If you experience frequent knee pain, even though you work out and take good care of your health, you’re not alone. About one quarter of the American adult population deals with knee pain they would describe as “frequent to regular.” If you’re in this group, your pain likely limits mobility and places a great drain on your quality of life.
At the Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute in Smyrna, Georgia, board-certified orthopedic surgeon W. Joseph Absi, MD, seeks to improve the joint health of all our patients in and around the Atlanta metro area, using nonsurgical and surgical therapies.
As part of his professional expertise, he recommends preventive measures to combat knee pain and offers treatments when your knees or other joints hurt or become injured. As a specialist in Sports Medicine, Dr. Absi offers evidence-based advice for how you can protect your knees whenever you work out, and even help to prevent arthritis.
How do workouts impact my knees?
Your knee joints provide you with the ability to enjoy fluid and frequent motions and activities, but they also withstand a great deal of weight and stress. As you sit, stand, walk, run, squat, and perform other daily activities that require movement, the bones, ligaments, cartilage, fluid, and other soft tissues work together to allow a great range of motion.
When you work out, your knee joints absorb additional stress. High-impact exercise that includes knee movements can damage the structures of the joint over time. Soft tissue tears and accelerated wear on knee cartilage that cushions your joints is common.
As the knee cartilage wears away, your bones grind together, creating friction, pain, inflammation, and a restricted range of motion. Continued overstressing by working out through the pain can even cause deformities to develop in your knee joints.
How can I protect my knees from workout damage?
Some discomfort is to be expected from the normal, healthy stress of a good workout. This is especially true if you are trying out new exercises. But when you experience sharp or sudden knee pain, stop immediately. This is perhaps the most important factor to remember — sudden or sharp pain isn’t normal.
Stop your workout and allow your knee joints to rest. Try applying ice to help with the pain. Do not continue with your workout if the pain persists.
Here are some other recommendations from Dr. Absi for protecting your knees from injury:
Pause to warm up properly
Before beginning any type of workout, always take time to warm up your knees and other joints with stretching, slow jogging in place, and repetitive movements. This gets your blood circulating, providing needed oxygen and nutrients to the joints and other tissues, reducing your risk for injury.
Start with low-impact exercises
Low-impact exercises are always a good place to start, especially if you’re new to working out or you already have trouble with your knees. Walking and swimming are excellent ways to begin getting the exercise you need without doing harm to your knee joints. These exercises also strengthen your joints over time, so you can better handle more intense workouts in the future.
Avoid hard surfaces
Performing your workout on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt increases the impact to all your joints, especially your knees. They must absorb more shock than if you exercise on a softer surface, like natural ground or an exercise mat. Proper shoes with arch support and/or orthotics can also reduce the shock to your knee joints from exercise.
Know when to seek treatment
Pain that doesn’t go away with rest and icing should be investigated by a professional orthopedic physician. Dr. Absi can perform an exam and diagnostic testing to discern the root cause of your pain, and then prescribe an appropriate treatment plan that takes into consideration your age, weight, health, and other factors.
He may recommend physical therapy, wearing a knee brace, regenerative medicine therapy, and more to help reduce pain, inflammation, and discomfort while strengthening the knee.
For more information about knee joint health, and how to get the most from your personal workout regimen, contact us at Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute in Smyrna, GA. You can call us at 404-334-2929 or request an appointment online.