Maintaining and promoting the well-being of the knee is a priority for everyone. The knee joint is the one most affected by acute injuries and overload. Precisely for this reason the knee should receive greater attention from those who practice sports .
The knee bears great stresses in everyday life
The joint between the femur and the patella has to withstand enormous stress. Every 2 cm of the patellar cartilage surface bears loads of 75 kg, against the 15 kg of the head of the femur at the hip. This is why the patellar cartilageand very thick, enough to measure even 7 mm. Menisci and ligaments contribute to the stability of the knee, but the impacts resulting from walking and running, particularly on uneven and downhill terrain, can seriously damage the meniscus and cartilage, compromising the well-being of the knee .
What is cartilage Cartilage
is made up of 65-80% water, 10-30% collagen, and 5-10% proteoglycans. Its properties of resistance and elasticity allow it to adapt to the pressures created by the load, with continuous remodeling. The synovial membrane of each joint has the function of producing the main lubricant of the joints, hyaluronic acid.
What lesions can cartilage have Cartilage
lesions can affect any part of the knee and be of increasing severity: from the swelling of the cartilage (1st degree), to furrows and fissures (2nd and 3rd degree), up to the exposure of the subchondral bone (4th degree) with overt osteoarthritis. The treatment of cartilage damage is a complex topic, but fundamental to maintaining the well-being of the knee.
While conservative treatment gives satisfactory results in the initial stages, surgical treatment of cartilage lesions is currently not always able to bring the patient back to walking or running to the level prior to surgery. Both total and unicompartmental knee prostheses must then be reserved for the most serious and overt osteoarthritis both for the surgical act and for the subsequent demanding rehabilitation.
Walking and running can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee
There is no research in the medical literature to support this. Up to medium-moderate activity loads there is no scientific evidence of this relationship, which instead was found only in some studies on high-level runners with very high monthly mileages. Muscle fatigue caused by high mileage certainly decreases the possibility of cushioning the impacts to the knee.
How can I start practicing sedentary physical activity for the well-being of the knee
The sedentary, often overweight, who starts walking or running, must do it very gradually. Better to associate cycling with alternate days, so as to strengthen the quadriceps without overloading the knee. Cycling is the sport that most helps to keep the knee in good condition. In fact, the cyclic movement of pedaling helps produce synovial fluids.
Exercises with elastic bands are also a practical way to strengthen the quadriceps and buttocks, as well as the use of Nordic walking poles. If you are obviously overweight, you need to lose weight before committing a lot to walking or running. Swimming is also a valid activity, especially if associated with the execution of exercises performed in water (water aerobics).
Keeping the menisci healthy is important
The functionality and well-being of the knee are linked to the integrity of the menisci . These two “shock absorbers” protect the cartilage of the knee even when they are worn and degenerated. It is necessary to be very careful in arthroscopically treating meniscal tears, especially over the age of 50. Often, after a few months the pains subside on their own and even a selective meniscectomy involves an inevitable progression of the knee towards osteoarthritis over time, particularly when the knee is varus or valgus.
The knee can have stress fractures
It is not so common to find a stress fracture in the knee, but those who start walking and running after years of sedentary life without respecting the correct progression of sessions and mileage, or are overweight, can incur a stress fracture of the tibial plateau, which however it has a conservative treatment.
If the knee is swollen what should I do
Arthrosynovitis of the knee is often present in the arthritic knee. You have to rest, apply ice (10 minutes 2/3 times a day) and take anti-inflammatories for a few days. If there are no results, contact the specialist to perform the arthrocentesis and any infiltration. Baker’s cyst, which leads to posterior knee swelling, is also often a sign of internal knee problems, such as a meniscal tear.
The infiltrations of hyaluronic acid are effective for the well-being of the knee
For years they have had a recognized role in the treatment of arthritic knee because they lubricate and improve the possibilities of cushioning the impacts of running. The quality and quantity of hyaluronic acid produced by the synovial membrane of the knee are compromised when the knee is arthritic or presents the first cartilage damage.
Periodic viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid has proved to be very effective because it restores the hydrodynamic and viscoelastic characteristics of the synovial fluid allowing the knee to withstand mechanical stress. Furthermore, an induction to the production of endogenous hyaluronic acid, an increase in the density of chondrocytes and a contrast to the oxidative damage of free radicals is obtained.
It is useful to take food supplements for the well-being of the knee
. The integration of collagen , glucosamine , calcium , devil’s claw and turmeric , have for years been an important role in the prevention of osteoarthritis and treatment of symptoms . Natural therapies, based on herbs and plants, are widespread in the East. Today they are spreading more and more also in the western world by associating themselves with drugs used in the treatment of joint diseases.
Glucosamine is a precursor of glycosaminoglycans, fundamental constituents of cartilage, hydrolyzed collagen rich in amino acids intervenes in thebuilding new collagen . Turmeric has an antioxidant and protective effect on the joints , while devil’s claw has a documented anti- inflammatory activity .