John Hardy, Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon at Spire The Glen Hospital Bristol, shares his advice on keeping knees in good shape and how to ease pain when it first occurs.
1. Get support
If you don’t want to suffer with knee pain, it’s important to wear sports shoes that offer the correct support, particularly while exercising. Some knee braces are specifically designed to provide support in the right place. The choice of the correct knee support should be discussed with your sports specialist as there are 90 different supports and braces for 90 different conditions.
Tip: Invest in a good pair of trainers or sport specific shoes and boots that fit properly. Consider changing these every six months.
2. Lose weight
It’s not surprising that carrying extra weight means you are putting undue stress on your joints, particularly your knees. Medical professionals claim one pound of body weight is equal to three to seven pounds of extra weight on your knees, so even losing a few pounds can make a big difference to easing knee pain and preventing it occurring in the first place.
Tip: As well as a low calorie diet, choose a gentle exercise like swimming or cycling which doesn’t place any strain on joint.
3. Ice it
If you do suffer with knee pain, particularly after working out, put an ice pack on your knees. This is part of the age-old advice RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Ice is thought to act by reducing blood flow and thereby reduces inflammation around the joint.
Tip: Keep several ice packs in the freezer so they ready when you need them.
4. Try manipulation
Many people notice a sudden knee pain without any particular injury. I have come up with something I call the ‘Hardy shuffle test’, which I use as both a diagnostic tool and in some patients it cures the pain of impingement.
Tip: To perform the ‘Hardy shuffle test’ at home, Kick flick your knee to see if you can shift the pain. If the pain is coming from under the knee cap while going up the stairs, sit on the edge of the stair. Relax your thigh muscle and flick your knee cap side to side to flick out the small fold of fat that is being pinched.
5. Don’t ignore pain
Many people brush off knee pain when they first start to experience it and believe that it will eventually go away. Early diagnosis is key to preventing more severe and irreversible damage. If you have a sharp, intermittent, localised pain you should get checked out earlier rather than later in order to stop some conditions getting worse.
Tip: If you have a pain you can point to on you knee and it is tender to touch get off to the GP to check you have not got an unstable meniscus tear. This is the most common cause of osteoarthritis if untreated. Most GPs will take a history, examine your knee for point tenderness and arrange an MRI scan.
6. Make healthy lifestyle changes
Vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium and vitamin D support healthy bones and greens, such as spinach, kale and cabbage, contain vitamin K.
Tip: Stop smoking. The carbon monoxide from smoking displaces 20% of the oxygen from you haemoglobin. Tissues need this oxygen when trying to heal up an injury.
7. Keep moving but get a good night’s sleep
Cycling is a proven way to encourage cartilage to grow and heal. Sleep can do wonders for joint discomfort. So get some early nights in to ensure you get your full eight hours. You will feel better for it.
Tip: Look for ways to incorporate gentle activity into your daily routine such as cycling to work or to the shops.
8. Change the way you exercise
High-impact sports such as running and racquet sports don’t do your knees any favours. If you’re suffering with knee pain take up a gentler exercise such as swimming or yoga – at least for a while to let the inflammation go down. Continuing to do high-impact exercise could just make things worse.
Tip: Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, or you are sensitive to them, try a non- steroidal anti-inflammatory tablet after food the night before exercise.
For more information on Mr Hardy and his services, click here.
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