Knee pain is a common concern for seniors. Just like every other joint, knees are impacted by time and gravity. Over the years, every step adds a little wear and tear. By the time a person is 65 or older, they have an increased chance of experiencing persistent or occasional knee pain.
What causes knee pain?
A number of factors can cause knee pain, including obesity, trauma, and a history of playing high-impact sports. One of the leading causes, however, is osteoarthritis and the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage is a rubbery substance that acts as a cushion between our bones. When the cartilage in a joint deteriorates, it causes the bones to rub together and can lead to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain, swelling, and limited movement in a joint.
Can you fix knee pain?
There are several different options to help relieve knee pain. For severe cases, surgery is often the best route. During a knee replacement, the damaged cartilage and bone are removed and replaced by a synthetic joint. While the recovery process can take several months, knee replacements are typically successful in eliminating pain and improving movement. For less severe cases, a senior may be prescribed pain killers or regular physical therapy. Consulting a doctor is the best way to receive an official diagnosis and treatment plan.
What can seniors do?
Behaviour modifications can help prevent and reduce knee pain. Obesity creates an immense amount of stress on our knees. Research shows that overweight patients who lost 5% of their body weight experienced significant improvements in regard to pain and mobility. In addition to eating well, weight training and frequent walking can strengthen the bones and tendons in our knee joints, thereby reducing pain and deterioration. Maintaining a healthy weight and practicing regular exercise are important for all seniors, but especially those who suffer from knee pain or other health conditions.
How can caregivers help?
Caregivers can support seniors during a lifestyle change by encouraging a healthy diet and assisting with physical activity. They can also help transport seniors to and from physiotherapy appointments. Seniors with knee pain often have limited mobility, especially if they have recently undergone a knee replacement surgery. Caregivers can help seniors during their recovery by assisting with shopping and meal preparation, managing and administering medications, and helping seniors walk around the house or up and down stairs. A caregiver can be an integral part of a successful recovery from knee replacement surgery.
Aging knees can be painful and limiting but there are ways to manage and reduce the symptoms. Whether you are suffering from sore knees or caring for someone who does, we hope you feel better prepared to start the road to recovery. If you have any additional questions about knee pain and seniors, please ask us in the comments section.