Degenerative Knee Diseases You Should Watch Out For

A healthy set of knees enables you to walk, run, jump, or crouch down with ease, helping to absorb the shock of each impact your foot has with the ground. Any injury to your knee joint, whether in the bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, or tendons, can affect your ability to walk or stand.

Degenerative Knee Diseases

If problems in the knees are not treated or lack follow through during the rehabilitation process, then it might lead to degeneration. Knee injuries can also trigger chronic diseases that will have a lasting and lifelong impact on your overall health.

Some types degenerative knee diseases to watch out for include:

  • Knee arthritis or osteoarthritis

  • Patellar tendinitis

  • (Effects of) multiple sclerosis

  • Muscular dystrophy

Degenerative diseases affect the tissues and organs over time. Aside from a previous ailment or an injury that wasn’t rehabilitated well, degenerative knee diseases can develop due to age, genetics, the body’s wear and tear from overactivity, the lack of exercise, poor diet, and unhealthy lifestyle.

What Happens If You Have Knee Osteoarthritis?

Knee osteoarthritis is the most common type of degenerative knee disease. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints thins out or when there is a decrease in synovial fluid production. The cartilage cushions the knee joints and works as a shock absorber but once it has broken down, then the joints can easily become painful, stiff, or swollen.

Knee deterioration due to osteoarthritis usually begins when you hit middle age. Doctors typically see signs of wear and tear in your knee joints via an x-ray. A noticeable gap between the bone joints indicates either mild, moderate, or severe knee osteoarthritis, which can make walking, running, and doing other movements uncomfortable. In some cases, the constant friction between the joints can also lead to inflammation that further increases the pain and discomfort.

 

Preventing Knee Osteoarthritis

As knee osteoarthritis is age-related, you might want to start paying special attention to the health of your knees as early as possible.

  • Do daily exercises to improve knee strength and mobility.

  • Consider losing weight to remove the extra stress on your knee joints.

  • Wear a compression brace for additional knee support when walking.

  • Follow through on your physical therapy, if you are recovering from a knee injury.

  • Eat a diet rich in calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E.

  • Visit your doctor for regular tests, especially if you have a history of osteoarthritis in your family.

What Happens If You Have Patellar Tendinitis?

Patellar tendinitis develops as a result of overused and overstressed knees. Also known as “Jumper’s Knee”, the condition largely affects the area between the patella (kneecap) and the tibia (shin bone).

There are no obvious traumatic injuries to the knees that have signs of patellar tendinitis. There’s only a gradual but increasing pain in the knee area due to the stress and pressure that arises from heavy movements involving jumping and landing, as in the case of athletes or dancers. Initially, the damage to the knees might be minor but due to repetitive stress, the knees can eventually become dysfunctional.

Preventing Patellar Tendinitis

People who do strenuous physical activities must:

  • Do muscle stretches to maintain the flexibility of the legs.

  • Do leg strengthening exercises including knee extensions.

  • Practice and develop better techniques to use in the games or during a performance to limit knee stress.

  • Rest for a few days when there’s obvious body pain especially around the knees.

In some cases, the only way to stop the degeneration of the knees due to patellar tendinitis is to quit the sport or the dance. Even then, the overuse of the knees can trigger other musculoskeletal diseases, especially in old age.

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects Your Knees

Multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, does not impact the bone joints directly unlike osteoarthritis. Joint pain, however, is one of the potential symptoms of this condition, especially around the knee area.

The chronic disease mostly affects the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, but one study has shown that 55.7 percent of its respondents with MS, who developed musculoskeletal pain, complained more about knee problems over wrist or neck problems. Doctors attribute this to spasticity or the decrease in the muscle tone that causes stiffness and lack of flexibility and strength in the knees.

Scientists have yet to fully understand the scope of MS, as there are many factors about why the disease develops, including genetics. Thus, prevention might come in many forms, such as:

  • Giving up smoking to strengthen the body’s immune systems to resist all sorts of disease.

  • Avoiding concussion during rough plays or physical activities.

  • Choosing to eat healthy foods with lots of vitamin D to help with cell regeneration.

  • Considering and reviewing vaccinations carefully.

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