Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic joint condition. It causes local inflammation and breakdown of cartilage with joint structural changes that provoke pain and loss of function that results in a considerable reduction in quality of life. Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is one of the most disabling osteoarthritic conditions and it’s becoming more prevalent. So, what can be done to reduce the risk for osteoarthritis of the knee?
1) Weight loss. Obese men and women are four times more likely develop KOA than their non-obese peers! Past research suggests that a loss of 11 pounds (4.99 kg) can reduce KOA risk in some individuals by as much as 50%.
2) Exercise. Studies have shown that weakness of the quadriceps femoris (the front thigh muscle group) increases the risk of developing KOA. The good news is that strengthening exercises are very effective in reducing or eliminating that risk, as even a minor increase in strength is beneficial. Squat wall slides work well if the KOA is not too advanced. In which case, knee extension water exercises and/or light weights from sitting may be a better starting option. Your chiropractor will instruct you in this process. Additionally, cartilage does not have a blood supply and requires compression forces to draw nutrients into the tissue. Too much sedentary behavior can dehydrate the joints, elevating the risk for poor joint health.
3) Avoid knee injury. A long-term study that included 1,321 graduates of Johns Hopkins Medical School reported that a knee injury can increase the risk of future KOA by three to five times! Such injuries can largely be avoided by the following: avoid knee bending greater than 90 degrees when squatting; avoid twisting the lower leg during activities; land with the bent knees when jumping; warm up before physical activity and cool down afterward; wear shoes that fit properly, provide shock absorption, and give stability; and exercise on soft surfaces if possible (avoid asphalt or concrete). If you have an injury, prompt care is very important, and modifying activities and/or utilizing a brace to help stabilize the joint is wise. Your chiropractic can guide you in this process!
4) Proper nutrition. Although there is no specific diet that can prevent KOA, an anti-inflammatory diet pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help reduce inflammation in the joints.
Additionally, improper biomechanics that can result from dysfunction in the ankle, hip, and lower back can place excess stress on the knee. If you experience pain or disability in these areas, consult with your doctor of chiropractic as managing an ankle condition today could stave off a future problem in one or both knees. And if you’re experiencing pain in your knee, your doctor of chiropractic can help manage the condition with a multimodal approach that may include manual therapies, modalities, specific exercises, and nutritional advice.
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