, that injury scarred down just enough so it will be fine. But the problem is before there were multiple layers of protection present. Now, there’s a little bit less of that layer of protection.
What does that end up causing overtime? Over time if the ligament has scars within it, it will break down faster than the original ligament does. And as those scars start to break down that old injury that took place previously can then show can then show up later in life. As the scar breaks down, it resurfaces as an instability.
It’s those instabilities that cause pain and subsequent arthritis. Imagine a big wall and you try to knock it down with a wrecking ball. Think about how easily that’s going to go. Now, if you have four walls in a row, try to take that wrecking ball through there. It’s going to be harder for those walls to fall. That’s similar with your knees when you’re young and have all those layers of protection.
If we start to lose those over time, these layers of protection can break down as easily as the walls can break down easier if there’s only one wall versus four walls. This applies similarly to developing arthritis in your knee because these layers of protection aren’t there anymore.
Does this mean there’s no hope for anybody who has these injuries? Not at all.
Here are three tips on how to preserve the functionality of your knee as you age.
- If you have an injury, make sure to get some really good rehabilitation for it.
One of the purposes of rehab is to stress structures in the direction of forces in your body, enough to where those scars don’t actually form. If you can get the appropriate kind of rehab early on, then that issue might resolve entirely and never leave a mark that could subsequently, or later in life become a problem.
- Stay physically fit and active.
If you can stay active and fit, even those old scars can remain viable and healthy because you’ve got other structures around it, creating more strength. Remember that wrecking ball analogy? You can put up more walls in order to protect your body from even getting down to that pet scar.
- Don’t sit on an injured or painful knee too long.
If you had an old injury and now it’s resurfacing, don’t think it’s just going to go away because it did the first time. Especially as we age, our capacity to repair and layer down new healthy tissue, as opposed to scar tissue, becomes less.
If you’re a teenager and you injure your knee, it’s very different than if you’re an older adult. Over the age of 35, it’s more probable that you’re going to have a lingering issue because your body’s capacity for repair is slowing down.
Treating that injury early is an ounce of prevention, a preventative pound of cure. A lot of times the cures are massive surgeries. Whereas the prevention could just be some simple injections and exercises.
Let me share with you a story about what happened with Dr. Escaloni.
He had some knee pains before. He mentioned that after looking back on things, he waited way too long to get a little bit of help. He said he honestly just didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what options were available. He is a great physical therapist himself.
He had this knee pain that was crackling and hurting. He wasn’t going to be able to do as much as his weight training as he wanted to. He was starting to have problems going up and down the stairs. Moreover, he couldn’t participate as much in his kids’ wrestling, coaching, or Brazilian jujitsu. He loves doing those activities.
These started to get worse despite him doing a lot of quality exercises, failing a lot of the first couple of advice items that we gave to him. What happened after we did a diagnostic ultrasound was we were able to find that some of the deeper ligaments in his knees were in fact, torn and injured.
Dr. Escaloni got lucky and was able to do a good prolotherapy injection. At first, he admitted feeling so nervous about how bad it was going to hurt. But then after getting that done, he was able to start squatting again. The joint was more state. He was able to do a lot of exercises, following tips one and two. It had more of an effect because now there was better stability of the joint.
He, later on, said that this is something he isn’t going to wait for too long anymore. The second he will feel any inkling of pain down in his knees, he will be coming right back to the clinic ASAP. Like him, we shouldn’t be going through ten years of suffering when it’s just ten minutes of relief after treatment. We’ve all had some sort of knee injury at some point. Those old injuries can creep back upon us, for sure.
You’re outside on a beautiful day, and you want to start doing more things: gardening, running, exercising, all of those things, But if you feel any sort of pain is getting in your way at the knee, come on by. We’ll be able to find this so easily by doing some diagnostic ultrasound so we can figure out where exactly the problems coming from.
The knee is one of the most commonly afflicted joints in the body, due to its many functions and propensity for injury. However, there are measures you can take to protect your knees and preserve their functionality. If you are experiencing pain in your knees, our team at Wellward can help. We offer a variety of pain management procedures that can help you get back to living life without knee pain. To schedule a discovery call with us and learn more about how we can help, please click here. Thanks for reading!
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional