Around 6.5 million citizens in the US could be affected by knee osteoporosis in the next 4 years, a forecast that has been supported by studies on medical trends. This forecast is a threat that can be prevented if due attention is given to one’s health. As lifestyle contributes to this disease, it would be helpful to know the means and ways to prevent it, including the medications and natural remedies to ease the pain out.
Osteoporosis refers to a bone disease caused by a lowering of bone mass and density that will in turn increase the probability of having a bone fracture. This disease makes the bones become weak and brittle and is mostly occurring in human’s hip, wrist or spine. As there has been an observed increase in the occurrence of this bone disease in the US, one type that is being talked about is knee osteoporosis. Putting this topic in the limelight will give us an awareness of the increased chance of every American to acquire knee osteoporosis by the year 2020.
Knee osteoporosis or knee osteoarthritis, as medical experts conveniently call it, happens when the articular cartilage degenerates and no longer perform within its normal level. Articular cartilage is a lining covering the ends of the bones in the leg and this serves as a lubricant in between bones. As this cartilage is further responsible for decreasing the friction between joints, losing it through time results to an outgrowth of osteophytes or also referred to as bone spurs in the joints. Osteophytes also becomes responsible in having an arthritis that limits joint movement and causes much pain.
There has been an observed increase in the occurrence of knee osteoporosis in the US. In fact, there are cases that lead to total knee replacement (TKR). A research that was presented during the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) shows the occurrence of TKR across ages and gender. Alarming information about the prevalence of TKR has provided an awareness of the increase of knee osteoarthritis occurrence. One information is that TKR has doubled for the last 10 years as of the year 2012. Secondly, the rise is happening and may still happen fast for younger patients. Also, the research showed that in all cases, females are much affected than males. This research on total knee replacement becomes a supporting data to the forecast that there would really be an increase of knee osteoarthritis incidence in the country by the year 2020.
Factors leading to Knee Osteoporosis
Knee osteoarthritis is experienced out of different reasons.
Age is a factor. Losing some vitamins and minerals in our body increases through time and this includes those which aid our bone for optimal performance.
They say that females are most likely to have such disease. Most likely, this is associated to the fact that women wear high heeled shoes. Statistics show that one out of 10 women is wearing high heels three days a week. This has furthermore increased the foot problems that women encounter. A study conducted by a master student at Iowa State University observed that wearing shoes with higher heels increases the compression inside the knee. This is due to the efforts and adjustment that must be done to change posture and then balance the walking process. Added compression then contributes to the degeneration of the joint and lead to this talked about disease.
There are also cases where knee osteoarthritis is being blamed on occupation and lifestyle. Some jobs expose a person to doing activities that are actually injuring the joints. This includes kneeling or squatting for more than an hour every day, excessive walking and even athletic activities that directly impact the joints. If this is done repeatedly over a long period of time, it will lead to osteoarthritis. Also, all-day desk work can be a factor. How? This kind of work does not allow much physical movement. More so, as you are doing brain works, you need food to feed your brain from time to time. In effect, you eat more, move less and that’s where obesity comes in. This leads us now to the next factor called obesity.
Obesity is being overweight. The joints in the knee take part in bearing a person’s weight Our knee has a certain capacity of carrying the body’s weight. An excess pound of weight will put four times extra pressure on our knees. In other words, being two pounds overweight means an additional 8 pounds pressure on the knees. Also, if there are unburned fats in you, these excess fats produce proteins and other chemicals which can cause joint inflation. “So if you think about all the steps you take in a day, you can see why it would lead to premature damage in weight-bearing joints,” Dr. Matteson said when stating his opinion about obesity’s contribution to the weakening of the knees.
The idea that knee this is an inherited disease has been accepted and still being strengthened until today through a series of researches. It is also true that some people who are born with cartilage problems and malformed joints have a higher chance of acquiring the said disease during the earlier stage of their life. It is important to take note here that the said bone deformities are not necessarily hereditary.
There are also other diseases that can cause knee osteoarthritis. Bleeding joints caused by hemophilia damages them. An occurrence of bone death due to diseases that blocks blood supply is also a factor. Diabetes is also being pointed out as one cause for this type of arthritis. Another type of arthritis can also lead to be a culprit. This includes gout, which is where uric acid causes joint inflammation, and pseudogout, which is caused by the build-up of called calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD).
Signs that you are Stricken by Knee Osteoarthritis
Knee osteoarthritis is not difficult to diagnose as this has signs and symptoms that can easily be detected. As its level progresses, these symptoms get worse over time as well.
Knee Pain: Pain in the knee is the first thing being experienced. A mild pain in the joint must not be disregarded as the pain tends to develop fast, in most cases. The pain usually occurs when doing normal activities like kneeling, walking through the stairs or simply standing up from sitting or squatting. There are also cases when the pain is felt after your leg has been inactive or in a standby position from quite a while like from sleeping in just one position the whole night. If the pain becomes very disturbing, especially during cold weather or while sleeping, then most probably, you are stricken by it. However, for the mild pain, you may opt for pain relief cream such as Irwin Naturals 3 In 1 Joint Formula.
Tenderness: We mentioned earlier that knee osteoarthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints. This inflammation is reflected to knee tenderness in some cases. This can be physically observed through swelling in the knee after a long time of being inactive. If there is tenderness when putting even a light pressure on it, then the disease is already showing the symptoms to you.
Joint Stiffness: Damage joints result to an instability. This can further weaken the muscle in the knee over time. When this happens, the knee buckles and then locks up which makes it difficult to move the knee, whether you bend it or straighten it. The period that this feeling occurs vary according to the severity of arthritis. Also, stiffness occurs and then gone in a while for no possible reason.
Cracking Sensation: There will be times when you feel that your bones are too brittle that you hear some cracking sounds or feel a grinding sensation. We know now that knee osteoarthritis is caused by losing some of the articular cartilage, which we first referred here as lubricants. Without them aiding a smooth motion in between bones, the cracking sensation becomes more obvious and much felt.
Loss of flexibility: Experiencing this symptom will limit your knee movements as your joints cannot move in full range. Forcing it will lead to a more painful feeling. This happens because knee osteoarthritis promotes wearing off of the cartilage through time. This time, you will notice that your movement when engaging in a sports activity or climbing the stairs becomes limited. Worst case happened when you have a feeling of like having a crippled leg that even a simple walking activity can hardly be done without a support or assistance.
Space in between joints: Loss of space between joints can be determined through an X-ray done on the knees. The space in between allows you to freely move your knees. If it has decreased from normal, then you have a knee osteoarthritis.
Knee Deformities: This is a visible symptom wherein you notice a change in the shape or form of your knees. Deformities like having the knees being bent outward resulting to a bow-legged look is a sign. Also, there are times that knee looks like pointing to each other. This happens because the muscle surrounding the knees are getting thinner and weaker.
With all these facts being said and done, how then will the chance of having this disease be lessened or diminished? Keep in mind that it’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle.
Although knee osteoarthritis cannot be prevented all the time as there are some are caused by an increase in age or are hereditary, experiencing it during the early stage of adulthood, 50 years and below, can be suppressed and in a way will help you enjoy life more.
What to do now?
Engaging in physical activities will surely help a lot. By this, we mean doing an exercise for 15 minutes a day or an hour of an athletic activity done thrice a week. There are also exercises that are done particularly to ease tensions in the knees. This includes doing a quadriceps stretch in standing position, a calf stretch, a leg raise exercise, step-ups and doing a reclining hamstring stretch. Remember how knee osteoarthritis is being associated with obesity? Shedding some pounds will free your joints from the extra pressure of excess weights.
If wearing of shoes with heels is unavoidable, here are some few tips from Dr. Natalie A. Nevins, an osteopathic physician from California. Carefully choose those shoes with lower heel height and can provide support to weight balancing. As much as possible, avoid those stilettos. Ensure that the shoes have soft insoles and that you are wearing just the size that fits you so that it gives less pressure on your toes and knees. As much as practicable, wear high heeled shoes only on those days that standing and walking around is less required. If space allows, you can bring along an extra pair of flats that you can use for your walking activities. Another thing to do is to never forget to have some leg and feet stretching. This will definitely help a lot.
Eating the right kind of food is the basic thing to do to prevent any disease. For people affected or wants to keep put from knee osteoarthritis, here is your diet guide.
- Fruits and vegetables are number one in the list. Oranges and spinach are the top on the list as this are good sources of vitamins C and K respectively. Both were proven to be effective in lowering the risk of this disease.
- Salmon and those food which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation.
- Foods with vitamin D helps relieve osteoarthritis related pains. Take this from egg and mushrooms a day or from vitamin D supplements and see how well it will work for you.
- Spices such as turmeric and ginger can ease the pain when you sprinkle them to your every meal. Spices are well known for its anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
As soon as you figure out that you are already affected by the disease, always first try the simple and less risky remedies before jumping to surgeries. Medications and physical therapies are helpful measures. Studies show that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are good joint pain supplements as these give anti-inflammatory medicines give fewer side effects than other drugs. You can also go for a supplement called Omega XL which provides omega fatty acids. This supplement target the root cause of joint pain thus eliminating it altogether. All medications must be prescribed by physicians to ensure safety.
Always remember that despite the many factors that could ruin a good health, achieving a healthier body is still dependent on you and your choices.
 Alldredge, B.K., et.al. 2009. “”Applied Therapeutics: The Clinical Use of Drugs”. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Willians & Wilkins. p.101-103.