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Five tips to healthy knees

For healthy knees, follow these five tips:

Exercise:  Development of leg muscles, particularly quadriceps and hamstrings, can help prevent knee trouble. It has been proven women are more likely to suffer a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is a more serious knee problem impacting function and stability. Cross-training, stretching and strengthening can all help knees stay pain-free and problem-free. While knee pain should always be checked with a doctor to rule out injury, early arthritis, or other serious conditions, the good news is that knee pain from overuse is usually solvable with ice, rest and exercises that promote healing.

Pacing: Always warm up before you exercise and choose your workouts wisely. Know your limits. Give yourself time to get in shape and don’t try to do too much too soon. Follow the 10% rule: Never increase the duration or intensity of your exercise or activity by more than 10 percent in a week. Train for at least two months before beginning stressful activities such as skiing or running in a race. Strength, flexibility, aerobic and core exercises will help prevent knee and other injuries. Remember a cool down stretch helps prevent injuries as well.

Weight Management:  The more a joint has to carry, the more damage it experiences in the long run. This is especially true for knees, which have to support your body weight. Every extra pound you carry puts an average of five pounds of added stress on your knees when you move, so being just 10 pounds overweight is like having 50 extra pounds of pressure on your joints and increases your chances of developing arthritis.

Let the Doctor take a Look: With new technologies like MRI scans and arthroscopy, diagnosis and treatment can be figured out quickly and easily compared to years ago. Many knee patients often need physical therapy and home exercises to treat their conditions, but if untreated can result in more serious injuries.

Treatment Plan: New and improved physical-therapy treatments are making patients pain-free sooner. Work with your physical therapist for the recovery plan that fits your lifestyle. Back off from activities such as walking hills or knee-bending exercises that cause you pain. Wear shoes appropriate for an activity. Seek proper arch support if your feet roll in.

About Dr. Davis Tsai

Dr. Tsai is an orthopaedic surgeon and director of arthroscopy at the Kennedy Center at Mercy Medical Center. He earned his medical degree at Northwestern University Medical School and served his orthopaedics surgical residency and Internship at Northwestern University. Outside of the office he enjoys hunting, rock climbing, kayaking and traveling.

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