Are your knees feeling sore? Or perhaps a bit stiff?
If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many Americans suffer from knee pain for a variety of reasons, and the numbers keep growing.
So let’s look at what might be causing your “creaking” knees.
The knee is the body’s workhorse joint
The knee is not only one of the largest joints in the body, but it also is one of the most complex. Its anatomical structure is such that it moves like a hinge, allowing us to walk, jump, squat and sit, and it can withstand some serious heavy lifting. However, that same structure also makes it very prone to wear and tear and, of course, pain and injury.
Most common cause of “creaky” knees: Osteoarthritis
“Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is one of the most common problems that orthopedic surgeons see on a daily basis,” said Matthew Hess, MD, orthopedic surgeon with Kettering Health Network.
Often called degenerative joint disease, or “wear and tear” arthritis, OA is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million adults nationwide.
Certain risk factors exist that are fueling the rise in osteoarthritis cases.
“The most common predisposing factors for knee pain are previous injury to the knee, repetitive impact activities on the knee joint (overuse), and a high body mass index (being overweight),” explained Dr. Hess.
Other risk factors include:
- Age – The risk for developing OA increases with age.
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop OA than men, especially after age 50.
- Genetics – People with a family history of OA are more likely to develop the disease. Additionally, people with OA in the hand are more likely to develop OA in other joints.
When to see a doctor
“A patient should seek an opinion from a professional if they are having pain that is unrelieved by rest, ice, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicines, or if the pain is severe and preventing them from putting weight on the lower extremity,” said Dr. Hess.
Thankfully, Dr. Hess says that the majority of knee pain can be treated non-surgically with things such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, ice, rest and injections into the knee joint.
Jennifer Ambos, a physical therapist with Kettering Sports Medicine Center, says that there are many things individuals can do on their own to help prevent future or treat current knee pain.
- Range-of-motion exercises often prescribed by a physical therapist can be done at home
- Non-impact exercise such as biking, swimming, and elliptical machine
- If overweight, seeking guidance on proper nutrition and weight loss
- Drinking plenty of water and decreasing sugary drinks, which have been shown to increase joint pain and OA
If you want to learn more about treating knee pain, attend one of our events you can find here.