(and avoid or postpone surgery)
By Dr. Gregory Martin
every one of
us at some
point in our lives. And it
can be worse than just
an occasional injury.
According to a study by
the American Academy
of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 34 percent of
Americans in their mid-50s and older say
they experience chronic knee or leg pain,
meaning they are in constant pain. In many
cases, this knee pain results in surgery. Seven
million Americans are currently living with
an arti;cial knee or hip. ;at’s a lot of pain,
and a lot of surgery.
As a knee surgeon who has helped thousands of patients with knee pain, I know there
are treatments and options that can not only
reduce the pain, but also help postpone knee
surgery—or avoid it entirely.
Here are my six keys to knee health.
Educate yourself. The more you know
about your knees, from things that can go
wrong to what you can do to help, the better
you can manage the outcome. Being educated
helps you develop reasonable expectations for
how your knees work and feel, helps you
maximize how they perform and enables better communication with your physician.
Regardless of what caused a knee prob-
lem, many of the best initial treatments are
the same, and can help postpone or even
eliminate the need for surgery. The bottom
line: What you can do to treat the knee is
more important than why it went bad.
Lighten up. For each pound your body
carries, your knees endure 4 pounds of pressure. That means that by losing just 10 pounds,
you relieve 40 pounds of pressure on your
knees. Less pressure on knees equals less pain.
I have seen patients successfully avoid the
need for surgery just by losing 20 or 30 pounds.
One effective way to take off the weight: Cut
your portions in half.
Drink more water. Staying well hydrated
is vital to knee health. All knees contain cartilage, the soft spongy tissue that lines the ends
of joints and enables pain-free motion. Cartilage is composed mostly of water. And,
drinking a glass of water before and after each
meal helps control your appetite.
Take glucosamine and turmeric. Some
supplements are worth a try. Generally, they’re
safer than many other treatments. I recommend glucosamine sulfate and turmeric (
turmeric can interfere with some medications—
check with your doctor). The National Institutes of Health state that glucosamine sulfate
is “likely effective” for treating osteoarthritis
of the knee. Turmeric is a well-studied and
long-used natural remedy, and recent research
found it eases pain as effectively as ibuprofen.
Keep moving—keep muscles strong
Exercise is critical to keeping knees healthy,
avoiding injury and reducing pain if there are
problems within the joint. Knees like to move
or they will get stiff. Low-impact exercise—
such as bicycling, elliptical machines and pool
workouts—all may help.
The stronger the muscles are around the
knee, the less pressure on the joint (and again,
less pressure equals less pain). Even if you’re
already heading for surgery, the kind of shape
you’re in before surgery has a huge impact on
how you are when you come out of it.
Learn safe ways to control pain. Although
some pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
may help, they are not without risk, and
their use should always be discussed with a
physician. I recommend using topical treatments, which can be highly effective in controlling pain. C
Dr. Gregory Martin is a knee surgeon,
physician, author, lecturer, researcher and
designer of knee replacement techniques
Dr. Gregory Martin
for your health
The Costco Connection
Exercise machines, water, glucosamine,
pain medication and more are available
at Costco and on Costco.com.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a clip from the
American Academy of Orthopaedic
Surgeons about knee replacement.
(See page 12 for details.)