For thousands of people young and old, knee and joint pain can hinder even the most ordinary everyday activities.
Ochsner Health System sports medicine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Misty Suri said most people in their late 20s and 30s who experience knee pain and haven’t had a traumatic knee injury are probably suffering from a combination of muscle imbalances.
“When people have trouble going up and down steps, they can have pain in the front of their knees.” Suri said. “In many instances, the actual source or root of the problem can be in the hip and the core, the muscles around the pelvis that are responsible for aligning the pelvis and supporting us as we walk or run.”
Suri said strengthening core and hip muscles can reduce or eliminate most common knee problems.
“If there’s an injury, then obviously that’s something different,” he said. “It could be an injury to the meniscus, which is the cushion between the two bones of the knee. It could also be a ligament injury like an ACL injury that you hear about in athletes. That can happen not just to elite athletes but to weekend warriors as well.”
“I see ACL injuries frequently in my practice, and performing ACL reconstructions and meniscal surgery are a big part of what I do every week,” Suri said. “These types of operations are good surgeries that can really help people regain their pre-injury level of function.”
While engaging in strenuous activities like flag football or long distance running can result in larger problems like an ACL tear, Suri said being overweight can result in everyday knee pain.
“The forces that are undertaken by the knee while running or jogging can be seven or eight times your body weight, so any kind of cartilage damage or any problem within the knee will be magnified with excessive body weight,” he said.
Shedding excess pounds will greatly lessen the impact of walking or jogging on the knees, Suri said, although traditional methods may stress the joints.
“Losing weight is hard to do when your knees hurt, so I generally recommend some non-impact activities like elliptical machines, stair climbers, biking and swimming,” Suri said. “Swimming or water aerobics are great for people that have excess weight because the water helps support one’s bodyweight and reduce forces on joints, and it’s a great workout.”
“When biking, try to make sure the seat height is adjusted appropriately for your individual height,” Suri added. “Improper seat height can put undue pressure on the knees.”
Maintaining a healthy body weight and keeping core muscles strong and balanced can decrease any non-traumatic related knee pain, Suri said.
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