Knee pain and discomfort is generally par for the course as we grow older. This is often a result of a variety of factors, such as gravity, time, and extensive use. All of these factors are compounded with age from many years of built up strain and impact. By the time seniors reach old age, their knees have experienced a great deal of wear and tear that culminates to make them more vulnerable to pain and injury.
In addition to the general deterioration of the knees which occurs over the course of many years, there are also other conditions and factors that can contribute to causing occasional or persistent knee pain for seniors. These can include, but are not limited to:
Recurring injury or intense trauma to the knee joint can result in lingering pain and anguish. This may be the result of a repeat sports injury or an isolated traumatic incident.
Some injuries that can result in knee pain later in life, include:
Excess weight places increased stress and strain on the knee joint. Even low impact activities like walking will cause accelerated deterioration of the knees in obese individuals.
People who have played sports their whole lives or worked jobs that required frequent standing, kneeling, and bending are at an increased risk for knee pain when they get older. Sports like skiing, basketball, and running place particular stress on the knee joint.
Strong knee muscles help stabilize the joint and protect it from injury. Regular stretching exercises also help promote good range of motion to give the joint better mobility.
The most common type of arthritis in seniors, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease characterized by cartilage break down putting extra strain on the knee joint.
There are a variety of strategies that can be implemented to help manage or relieve knee pain that seniors may come to experience. The most effective approach for relief is typically dependent on personal circumstances, lifestyle, and current state of health.
Some seniors will likely have to opt for surgery in the form of a knee replacement, a procedure to remove damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with a synthetic joint. Others will not need to undergo surgery, and can alleviate or manage pain through physical therapy or prescribed pain killers. Consulting with a healthcare professional is always the best strategy, so make an appointment with a doctor whenever pain begins to cause concern or interfere with daily life.
Making healthy lifestyle choices is advantageous to overall health, and our knees can benefit from positive behavioural changes that can help reduce pain. Lessening the amount of weight that knees have to carry around can ease their load and as a result alleviate some pain. Healthy weight-loss for seniors who are overweight can help improve mobility and reduce knee pain. Knees can also benefit from strengthening through exercise to help make them more resilient and flexible, thus reducing pain intensity.
Knee pain can be distressing, uncomfortable, and discouraging when it starts to limit mobility, but there are ways to care for our knees that can help manage daily symptoms. Focusing on healthy practices for specific areas of the body, like the knees, can help improve overall health and wellbeing.
Consult with a medical professional about knee pain to determine underlying causes, and explore the best course of action to help the seniors in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge move forward and care for their knees practically and effectively.