Do your knees hurt?

knees-hurt Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No? Keep it that way.

Already hurting? There's help.

Your knees are an intricate mesh of ligament, tendon, and the cushiony meniscus. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, as it turns out.

"Knee issues fall into two general categories," says Dr. Ted Conklin, medical director for Premera Blue Cross. "For younger people it's often sports-related injuries. For older people it's commonly being overweight coupled with osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis in the knee."

The good news is that you can protect your knees from injury and head off unnecessary surgery to fix them.

Lighten the load

For everybody who has knees, "it really helps to keep weight in check," says Dr. Conklin. "Think of it like a truck that carries a load of bricks at all times. The more bricks you carry, the faster the truck wears out. Same with a knee."

Surgery is not always the answer

Dr. Conklin notes that in the past, knee problems, acute or not, often meant surgery. So often, in fact, that arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus is the most common orthopedic procedure performed in the United States.

A recent study* found that this surgery was performed 700,000 times each year.

The study also suggests that the surgical option might not be the best way to treat the problem.

According to Dr. Conklin, "For the meniscus in particular, physical therapy coupled with a watch-and-wait approach to surgery can give patients better results, with fewer risks and lower out-of-pocket costs."

* New York Times, Common Knee Surgery Does Very Little for Some, Study Suggests. Dec. 25, 2013.  


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