Health Tip of the Month – Osteoarthritis
Knee pains are almost consistent with advancing age. It a degenerative disease resulting from wear and tear of cartilage – a cushioning tissue which prevents friction between the thigh and shin bones.
For an illness which is progressively congruous with senescence, we attempt to put down some valuable educational insights which we may bestow a new dimension towards self- care for your knee.
Respect your Knee:
- Knee is the largest and the most complex joint of the human body, and supports the weight of almost the entire body—often 700 to 1,100 Newtons (approx. 71 – 112 kgs)
- While running, the forces can easily exceed 2,000 to 3,400 Newtons (approx. 203 -346 kgs) at the contact points of each knee, thus making knee is one of the most used and abused joints.
- The knee is also more vulnerable to injury than other joints because it is one of the most mobile and flexible joints in the body. The more mobile a joint is, the less stable the joint is, and, as a result, the more vulnerable it is to injury.
- By the age of 85, even an average sedentary individual will easily have clocked 160,000 kms and an active person over 320,000 kms, or almost 8 times around the world.
- If maintained by proper care, and not injured or abused, such as in sports, the knee joint should last for over 200 million bends. An artificial knee joint designed by the world’s top scientists using cutting edge technologies, typically, at the most, lasts only around 20 years, while the original usually lasts a lifetime, in spite of the fact that many of us abuse the joint – this itself is the greatest testimony to the fact that there is no comparable substitute for an original knee, hence you require to diligently respect your knees through courteous use in our daily chores of life.
Simple Acts for Healthy Knee:
Weight Loss is a therapy in Osteoarthritis:
Maintaining healthy weight is the simplest way of reducing weight burden on the knee. Results of a study indicate that each weight-loss unit was associated with an approximate 4-unit reduction in knee-joint forces; thus concluding that each pound of weight lost will result in a 4-fold reduction in the load exerted on the knee per step during daily activities; and this benefit accumulated over thousands of steps per day, appears to be clinically meaningful.
Thigh strengthening exercises:
Thigh muscles’ strengthening helps to re-distribute the burden of body weight across the lower limb above the knee, thereby taking the edge of the burden from the knee, in turn attenuating knee pain and assisting in improving long term outcomes.
Data suggests that non aerobic exercises for muscles around knee may augment the effect of other therapeutic interventions like medical therapy, acupuncture, and other modalities for management of knee osteoarthritis.
Prolonged squatting is a strong risk factor for development of Osteoarthritis and it may augment the burden on the cushioning cartilage, and should be strictly avoided to minimum.
Rest the injured knee:
Knee injuries in younger days which are poorly healed may lead to development of Osteoarthritis earlier in life and may be associated with poorer outcomes in the longer run. Hence, any knee injury must be respected with required rest and immobilisation to avoid untoward reciprocations in the form of early osteoarthritis.
Non Drug Options:
Glucosamine and Chondroitin:
Cartilage degeneration is the core defect of Osteoarthritis and hence cartilage nourishment sounds logical to predominantly slow down the progression of disease and offer pain relief.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agents:
Natural anti-inflammatory botanicals supplements like Boswellia Serrata, Rosa Canina, Green Lipped Mussel and Curcuma Longa may offer significant pain relief and improve functional outcomes in osteoarthritis. They act on unique pathways of inflammation making them gentler on GI side effects compared to conventional NSAIDs.
Vitamin D and Calcium:
Vitamin D and Calcium have no independent role in Osteoarthritis, but strong bones may help to reduce the brunt of pressure on the aging cartilage.
Many osteoarthritic individuals prefer local administration for prompt pain relief and sense of warmth on affected knee. Natural anti-inflammatory botanicals like Rosemary Oil and Arnica Montana have been extensively and successfully used in Europe for pain relief in arthritis. Wintergreen Oil and Capsaicin may be utilised as counter irritants for masking severe pains.
Knee Caps tend to support the inflamed tissues around the knee joint and may assist in pain relief. They often render a sense of confidence to osteoarthritic individuals while walking.
When you happen to notice the following, please think beyond Osteoarthritis, and seek medical advice at the earliest.
Red and Hot Knee:
Osteoarthritis is chronic (long standing) inflammatory process secondary to degeneration, and very unlikely to show signs of acute (sudden onset) inflammation like heat and redness. If you notice such signs on your painful knee, do not take them lightly, it may not necessarily be osteoarthritis, but rather could be an infection.
Other Systemic Signs:
If knee pains associate with pain or stiffness in other joints, fever, rashes etc. it could mean something else apart from osteoarthritis. It may be ideal to be undergo a medical evaluation.
Grade IV Osteoarthritis (Kellgren Lawrence scale):
It’s a sign of severe cartilage damage, less likely to respond to non-surgical interventions.
Summary / Take Home Messages
Osteoarthritis could well be summarized as the knee of old age rather than merely a disease. Empowering yourself with these very facts, understanding the grades of osteoarthritis, rationalising the need and utility of pharmacological interventions and maximizing the potential to non-pharmacological modalities could be the most integrative approach to allow your knees take strong strides through the twilight years of life.
An Unrestricted Health Awareness Initiative from Makers of
This article is an attempt to educate the patient; it is by no means a replacement for individualistic medical advice.
© 2017. Zifam Pinnacle Pty. Ltd.