A significant percentage of the patients visiting an Orthopaedician present with a nagging knee pain. This incidence gradually increases with the patient’s age and causes disability.
There can be various reasons for a painful knee which range from sports injuries to age related degenerative changes. It is of utmost importance to establish an exact diagnosis, recognise the causative factors and rectify them to prevent progression of the disease.
Below are certain common Do’s and Dont’s for a healthy knee:
- Maintain a healthy body weight: Follow the WHO guidelines to determine the appropriate body weight as per one’s height. Overlooking excessive weight can be a major risk factor for disease progression. The mechanical pressure of those excessive kilos weighs on the already damaged knee.
- A balanced diet with adequate protein, calcium and Vit D intake is helpful to keep your joints healthy.
- Cycling, swimming and Cross trainer are excellent exercises which prevent excessive strain on a painful knee. Compound exercises are a great way to keep in shape and strengthen those muscles.
- Use knee support braces to externally support your knee during activities. There are numerous kinds of braces available, both over the counter and customisable, which should be used as per the recommendation of a specialist. Certain off loading braces help in changing the alignment of the leg to protect your knee.
- Do use POLICE therapy in case of acute injuries: P.O.L.I.C.E. is an acronym which stands for Protection, Optimum Loading, Icing, Compression and Elevation. After any acute trauma or sport injury its advisable to follow it.
- Do use appropriate footwear : avoid wearing tall heels for prolonged periods and preferably use soft cushioned footwear such as sports shoes while prolonged standing or exercising.
- Do solicit an expert advise and avoid home remedies for that persisting knee pain.
- Avoid sitting cross legged/squatting and reduce stair climbing if you are developing advanced age related degenerative knee changes. Such stressful activities put undue stress on an already worn off cartilage.
- Avoid impactful activities such as jumping/ running on a treadmill or on an inclined hard surface if you have a painful knee. There are better ways to maintain fitness which will keep your joints happy.
- Don’t go for prolonged rest. A short term rest and activity modification is beneficial to recover from any acute injury or pain. However, if the rest period is prolonged, it can lead to muscle wasting and deteriorated functional outcomes.
- Don’t risk preventable falls and injuries: Prevention is always better than cure. Be it a simple fall in an elderly or a sudden twisting injury while playing a contact sport, most of these injuries are preventable if foreseeable changes are made. Keeping the eyesight, hearing and cognition functioning at the best along with looking into the preventive measures at home are helpful for the aged. A customised athlete conditioning programme for overall fitness of a sports person is helpful to reduce the impact of sport injuries which can otherwise devastate a sporting career.
- Don’t ignore any long standing knee pain, clicking sounds, instability and knee stiffness.
Knee is one of the most important weight bearing joints in our body with its own functional complexity. Knowing and judiciously following the common do’s and don’ts would help in keeping your knee pain under check. It is always wise to know your exact diagnosis and rectify it for an active future.
Dr. Kunal Aneja
MS, DNB, MCh, FACS, FICS, Dip. SICOT, Dip. Football Medicine
Joint Replacement, Joint Preservation & Sports Medicine Specialist