Syracuse Area Health – Strasburger Orthopaedics

How to Mitigate the Effect of Extra Weight on Aging Joints

As you age, you may start experiencing issues in your knee joints. In a healthy joint, smooth tissue called cartilage and a cushion of fluid prevents the bones from rubbing together, but aging and normal wear and tear of the joint from daily use, manual labor, or athletics can cause this protective cushion to degrade and the joint to become arthritic.

Any extra weight put on over the years exacerbates the pressure out on the aging joint, and can cause swelling, discomfort, and chronic pain. Every pound of weight gained exerts four times more stress on the knees, according to WebMD. You can mitigate the effect of extra weight in your aging knees by following these guidelines:

Keep Moving

Finding ways to exercise that doesn’t add knee strain can help you lose weight and increase the strength in your legs and back. Moving every day keeps knee joints from locking up, preventing “frozen joints”. Mall walking works well for many seniors and can add social interaction to your day.

Build Muscle and Strengthen your Core

Healthy leg ligaments and muscles and a strong core can help relieve some of the load your knee joints have to carry. Look for options like water aerobics that can reduce pressure on your joints while you work out, or invest in a stationary bike.

Know Your Limits  

If your joints ache, certain exercises and activities need to be modified to allow you to stay on track and reduce the chance of injury. Ask a trainer or physical therapist to assist you in choosing the right exercises, and have your doctor sign off before starting a new exercise routine.  Muscle pain for a few days is to be expected when beginning a new workout regimen, but severe knee pain is a sign that you need to have your joints checked.

Wear Knee Pads

If you enjoy gardening, woodworking, or another hobby that puts you kneeling on the ground or concrete, invest in a pair of kneepads with moldable foam cushion to protect your joint. Pressure on the kneecap can lead to increased joint pain and worsened joint issues.

Ice Your Knees

Ice is a natural pain reliever, as the same nerves that transmit pain signals to the brain also transmit cold signals. You can numb pain away and simultaneously decrease swelling and inflammation, so when feeling comes back to your knee the discomfort is decreased.  

If you have constant knee pain, ask for a consultation with Dr. Strasburger to determine if you are a good candidate for knee arthroscopy, or a partial or full knee replacement.