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General Fitness>>Maintaining a Healthy Knee - 1/6/2007

v     The knee joint is really two joints- the patello-femoral joint, where the upper leg bone connects to the patella (knee cap) and the tibio-femoral joint, where the upper leg bone hinges with the lower leg bone.

 

v     The knee bones are held together passively by ligaments and dynamically by muscles.   Cartilage on the joint surface and menisci provide cushion and protection from weight-bearing stresses. When the knee is over-stressed in sports or repetitive everyday activities, these structures can breakdown and cause injury.

 

v     With increasing age and loss of conditioning,  repetitive daily stress can contribute to knee pain.

 

v     If your knee clicks, occasionally locks, or hurts with stair climbing, you most likely torn or worn down your meniscus, the cartilage pad that assists with shock absorption.  Small tears can sometimes repair themselves with 4-6 weeks of physical therapy and more severe tears may require surgery. 

 

v     Pain and tenderness below your knee cap that is especially aggravated with stair climbing and getting up from a chair is most likely patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee” caused by overuse.  Rest, strengthening and flexibility exercises aid recovery.  An infrapatellar knee strap (worn below the knee cap) is sometimes helpful.

 

v     Tight muscles and tendons (iliotibial band, hamstrings) can cause the knee cap to slip off track and grind against the thigh bone.  This condition is called “Patellofemoral Syndrome” or “Runner’s knee”.  If untreated, damage can be caused to the cartilage protecting the joint leading to osteoarthritis.  Strengthening and stretching of particular muscle groups aids in recovery.  Some physicians may also recommend glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements for cartilage repair. 

 

v     If you hear a pop and knee swells within two hours you possibly torn your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  Other symptoms of this include intense pain, and a feeling of instability in the knee.  A complete tear means surgery and months of rehabilitation.  Minor sprains can heal without surgery but typically require rehabilitation depending on the severity.

 

v     Keys to maintaining a healthy knee/prevention of injury is maintaining balanced strength and flexibility around the joint.  Strong conditioned muscles can act like a brace and protect the inner knee structures from repetitive stresses.

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