Alleviating knee pain leads to a more active life

Couple running (Photo: Shutterstock)
Jill Dickson

Sponsored Story By Shelbourne Knee Center

For older Americans, the pain of knee arthritis keeps them from living their best life. Even those who have exercised and kept in shape throughout the years, cannot do the rugged hiking and vigorous activity that they enjoyed when they were younger. Knee arthritis or inflammation of the knee joint is due to the wear and tear on the cartilage that covers the joint where the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap meet. Over time, this inflammation can lead to the wearing away of the normally smooth cartilage until bare bone is exposed.

Knee arthritis or osteoarthritis, often begins between the ages of 40 and 50, although it can start earlier if the patient has previous joint damage, infection, or a sensitized immune system. As people age, the cartilage becomes increasingly brittle and has less capacity to repair itself.

Lifestyle changes make a difference.

It is important to remember that your knees are supporting about 90% of your body weight, so losing as little as ten pounds can ease the pressure on the joints. Gentle stretching and low-impact exercise can also improve your range of motion and make your leg muscles stronger. Climbing stairs, however, is hard on the knees and will make the pain worse.

Don’t hesitate to get advice from a therapist or doctor about treatment options. There are many, depending on how intense the pain is. A physical therapist can design a customized exercise program for you that will relieve pain. Doctors can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone or steroid shots that help with swelling for several weeks. However, these powerful medications often have side effects so you will need to be cautious about the combination of prescriptions you are taking.

You should see a doctor for knee pain when:

  • Lifestyle changes and medications fail to make pain subside
  • Pain interferes with walking and your usual activities
  • Pain makes sleeping difficult

When knee replacement is necessary.

When the non-invasive options are exhausted, knee replacement surgery is the option that most doctors suggest. It is important that you know what to expect before taking this step and getting a second opinion about treatment is a good idea. A few weeks of physical therapy to strengthen the knee and calf muscles is often recommended before surgery. This usually makes recovery easier since exercise will be limited after the operation.

Knee replacement surgery involves cutting away damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap and replacing it with an artificial joint made of metal and plastics, which are designed to glide smoothly against one another.

For most people, knee replacement provides pain relief, improved mobility and a better quality of life. Most knee replacements can be expected to last more than 15 years. Daily activities can resume three to six weeks after surgery and patients can engage in low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, golfing or biking after recovery.

The specialists at Shelbourne Knee Center welcome the opportunity to discuss your knee pain and develop a customized solution that will get you back in the game, living your best life! Call us at 317-924-8636 or visit our website at