Recently an overweight, middle-aged man came into my office suffering with aching knees. It seems that his favorite exercise of running was playing havoc on his body and he was considering giving up this sport for good. I explained the possible causes for his pain could be any of these conditions: tendinitis (inflamed tendons), bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs around the joint) or perhaps even cartilage damage. The fact he was over fifty led me to believe that is was most likely osteoarthritis.
If you sense that your joints or bones are hurting from a strenuous activity it too might be osteoarthritis. This medical condition could develop in any of your joints, but the knee’s complex design and its position in the body as a weight-bearing joint, make it more susceptible.
As you get older, gravity and the everyday wear and tear on your joints gradually wear away the protective cartilage that cushions the knee. The bone in the joint gets exposed, and you begin to have pain, stiffness, maybe even buckling or swelling of the knee. Arthritis can also develop as a result of trauma, such as ligament damage or bone fracture.
So what can you do to help those aching knees?
Make A Few Easy Changes In Your Lifestyle
Your first step is to lose excess body weight. Taking the extra stress off your joints may relieve a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Middle aged people often try to stay in shape with running, tennis or other high impact exercise, never realizing that these activities tend to hasten the wear and tear process. But don’t let aging knees become an excuse for lack of exercise. You can benefit just as much from low-impact activities such as Pilates, water aerobics, walking, cycling or swimming.
I highly recommend you stretch before any exercising. It also beneficial to warm up the muscles slightly with light walking before you do stretching exercises .Always stretch slowly. It also wise to continue stretching after you are done with your workout!
Many arthritis patients can find benefit from physical therapy. A professional therapist will teach you the proper methods of exercise in order to improve flexibility, range of motion, and strength. If you’d had an injury to the knee, therapy can speed recovery and may reduce the chances of developing arthritis later on.
When you’ve got troublesome knees, it’s not always convenient to stay off of them. You may find that a brace, splint, cane or elastic bandage can help you stay active.
Treat Immediate Pain
When pain flares, stay off the knee. Keeping weight and pressure off the joint allows inflammation to subside more quickly. Use crutches if needed. For immediate relief, try an ice or gel pack, especially right after physical activity, to help control swelling. Try alternating the ice with a heating pad. You might also try heat just before athletic activity to loosen the joint. Don’t leave either ice or heat on the joint for more than 20 minutes at a time. A hot bath may be comforting, as well, and a hot shower upon arising in the morning can soothe stiffness.
Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often recommended for arthritis pain, but keep in mind that, if taken too frequently, these drugs can cause stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding–even kidney or liver damage. For natural pain relief, try a soothing ginger tea. Brew 3 – 4 slices of fresh ginger in 1 cup of boiling water. In a Danish study, ginger relieved pain for 55% of osteoarthritis sufferers.
Start Early With Supplements and Diet
Don’t ignore pain. If you take action right away with appropriate supplements and diet, you can often reverse the effects of arthritis.
–Glucosamine, a natural chemical, helps to rebuild cartilage and fluid around the joints. Always get the sulfate form, an additional cartilage builder.
–Chondroitin, found naturally in cartilage, may reduce pain and slow breakdown of cartilage.
–Bromelain is an enzyme which helps reduce inflammation. Take a supplement, or get it from eating lots of fresh pineapple.
–Omega-3 fatty acids, especially those from fish oils, lubricate the joints and control pain.
–MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a sulfur compound essential for joint and tissue repair.
–Boswellia, an Ayurvedic herb, reduces inflammation and restores blood vessels around tissues.
–Borage seed oil contains a fatty acid (GLA) which eases pain.
Eat plenty of foods high in vitamin C (such as oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, and peppers), or take a supplement. Boston University School of Medicine researchers studied people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Those who took over 200 mg. a day of vitamin C were three times less likely to experience unfavorable symptoms than those who took less than 120 mg. a day. Try eating more garlic, onions and eggs. These foods contain sulfur, which aids in repair of bone, cartilage and connective tissue.
If your knees hurt either from arthritis that comes from aging or from a previous trauma to the knee, don’t think you have to live with it the rest of your life. There’s plenty you can do–without living on pain relievers! And if you start soon enough, you’ll most likely be able to avoid knee replacement surgery, as well.