It’s National Walking Month, so don’t let knee pain hold you back says Mr Sandeep Chauhan, Specialist Knee Surgeon at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove.
Walking is good for you. It’s a painless exercise that brings physical and mental health benefits, but if you’ve started walking and find you are prone to twisting your knee or stumbling, then you may have poor muscle control in your legs. Improve this with simple quad exercises to build up the muscles and protect your knees from injury.
The most common knee pain for people aged 45-plus is caused by osteoarthritis. The cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away, causing pain, stiffness, a grating or grinding sensation when you move the joint, and swellings. Crouching down or climbing into the car can be uncomfortable. Use ice to reduce the swelling and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. However, if the pain continues or increases, it is important to have this diagnosed. Often physiotherapy or a cortisone injection will settle things down. But don’t be tempted to hang up your walking boots – keeping active is key to better knee health.
Exercising the knees:
- You may be having pain just because you’re not used to walking, so condition the muscles around your knees with quadriceps exercises, calf raises, wall squats, hamstring curls and bike-based sport – cycling or using static bikes.
- If National Walking Month inspires you, start slowly. Try walking between Brighton’s two piers and gradually build up the distance. Wear shoes that have support, such as trainers, or walking boots if you are heading to the South Downs.
- If you are prone to flat feet, which will turn the knee inwards, wear insoles, available from specialist shoe shops and chemists.
- If you suffer with osteoarthritis of the knee, keep active but reduce the length of your normal walk.
- Get in the pool and walk! Have water at mid-chest height and walk across the width of the pool. This is a cheap version of an antigravity treadmill used in rehabilitation.
- Try exercises like Pilates to improve your core stability. These are the muscles in your front, back and sides which act as stabilisers for the entire body and so will support the knee joint.
Knee replacement has become the most common form of joint replacement surgery, but often patients are reluctant to undergo the procedure, and suffer with knee pain for several years. According to the National Joint Registry, success rates are high, and patients can return to the activities they once enjoyed. A new knee will keep you walking the South Downs for another 15 years at least.
Advice from Mr Sandeep Chauhan, specialist knee surgeon, who holds clinics at The Montefiore Hospital, Hove For more information visit www.themontefiorehospital.co.ukor phone 01273 828 030.
First published in Brighton and Hove Independent on 18th May 2018.