Over time, wear and tear on th eknee can erode the protective cartilage that cushions the surfaces of the knee joint. when the cartilage erodes, the result is often a painful condition known as osteoarthritis.
Luckily, there are many ways to improve the most frustrating symptoms.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial.
"The knees are especially impacted by body weight," says Dr. Matthew T. DesJardins. "When you are walking down stairs, for example, the force placed on the knee can be as much as three times your body weight. Even modes weight loss can have a huge impact on how your knees treat you. A healthy body weight is the best way to prevent and/or treat the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis."
Low-impact cardiovascular exercise
Examples include swimming, elliptical machines and cycling. These can be very therapeutic for the knee and prolong the life of the joint.
Strength training is key
"We lose muscle mass as we age, and the muscles are the supportive structure, so the stronger we can make our thigh and hip muscles, the less knee pain we will have," Dr. DesJardins says.
While weight management and exercise are often highly effective, sometimes osteoarthritis progresses to a point where knee replacement surgery is indicated. "The decision is really based on how severe your symptoms are for your lifestyle. You could have 10 people with the exact same-looking X-ray, but the decision about surgery will be different for all 10 of those patients, based on their lifestyles."