As the largest joint in the body, your knees are subject to all sorts of abuse. Consider how many times in a day you sit down, stand up, climb stairs, walk, run, jump, reach, turn, or bend. It’s no wonder that more than 10 million people suffer from knee pain. While the majority of knee pain can be traced back to a specific incident, accident or injury, there are some surprising causes of knee pain that have nothing to do with how you move.
By definition, an autoimmune disease is any health problem where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells rather than diseased cells. While many autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis specifically attack muscle tissue and joints, having an autoimmune disease in general makes it more likely you will experience joint pain. For instance, Type I diabetics with uncontrolled blood sugar levels tend to experience decreased circulation to the extremities, particularly the feet. This lack of circulation, in turn, creates inflammation in the knees and joint pain. If you are experiencing chronic joint pain that cannot be traced back to an injury or osteoarthritis, you may be experiencing an autoimmune condition.
Unless you are well acquainted with physics, you likely think that your weight is the amount of pressure you put on your knees with every step you take. In reality, for every pound you weigh, you exert four times the pressure on your knees. If you are 100 pounds overweight, you are putting 400 pounds of extra pressure on your knees. For many people who are overweight or obese, losing even 10 percent of their bodyweight provides a measure of relief on their joints.
You Don’t Move Enough
Perhaps most surprising is the idea that you have knee pain because you are not moving enough. If you are experiencing knee pain and have not injured your knee, the best course of action isn’t to rest the joint, but to move it more. The right exercises, walking, stretching, weight training and swimming, have been shown to increase strength and flexibility in the tendons and muscles in your legs. When your quads are strong, your thigh can support your knee better, relieving your pain. Movement can also relieve painful stiffness in your joints because it boosts production of the fluid lubricating the knee. In fact, this fluid, called synovial fluid, not only is the grease that keeps the knee moving, it brings nutrients and oxygen to your joints that aid in healing and recovery. As tempting as it is to sit with your knee up, the lack of movement may only make your knee pain worse.
If you are experiencing unexplained knee pain, it is important to get to the bottom of the reason why you are hurt. Regardless of the cause, resorting to pain medication or rest will only mask your symptoms rather than addressing them head on. For more information on knee pain or to find out why your knees hurt, call Sandstone or schedule your comprehensive exam with x-rays online.