Total knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed in the United States each year.
The knee is the largest joint in the human body and is one of the most complex, according to the Florida-based Jewett Orthopedic Clinic. It's comprised of four bones as well as an extensive network of ligaments and muscles that are easily injured and can suffer from the wear and tear of aging.
But experts tell Newsmax that you can preserve the integrity and function of your knees if you follow these steps:
- Maintain a healthy weight. "For every pound of weight you put on, the knees have four more pounds of force on them and even more when you go up and down stairs," says Dr. John-Paul Rue, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mercy Medical Center at Baltimore.
- Choose your activities wisely. While exercise — even running — has been shown to help stave off osteoarthritis of the knee, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a sports medicine expert, says that if you have knee pain, the impact of running can exacerbate the problem. "On the other hand, pedaling done in a smooth rotary motion has almost no impact and is a great way to rehab a damaged knee and protect the joint in the first place," he said. "Swimming is also a great exercise because the knee is protected by the buoyancy of the water. You also want to build the muscles around the knee, so performing squats and lunges can help strengthen these stabilizers. Remember that people over 50 years of age should not squat lower than 90 degrees, as this motion will aggravate the knee joint instead of helping it.
- Wear orthotics. Dr. Richard Berger, an assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center and a leading expert on minimally invasive hip and knee replacement, tells Newsmax that "when your foot excessively pronates or supinates or you are flat-footed or extremely high arched, a simple orthotic in your shoe will help save your knees."
- Take glucosamine with chondroitin. This supplement really does slow the progression of arthritis, says Berger. "It doesn't regrow cartilage, but does stabilize and strengthen what remains."
- Watch your posture. People tend to stoop as they get older, which can shift your body's center of gravity and place too much pressure on your knees and hips. Stand tall, says Shellie Cash, who teaches the Alexander Technique. Proper posture helps reduce pain, increase core strength, and improve flexibility and range of motion. Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and other core strengthening exercises can also help maintain the integrity of your posture.
- Listen to your body. If you have pain and swelling in your knee, take a break, says Mirkin. You may want to apply the RICE treatment — rest, ice, compression, and elevatation — to the knee to alleviate pain. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory can help. Wear a knee brace to protect from further injury.
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