Knee troubles of old age

  • By Dr. Neha Agrawal

Knee pain – Why?

Knee pain is common in middle aged men and gets even more common in older men. Though the incidence is higher in women, there is a significant percentage of men who suffer from knee troubles in the old age.

Whether it is to kneel and pray, or to go down on your knees to propose, or to play the horse with your grandchildren – you need a good knee. Take care of it.

If you are wondering why you would need to go down on your knees to propose in the old age, we’d still say, why take a chance! Better be prepared. You may need to go down on your knees to say a sorry to your beautiful wife also.

Whatever be the case, being fit is not a choice. It is what we all want and what we all need.

Understand why the knees start groaning as the hair start graying. Knees are weight bearing joints and they work really hard carrying you everywhere – standing, walking, running, playing, jumping, dancing, etc. They try to maintain your body balance and keep you well grounded. Without due care and maintenance the best machines start creaking. So does the knee.

Knees are like your protective bodyguards. In case of fall or injury, the first to lay its life is the knee. Go back in time and think how your body reacts to an impending fall – the knee first, most often. Frequent injury can damage the knee tissue.

Extra body weight also exerts undue pressure on the knees and their job becomes over demanding. They begin to succumb to the pressure and that’s how the pain begins.

Deficiencies are common, even in those who eat a lot, because quantity is not synonymous with quality. A balanced diet is something that we all ignore until a red flag is raised. Insufficient intake of calcium and inadequate supply of vitamin D affects the joints adversely. And as explained earlier, knees give in quickly.

Ageing process is inevitable. No magic has been successful in keeping us young forever. The body does grow old and so do our joints. As a part of ageing wear and tear, the joints begin to dry up a little and friction comes in when they move. This causes pain, swelling and discomfort.

Those two little joints support your body. It they cry out with pain, pay attention to them.

What to do?

Do not leave an injury unattended. RICE is the best solution – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Pay attention to it so that the knee heals well. See a doctor. Take required medications and do not indulge in heavy physical activity till the knee is totally alright.

Eat well: Have a balanced diet since always. There is no right age to start watching what’s on your plate. Have calcium supplements after the age of 45-50, if needed. Consult a physician for the same. Get regular tests to check your bone density. It is a shame if the well-privileged people of the society suffer from deficiencies.

Regular exercise: Strength building exercises like calisthenics; outdoor sports, yoga, tai chi, etc. help your joints become strong. This is a preventive technique. Start early to prevent problems in old age. But, mind you, it is never too late. Even if the arthritis has begun and the pain has arrived, you can still see a physiotherapist or a yoga expert and follow a discipline in exercise. Many patients who were recommended knee transplants have been known to avoid surgery, only because they built in a schedule (without excuses) of regular exercises for the knee.

Do not ignore: See a doctor with the first sign of trouble. The earlier you seek help; the better will be the results. If medication is required, take it. If therapy is required, attend it.

Take care of the knees. Old age need not be a nuisance. In fact, old age is a time to relax, enjoy and live life. Free from responsibilities, it is finally your time to do new things, to go on vacations and to channelize your energies towards your hobbies. Whether it is a world tour, or social work, or simply your evening walks - don’t let a weak knee hold you back, make it strong.