Most people will experience joint pain at some point in their lifetime.
The knee is an especially vulnerable joint that bears a great deal of
stress from everyday activities such as lifting and kneeling, and from
high-impact activities such as jogging and aerobics.
Many knee problems are a result of the aging process and continual wear
and stress on the knee joint, or injuries. Osteoarthritis, the most common
knee ailment, develops progressively as joint cartilage slowly wears away.
While there is little evidence that a knee injury directly causes arthritis
later in life, we do know that arthritis is more likely to occur years
after a torn meniscus, injury to a ligament or fracture to the knee.
“Joint pain in the knee has a variety of causes and treatments,” said
Stephen Gardner, MD, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at
Mission Hospital. “If you develop arthritis, simple movements can become difficult
or impossible. You will most likely notice pain and possibly restricted
range of motion when you climb stairs or participate in impact athletic
While nearly 50 million people in the U.S. have some form of arthritis
or chronic joint symptoms, nagging pain in your knee does not necessarily
mean you’re destined for this diagnosis.
“The prognosis of a typical patient who comes in with knee pain is
usually good, and rarely requires surgery,” Dr. Gardner said. “Unless
you’ve experienced an acute injury or severe pain, I recommend rest,
ice and elevation for a week or two, which will usually help the pain
To keep your knees healthy, Dr. Gardner also suggests modifying your exercise
routine to include swimming or cycling, which provide cardiovascular health
and motion to the joint, as opposed to running or jumping, which are high
impact and may cause more pain and swelling.
Here are a few other tips to keep your knees in tip-top shape:
- Improve your overall strength and fitness.
- Know your level of fitness and the demands of your sport or activity.
- Control your weight. When you walk, each extra pound can add 4 lbs. of
pressure to the kneecap. Steps can add 10 – 20 lbs. of pressure.
- Buy sturdy shoes made for your activity, and replace them when the inner
or outer soles appear worn. If your knee pain continues and your doctor
recommends surgery or knee replacement, Mission Hospital provides state-of-theart
technology and advanced orthopedic surgical techniques.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.