Senior Knee Pain Explained! Identifying Causes & Finding Relief

Hi, doctor Keller Wortham, coming to you with another home edition of house call. And what is it about knee pain that can bring you to your, well, I guess your knees. I mean, one of the biggest pain complaints I get in my office is about the knees. And frankly, I feel like we all under a appreciate our needs until we have pain in them, and then we realize how much we need them. See what I did there? Okay. Good.

What is it about the knees that make them so prone to pain? And what can we do about it? Well, in this video, I'm gonna talk about the most common cause of knee pain in older adults. I'm gonna give you some exercises that can help strengthen your knees to reduce that pain or even prevent it in the first place.

Now if you're a younger adult, these can help you too, but I will later be talking about one of the most common causes of knee pain of, younger adults in the next video. Alright. So listen up. Little stats here for you.

One in five people experience knee pain. Now if you're over fifty five, that's one in four. And then over fifty percent of all adults over the age of eighty five have knee arthritis.

Knee arthritis. This is by far, the most common cause of knee pain in older adults. I mean, every day I see a patient who comes into my office who's had to give up their activities, They don't like walking or they live in constant pain just because of their knees.

But when it comes to arthritis, stopping your activities because of the pain is probably the wrong approach. You need to stay active.

But what can you do if it hurts? Well, we're going to get into that. But first, Let's give a little lesson on the anatomy.

So the knee joint is actually a hinge joint, but it's a complicated one with lots of parts. It's got three bones, the femur, the tibia, and the patella, the little kneecap. It's got four main ligaments. It's got two menisci, which are little half moon pieces of cartilage inside the joint. It's got a bunch of tendons, and then it's got the articular cartilage, which is the main kind of soft coating on top of the bones. Now, a knee is more wobbly than an actual hinge, which gives us more mobility, but it also makes it more prone to injury.

Many things can lead to knee pain. And as I said, we're gonna examine some of those in other videos. But when we talk about knee pain due to arthritis, it all comes down to the cartilage that's deep within the joint that's covering the surface of the bones. If you look on the backside here, I can show you the kind of this smooth coding on top of the bones that's representing the articular cartilage.

Cartilage is basically the body's way of reducing friction at bony surfaces. It's white, it's smooth, it's spongy, and it is coating a lot of joints in our body. But as that cartilage wears down, we can start to develop more friction. And that friction can lead to arthritis.

Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joint. The ortho is the joint part and the it is the inflammation.

When we talk about osteoarthritis, we're referring to the bony part that also gets inflamed. And we can see that on x rays. And again, this happens as the cartilage starts to degrade over time, exposing the surfaces of the bones, and then basically causing more friction that leads to more inflammation.

So what are the risk factors for neostoarthritis.

Well, some of its genetics just runs in the family. Some of its high intensity workouts are very physical jobs, especially if you're carrying heavy loads. Obesity is another thing because basically you're carrying more weight on your knees, smoking, which reduces blood flow to vital body parts, and then weak muscles and bad alignment.

Now the weak muscles and the bad alignment are what we're gonna work today because they are so important at reducing osteoarthritis.

Okay. So you might want to go to your doctor to make sure that you have osteoarthritis.

Usually, that diagnosis can be made by looking at your symptoms, which might be an intermittent or a steady pain, some crunching sounds, kind of a long term, course here, not something that happened immediately.

And then, you know, they'll ask more about the history, what makes it better, what makes it worse, and they'll do an exam. They'll look for bony deformities, they'll feel for crunching or cracking or swelling of your knees. They'll check your range of motion, see if there's any acutely tender areas that could indicate something else. And then an x-ray, which is going to show us if we've got signs of a joint narrowing because of less cartilage in the joint. And if we've got signs that are showing that bony inflammation that I talked about, that means the osteoarthritis.

So let's now jump to exercises that we can do to help reduce arthritic pain and help even prevent it in the first place. You guys exercise is so important for so many joints and especially in the knees. Now, you can get into physical therapy for exercise, but even if you're not in physical there are a lot of exercises that you can try at home. All you need is a chair and some elastic bands that are easy to find in any sporting store.

So the first exercise I'm gonna show you is called a wall sit. This is great for strengthening the quadriceps and some of the gluteal muscles. Basically, you put your feet about a foot away, and you just sit against the wall. You're gonna have the weight focused on the heels, not on your toes, and sit down.

You get to adjust the height of your squat. If that's too deep for you, you can start up here. If you feel like you've faced a you got good strength, you can go even lower. You wanna make sure that your toes are pointing straight ahead and parallel, and you wanna feel kind of the the the inside of the thigh is almost kind of squeezing together.

And then you just get to hold here in this wall squat for as long as you would like. I would say a minimum of fifteen seconds.

I try to do at least thirty. And, you know, as you improve you can do longer, longer stints, or like I said, you can lower down the angle so that you're in more of a splat. Okay. So our second exercise with our chair here is what's called a heel raise.

All you're going to do for this is just basically kind of raise up on your heels This helps strengthen our calves, which believe it or not are important for knee health. The calves are one of the muscles that actually span over the knees. So I'm just basically raising up. I'm holding that position for about five to ten seconds and coming back down.

You can do like a set of ten of these. And then repeat if you've still got more energy.

Next exercise is what I call the side leg raise. It's basically you can use a chair as well, or you can just stand here and balance and you're basically just gonna kind of raise your leg out to the side. This is working the abductors of the leg, very important. For improving basically the strength across the knee joint. And again, I'm gonna hold for three seconds and lower back down.

Hold from three seconds and lower back down. And I can do like a set of ten of those and maybe do multiple sets.

Couple of exercises I'm going to show you now we can do from the chair.

This is an easy one to do if you have knee pain because basically it's just the straight leg lift from the chair. All you have to do is extend your leg out straight, sit on the edge of the chair, and just lift that leg up. You're gonna hold that straight leg up one two, three, and let it back down.

Hold it up. One, two, three, and let back down. And of course, you'll do a set of ten of these holding each time for three seconds, and then move on to do the opposite leg. The last exercise I'm gonna show you is what they call a seated hip march.

Basically, you're gonna stand here. You've got your knees flexed, and you're gonna raise your leg up like this and put it back down. This is, strengthening you quadriceps here, as well as some of the hip flexors holding that up, one, two, three, letting it back down, holding it up, one, two, three, and letting it back down. And then, of course, you would do, the opposite leg.

You can see that these exercises are very low impact. Okay? Some other low impact exercises that I can't demonstrate here are like swimming or stationary biking. But keep this in mind.

The more you use your muscles, like any, any joint, the more that you can move a joint, the better the joint lubricates itself, the better the muscle stays strong, muscles are our shock absorbers, so they help take that impact away from the bony surfaces, and stronger joints are less prone to injuries that can further in flame arthritis.

Okay? So if you do these exercises and you're still in pain, talk to your doctor and maybe they can get you a different treatment or into, organized physical therapy program. Alright, you guys. I hope these exercises were helpful. I hope you are now gonna get yourself on the road to less knee pain. And thank you for sticking with me on Doctor. Keller Whortham, and we'll see you again soon for another home edition of HouseCall.