Knee Arthritis--- Causes and Cures
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Knee Arthritis - Causes and Cures

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June 22, 2014
By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist












Your knee is one of those body parts that you never think of until it hurts. Unlike your face or your hands and feet -which you are at least likely to touch every day -the knees are the forgotten soldiers of your body. Yet, the knee is perhaps the one part of your body -other than your hips -which do the most work.

Whenever you stand, your knee performs the heroic job of carrying your full body weight, except for the little bit of weight below your knees.  Whenever you climb the stairs, your knees bear 4 times your body weight with each step. So, if you weigh 160 lbs (72.7 kilograms or 11.4 stones) , your knees are carrying 600 lbs of weight up each and every step.

The human knee is not structured ideally to carry heavy bodies upright over a lifetime. In fact, for most of our evolutionary history, we got around in a crouched position or an all fours, which put far less train on our knees. 

Standing upright required adjustments to the architecture of the knee -the addition of bands connecting the front and back of the knees to give us more stability in an upright position.

These later "add-ons", if you will, are simply not sturdy structures and can easily be overloaded by work or exercise or by simply being asked to carry increasingly heavy bodies.

Little wonder, then, with the upward trend in body weights in the U.S., U.K and around the world, that knee problems are the most common joint complaint.

The Hodgepodge Structure of the Human Knee
















Our knees are not elegant structures.  Basically, two bones come together at your knee-the biggest bone in your body, your thigh bone (femur) and your lower leg bone (tibia).

These bones are wrapped at the ends in slick, rubbery substances  called "cartilage" which enables the bones to slide against each other. In effect, whenever your knee moves, you literally are "burning rubber", like rubber tires against asphalt.  Over time, cartilage wears out.

You can help to slow down the wear and tear if you follow certain preventive steps that we cover below.

To hold the two bones together as they slide to enable you to move, the body has a contraction of "attachments". Tendons attach your muscles to the bones and "ligaments" attach the bones to each other.
 
How do you keep your knees in good repair?  What can you do to decrease your risk fro knee pain and injury? Here are 5 basic steps:

1.    Maintain an Ideal Body Weight. By far, the most important factor in predicting whether your knee will "wear out" from arthritis (osteoarthritis) or tendon or ligament wear-and-tear is your body weight.

If you carry an extra 10 pounds, that's an extra 40,000 to 50,000 pounds day the knee has to bear -assuming you walk the average 4000 to 5,000 steps a day most Americans do.

People who have more than 28.4 body mass index have more than 10 times greater risk for developing osteoarthritis than those who have a BMI of 22.8, according to a 2010 study by Cyprus International Institute for Environmental and Public Health in association with the Harvard School of Public Health.

A 2012 study from Canada's de Groot School of Medicine at McMaster University backed up those results, finding that those with a BMI over 30 have a 7 times greater risk for knee osteoarthritis than those with a BMI under 25.
Those who have a BMI over 30 are considered obese, and given that over a third of Americans and almost as many in the U.K. are considered obese, we are all at great risk for developing osteoarthritis if we don't get cracking and lose weight.

2.    Lighten Those Packages. Carrying extra loads at home and, especially at work, is associated with a much greater risk for knee arthritis.  Spread loads over several trips to avoid traumatizing your knees. When you travel on holidays, always use airport luggage carts rather than carrying loads yourself, even for small distances.  Buy a cart with wheels to carry groceries home.

3.    Avoid Squatting or Kneeling.  Squatting or kneeling is associated with a much higher risk for osteoarthritis. Scientists have learned that there is a lifetime cumulative upper range limit of 10,800 hours of kneeling and squatting before your knees will give out.  So, do everything you can to stay under that lifetime limit. The study that discovered that limit came from Germany's Federal Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in 2008.

4.    Support Your Knees. Athletes are keenly aware of the need to support their knees. We can borrow some of their tricks. Wear athletic shoes with extra gel supports to reduce the shock to your knees and other joints as you walk.  Prioritize knee health over fashion-buy shoes with shock supports and avoid high heels. Wrap your knees before you engage in tennis or other activities that will demand side to side movements. This will help to stabilize your knee.


5.   Eat Fish and Consider Krill.  Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which can help to ease joint pain. Better than fish oil, perhaps is krill oil. Krill is made from an arctic crustacean which looks like a shrimp.

Krill oil is more easily absorbed through the cell walls of your joints than fish oil, and for that reason is actually prescribed in certain countries such as France for joint osteoarthritis. Studies on rheumatoid arthritis go both ways, with some finding that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the inflammation that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis and others, such as a 2003 study from the Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, finding absolutely no benefit to taking omega 3 supplements.




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Consider taking krill oil to ease knee arthritis.