BRACES SUPPORT LEARNING CENTER
KNEE PROBLEMS IN SENIORS
Knee & Osteoarthritis Overview
The knees provide stable support for the body. They also allow the legs to bend and straighten. Both flexibility and stability are needed to stand, walk, run, crouch, jump, and turn. Knee problems can occur in men, women, and children and in people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Mechanical knee problems can be caused by:
- A direct blow or sudden movements that strain the knee
- Osteoarthritis in the knee, resulting from wear and tear on its parts.
Inflammatory knee problems can be caused by certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). These diseases cause swelling that can damage the knees permanently.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another type of arthritis that affects the knee. In rheumatoid arthritis, the knee becomes inflamed and cartilage may be destroyed. Treatment includes:
- Physical therapy
- Knee replacement surgery (for a seriously damaged knee)
The most common type of arthritis of the knee is osteoarthritis. As we age, cartilage in our knee break down, causing the cushion needed to absorb shock between the bones. This break down of cartilage is commonly known as Osteoarthritis of the knee (OA Knee) and can cause symptoms such as:
- Bone spur formation
- Decrease range of motion
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common cause of disability among elderly men and women.
Several factors may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Repetitive stress injuries
- High impact sports
Treatments for osteoarthritis are:
- Medicines to reduce pain, such as asprin and acetaminophen .
- Medicines to reduce swelling and inflammation, such as ibuprofen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Exercises to improve movement and strength.
- Weight loss.
Three types of exercise are best for people with arthritis:
- Range-of-motion exercises. These exercises help maintain or increase flexibility. They also help relieve stiffness in the knee.
- Strengthening exercises. These exercises help maintain or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints with arthritis.
- Aerobic or endurance exercises. These exercises improve heart function and blood circulation. They also help control weight. Some studies show that aerobic exercise can reduce swelling in some joints.
Knee Problem Prevention
Some knee problems (such as those resulting from an accident) can’t be prevented. But many knee problems can be prevented by doing the following:
- Warm up before playing sports. Walking and stretching are good warm-up exercises. Stretching the muscles in the front and the back of the thighs is a good way to warm up the knees.
- Make the leg muscles strong by doing certain exercises (for example, walking up stairs, riding a stationary bicycle, or working out with weights).
- Avoid sudden changes in the intensity of exercise.
- Increase the force or duration of activity slowly.
- Wear shoes that fit and are in good condition.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts pressure on the knees.1
A knee brace offers support and stability for an injured or weak knee when worn properly. There are many different types of knee braces. Some of the most common types of knee braces are:
- Open patella knee brace - has a hole at the front to reduce pressure through the kneecap and allow the knee to breathe. Comes in sleeve style or adjustable straps.
- Closed patella knee brace - Complete brace that supports the entire knee and allowing more heat retention for the knee. Comes in sleeve style or adjustable straps.
- Knee sleeve - Knee sleeves provide basic protection and are perfect for mild knee pain, sprains, arthritis, weakness, tendonitis, cartilage irritation and knee swelling. Comes in open patella or closed patella styles.
- Hinged knee brace - The hinges on the brace offer sideways stability and prevent the knee from bending back too far which makes them perfect following ligament injuries as well as arthritis, cartilage problems, weakness, instability and after knee surgery to support the knee.
- Knee Straps - Knee straps put pressure through the patella tendon and support the kneecap, therefore improving kneecap movement. Common for "jumpers knee" or "runners knee."
Speak to your doctor as to what type of knee brace is best suited for you.
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