There are many types of knee problems and many reasons for it. Sometimes people have knee pain due to old age or at time youngsters may injure their knee while playing some sport or even running. People who are overweight also have a lot of knee problems because the knee is unable to carry so much of weight and starts to pain.

On today’s show I spoke to Dr Anant Shetty who described the structure of the knee, saying that it is just like any other organ in our body. In the past it was thought that the knee is just a joint like a hinge which moves in two ways, forward and backward but it is now known to be a bit more complex than that. The knee has got a meniscus which is like a washer in between the knee. He said that most of the time people confuse the injury of the meniscus with a cartilage injury. The meniscus is like a shock absorber in between the knee. The other part of the knee is the cartilage which is a lining which again acts as a shock absorber. Other than that the knee has two ligaments inside and two ligaments outside called the cruciate ligament and the collateral ligaments. The knee also has a membrane called the synovium or synovial membrane. When someone has rheumatoid arthritis then this membrane gets inflamed. The outer structure of the knee is called the capsule. He said that the knee is a very complex structure which is why it is called an organ like the heart or the lungs.

Speaking about sports related injuries of the knee, Dr Shetty said that injury can happen to most parts of the knee. The most common one is the injury to the ligament on either side of the knee that is the collateral ligament. And the second most common injury is the injury to the meniscus followed by the cartilage and the fourth thing that can easily get damaged is the bone itself which might not show on an x ray but when an MRI scan is done it will be shown. One of the major sports related injuries are fractures. A fracture or injury on a bone is less complicated than an injury on the joint said Dr shetty because it is very difficult to diagnose an injury in the joint. Most of the times it is confused with a sprained ligament and that why people lose the very small window that is there to help identify a joint injury.

Speaking about the modern way of treating knee problems now he said for a sportsperson 60 % of the times the sport related knee injuries can be avoided by doing some very simple exercises. He spoke about devising 11 plus exercises which are simple warm up exercises for professional and amateur footballers because of which the injury rate has gone down. So by just running or kneeling down for long durations a person’s knee won’t get damaged said Dr Shetty. If someone’s job involves kneeling down then he would suggest using a protection for the knee and if someone is running a lot on a hard surface then they need to make sure to wear soft heel shoes. Also building up the muscle strength and keeping fit is the key to avoiding sports related injuries.

He spoke osteoarthritis and said that it is very different from the rheumatoid arthritis. It is an inflammatory disease which affects the cartilage. All the weight bearing joints have got cartilage, a white shiny thing that allows the joint to glide smoothly. Dr Shetty said that osteoarthritis is a genetic disease and Asians in general are very prone to developing this kind of arthritis because of how our bones are built and because we carry the genes responsible for causing it in the body. He said that someone who is suffering from osteoarthritis needs to

  • Lose weight because the joint carries a lot of weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Injections inside the joint which contain a lubricant fluid

People may feel that because of the arthritis they are unable to exercise and hence they cannot lose the necessary weight. But Dr Shetty said that even with arthritis it is possible for people to lose the weight by exercising as much as possible and controlling what you eat. People feel that once a knee replacement is done then they will automatically start to lose weight as they will be more active but Dr Shetty said that in his experience people tend to put on more weight after having a knee replacement surgery. So he suggests to lose weight and not wait for the surgery to help lose the excess weight that may be causing more pain in the knee.

Wearing the right footwear is very important to avoid having any knee problems. Dr Shetty said that there are some new type of footwear which are made specifically to correct the gait of the person. He said that people need to choose the correct footwear when walking especially when walking on hard surfaces. The foot wear need not be the most expensive one but it needs to be soft and needs to fit properly. A size too big or a size smaller will not be a good choice. For someone who has early arthritis and is not planning to have surgery the best way to go would be to analyze the gait and then work towards improving it.

To avoid knee troubles Dr Shetty gave the following tips to our viewers

  • Reduce weight because when walking the weight on the knee is about 4 to 6 times the body weight. Even if a person loses 10 kg then in reality the knee will feel the relief of having lost around 40 or more kg
  • Quit smoking because it destroys the cartilage
  • Do regular exercises to keep the muscles moving
  • If you are diabetic which is again one of the things very common in the Asian communities then keep it in control