Weak in the Knees

knee xrayIf you don’t want to be looking down the barrel of a knee replacement surgery, now is the time to do something about it. Medical professionals say that you should keep moving if you want to take care of your joints. Walking or biking are great ways to exercise without overdoing it. Even those with osteoarthritis can benefit from continued exercise, as the activity helps to build up the cartilage that cushions your joints. When the synovial fluid inside the joints moves around it gets oxygen, which in turn helps to create more synovial fluid.

But it’s all about moderation. Boomers who get too much exercise or overdo it are risking serious knee prosthesisdamage to tendons, cartilage or bone. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are over a half million knee and hip replacements done in the U.S. every year and that number is going to rise along with the number of boomers who hit retirement age. The good news is that partial knee replacements or unicompartmental knee arthroplasty appears to be very successful for active boomers who are suffering from arthritus.

For many boomers, it starts with the loss of cushioning cartilage. When that goes, you have bone rubbing on bone. Total knee replacement is a major operation and can take three months for recovery. If only the inside cartilage of the knee is involved, then less bone and cartilage are removed and recovery is much quicker. Surgeons compare it to capping a bad tooth, where the bone is resurfaced and a prosthesis covers it over. Many boomers resume normal knee holeactivity within two to four weeks.

As usual, prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Boomers would be wise to stretch more before beginning any form of exercise.
  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by walking or with a slow jog.
  • Avoid the weekend warrior syndrome of overdoing it all in one day.
  • Try 30 minutes of exercise every day instead of packing it all into one or two days.
  • Use the right equipment -- good shoes in particular.
  • And mix it up -- do some aerobics and some weight training.
  • Keeping your weight down should go without mention but boomers forget how much strain added weight can put on joints.

Most importantly, boomers need to listen to their bodies. When your joints ache it’s because your body is telling you that it’s had enough.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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