With every step we take, our knees absorb the pressure and strain of our body weight. The joints, muscles, and other surrounding tissues work simultaneously to provide structure, strength, and support. This happens without us being any the wiser, but we can easily forget how hard they’re working!
Over the course of our lifetime, we all experience normal wear and tear on all parts of our bodies. However, as we age our body will inevitably deteriorate and break down. For some individuals, this can happen at a faster rate. Genetics can play a role here because a family history of osteoarthritis can increase the odds of you developing the condition. Additional risk factors include things like knee injuries or being overweight because the joint will need to compensate for the added stressors.
Knee and Joint Pain
The truth is that knee and joint pain can be caused by any number of things. Whether it’s an injury or diagnosis, your pain is valid. At Northeast Knee and Joint Institute, we understand that there are many different factors that can attribute to what you’re suffering through. That’s why we felt it would be helpful to provide you with some information to help you plan for the future of your knees now!
There are ways to prepare your knees for the inevitable wear and tear:
- Strengthen your muscles
- Weight loss
- Increase your range of motion
Strengthen your muscles
The muscles that surround the knee joint help to stabilize the knee joint itself. The muscles work with the joint to absorb the added stress. Therefore, by strengthening the muscles both around the knee joint and throughout the legs and back, you can help to maximize the function of the knee joint.
We have discussed weight loss and how it can help to relieve the additional stress on your knee joints in our previous blog, Weight Loss for Osteoarthritis Relief. For every additional pound you carry equals four pounds of pressure on your joints. So, you can see how being within a healthy weight range can reduce the amount of pressure your joints need to handle.
Increase your range of motion
It’s no surprise that our joints age, and with old age comes aches and pains. There are many factors that can cause aches and pains, but a primary reason is the body’s inability to heal itself as quickly as it could when you were younger.
In this case, it can be important to be sure that you’re following a structured guideline to avoid doing more damage to your knee joints. For example, if you are doing high-impact activities (like jumping rope or running) your knees will need to absorb the shock of the impact, which can add to the stress on the joint. This is when physical therapy is a healthy alternative to a self-created workout routine.
Physical therapy is a beneficial way to ensure you are doing the most appropriate stretches, workouts, and that you’re performing them correctly. It is important that you are only doing exercises that your body can handle. This is when a medical professional can be very important to your long-term success.
Additionally, some exercises can actually do more damage to the knee joint and worsen your symptoms. One example would be squats because the deep bend in your knee mixed with the muscle strength necessary to hold your body weight can negatively impact the cartilage within your knee.
There are healthy exercises that you can do without fear of damage to the knee joint that will also keep your joints active. Some of these exercises include things like walking and swimming.
So what happens when you are already in pain, how can you find relief to dealing with your already damaged knee joints? Well there are plenty of options! Many people find short-term relief and others will look for long-term relief, but how you manage your pain is up to you.
Short-Term Pain Relief
Short-term pain relief is often a quick fix that masks the pain for a time, but it doesn’t address the source of your pain. Common short-term pain relief options include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Prescription medications
- PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation)
- Rest and relaxation
Long-Term Pain Relief
Long-term pain relief takes a deeper approach. While short-term relief is helpful, it is often likely to come back because you aren’t addressing the reason for the pain. Long-term pain relief options may not provide relief indefinitely, but they often result in relief beyond that of the aforementioned alternatives. A few ways to find long-term pain relief include:
- Acupuncture (in multiple sessions)
- Daily meditation
- Diet and weight loss
- Improved posture
- Massages (often with aromatherapy)
- Physical therapy
- Yoga or Tai Chi
Repairing the Damage
There are ways to manage the pain at the source through more invasive procedures. Most often we assume that once the cartilage in our knee joint wears away to nothing, our only option is to replace the entire joint through surgery. While this is common, and many do find relief, it isn’t truly the only way to repair the damage.
Injections Instead of Surgery
Yes, it’s true, once the cartilage breaks down in your knee joint it cannot regenerate itself. But what if it could? At Northeast Knee and Joint Institute, we understand that the damage to a knee joint can be addressed without replacing the entire knee joint. This is because while we cannot rebuild your missing cartilage, we do have regenerative options that can work in place of what’s missing.
Again, we cannot rebuild the cartilage that you have lost. However, we can add a similar material that can act as a shock absorber in place of the missing synovial fluid. This would help to provide the cushioning your joint needs to be able to function properly, and without the painful symptoms that come from bone-on-bone movement!
Our injectable fluids can help to hydrate and protect the joint. When used in combination with platelet-rich plasma or stem cells, the body can adapt and heal without the need for surgery! The growth factors in your own platelets can help to heal the damage from worsening, and in some cases, even repair the damage. Stem cells can help to promote an even deeper healing because the body will assign them to replace the cells that are missing in the targeted area. This means that an injection of stem cells has the potential to become cells that the joint needs to regain its functionality.
Schedule Your Appointment at Northeast Knee and Joint Institute Today!
We are always accepting patients throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and the tri-state area. Our regenerative services offer lasting relief to knee and joint pain, and they offer a safer, less-invasive approach than surgery. If you are looking for knee and joint pain relief, our team of medical experts are looking forward to the opportunity to help you get back on your feet!