Risk Factors for Knee Pain

November 12, 2012

Risk Factors for Knee Pain

More and more Americans are being diagnosed with crippling knee pain. The rise in knee problems is due both to good reasons and bad reasons. But the good news is that knee pain is largely preventable if Americans avoid becoming obese and wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes. Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis, a leading cause of severe knee pain.

Why Knees are At Risk

Although arthritis can attack any joint in the body, it usually first attacks the knees. Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Shook, MD states that of all the patients he sees, over half suffer from knee pain. The other half complain about pain in the shoulders, ankles, hips or elbows. According to medical experts in the American government, one-fifth of seniors aged 65 or over will develop knee pain by 2030 – unless efforts can be made now by younger people to take care of their knees.

Unlike other body joints such as the wrists or ankles, the knees do the most lifting in the body. The knees often take the weight of a person when he or she kneels, bends over or rises from a sitting position. Knees can move in six different ways. Although this makes the knees very flexible, it also makes them more prone to injuries than more rigid joints, notes Dr. Shook.

Arthritis Risks

Improved health care and nutrition have helped current generations of Americans to live longer than ever before. But aging knees are not as flexible or resilient as younger knees. Knees inevitably deteriorate as a person ages because knees do so much work. Over the decades, muscles in the knee shrink. With muscle loss, the knees loose strength and their capacity to bear weight or move.

As knees age, the cartilage in between knee bones deteriorates. Cartilage is a sponge-like material that helps cushions bones and keeps them from grinding together. Currently, there is no known way to prevent cartilage deterioration in knees for senior citizens. Since the deterioration is inevitable, experts state that by maintaining a healthy body weight can keep extra weight from straining the knees and causing osteoarthritis.

A Weighty Issue

The US government states that over half of the adult population is overweight and one-third is obese, or severely overweight. For example, a woman that is 5 foot 6 inches should ideally weigh 155 pounds. But one third of American women this height weighs 186 pounds or more, which means they are classified as obese and are headed down the road for severe knee pain.

To reduce the chances of developing knee pain, doctors advise people to not only maintain a healthy weight, but begin a regular exercise routine that includes weight-bearing exercises. This can not only help strengthen the joints but gradually toughen them up, even when the muscles begin shrinking. Doctors also advise people to avoid wearing fashionably uncomfortable shoes such as stiletto heels. These hoes place undue strain on the knees, since the heels and feet cannot take the weight.


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