Knee pain is a common problem in old age, which happens most commonly due to osteoarthritis, where the joint wears out with age. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of disability in the elderly. The prevalence of osteoarthritis is around 25% among Indians aged above 50 years, says Dr Balavardhan Reddy, Senior Consultant of Arthroscopy at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Addressing an awareness event on knee pain in Hyderabad, Dr Reddy added, “As we all age, eventually our knees wear out and develop osteoarthritis. Fortunately, there are ways which help us to delay these changes and postpone knee problems.”
“The ends of the bones forming the joint are protected by a thin layer of cartilage which provides a smooth surface and makes movements possible. Our knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step. That pressure causes regular wear and tear of the articular cartilage which protects the ends of the long bones,” explains Dr Reddy.
He further informed that with age, muscles and ligaments get weaker and the knee's two shock absorbers, called menisci, deteriorate. This age related change further worsens the wear of the articular cartilage. When the cartilage is gone, the bones rub against each other, and we end up with pain.
Being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, menopause, injuries which cause direct damage to the cartilage, ligaments or muscles that eventually lead to early osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, gout and rheumatoid arthritis cause osteoarthritis.
“One should protect oneself against osteoarthritis by increasing the strength of muscles which helps to stabilize the knee joint and offers good protection. Muscles also absorb the stress placed on the knee. Reduction of weight decreases pressure on the joints and relieves pain. Everyone should maintain the BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 and 24.9,” advised Dr Reddy.