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One of the first questions I sometimes hear from people who have knee pain is: Doc, do you think it is arthritis? The answer is, invariably, please tell me more about your pain. There are many causes of knee pain and arriving at an accurate diagnosis begins with a full, comprehensive medical history and physical examination. Osteoarthritis is one of the more common causes of knee pain in people over the age of 55. However, there are many other potential causes in this population of people as well. For example, knee pain can be due to:
Ø A meniscus tear
Ø A ligament tear, sprain, or strain
Ø Malalignment of the patella (knee cap) leading to pain beneath the patella
If you are getting older, then you might want to read about how to prevent knee pain. Since none of us are getting any younger, I guess everyone should read this; our knees are just getting older like the rest of our parts. Here are a few tips to help you avoid knee pain.
Keep Your Legs Strong: Those big thigh muscles really do support the knee when you’re walking, lifting, climbing and squatting. A simple but effective exercise is simply doing a short-arc knee extension while your knee is supported on a pillow; ankle weights are optional.
Be Kind to Your Knees: The days of old when you could pound the pavement are gone. Now, as you are getting older, there is less cushioning in your knees. Runners might need to switch to biking or swimming. Tennis players might need to switch to playing doubles or find a different more knee-friendly sport.
Wear Good Shoes: Time and time again, someone complaining of knee pain is wearing flip-flops, a shoe that is in the Hall of Sham...
Human beings are well designed for many things. We have large brains for poetry and quantum mechanics; we are good long distance runners, and of course have these awesome opposable thumbs. Unfortunately, some parts are not designed very well for our 21st century lifestyles. The low back , or lumbar spine, is first on my list for sending back (or forward?) to the engineers. A close second though might be the " knee cap " or patellofemoral joint.
The "knee cap" or patella is an ovoid shaped bone whose main purpose is to act as a fulcrum that big muscle on the front of your thigh, the quadriceps. (I'll wait while you grab your high school physics book). There are plenty of folks who do not have patellae, but because this causes the quad muscle to work inefficiently, few of these folks can run or climb stairs well. The design issue with the patella is that it articulates, or rubs up against, the end of the femur bone (thus the "patellofemoral" joint). For those of us who have pa...
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