There’s little you can do to prevent traumatic injuries or certain chronic illnesses, but there’s a lot you can do to eliminate bad habits that cause knee pain or make it worse.
At Neil Ghodadra, MD, we see a lot of patients with acute, chronic, and severe knee pain, and often it’s the result of a few specific daily habits. If you’ve been living with persistent knee pain for a while, you may not even realize that you’re contributing to it.
Here, Dr. Ghodadra highlights a few common bad habits that can lead to knee pain or make existing knee pain worse.
Bad habits that lead to knee pain
Accidents and illnesses that affect your knees can blindside you. Often, there’s nothing you can do to avoid them. That makes a strong case for keeping your knees in top condition, so they stand a fighting chance at battling arthritis, infections, or injuries should they occur.
Unfortunately, many people do just the opposite without realizing it. Simple, everyday choices that seem harmless can actually be ruining your knees. Here are the top five culprits.
1. Poor shoe choice
Whatever shoes you strap on become the foundation upon which your entire body relies. The type, style, and construction of the shoe affects your posture and your biomechanics, and even minor issues in your shoe can turn into major problems for your knees, hips, and back.
High heels and flip-flops are two of the worst shoe choices. High heels throw your body weight distribution out of whack, including your knees. Flip-flops and flats don’t have proper arch support, forcing your ankles and knees to pronate.
2. Pounding the pavement
Exercise is great for your knees — unless your fitness routine treats your knees like jackhammers.
Basketball, volleyball, and running exert a lot of force on your knee joints. That may be fine when you’re a teenager or young adult, but as the years go on, this constant pounding can take a real toll.
If your favorite exercise places excess force on your knee joints, do your best to limit the amount of time your knees take a beating, and try to perform the activity on a surface that absorbs shock, such as grass or asphalt. Pavement is a notorious knee-killer.
3. Carrying too much weight
If you’re overweight, you already know the many health risks, and you’re probably tired of hearing about them. Unfortunately, you’ll have to add your knees to the list of things that can go wrong when you carry too much weight.
The daily stress of supporting extra pounds has a direct impact on your knees by triggering inflammation and putting you at risk for diseases that can affect your knees. The good news is that losing weight can have an immediate effect: If you lose just one pound, you can reduce four pounds of stress on your knees. Simply do the math: If you lose 10 pounds, you take 40 pounds of stress off your knee joints, and so on.
4. Sitting around too much
While pounding the pavement can hurt your knees, sitting around and leading a sedentary lifestyle may be even worse. Your body needs exercise to keep all your systems running smoothly, and that includes your knee joints.
Regular exercise increases your circulation, builds stamina, strengthens support muscles, and improves flexibility. On the other hand, lack of exercise leads to damaged blood vessels, weak muscles, weight gain, and, you guessed it, knee joint pain.
5. Using them incorrectly
Each body part has a job to do, and when you ask them to do something outside their job description, things tend to go badly. For example, using your teeth as a tool to pry open a bag can cause a chipped or broken tooth.
Likewise, if you use your knees to bump open a door or discourage your dog from jumping on you, you’re likely to feel the consequences.
When you treat your knees with respect, they’ll perform to the best of their ability. This means warming up before you exercise to ensure your muscles are limber and ready to work. It also means learning proper lifting techniques to avoid excess strain on your knees and lower back.
Posture also plays an important role in knee health, as any misalignment can have effects that ripple up and down your body’s kinetic chain.
What to do about knee pain
For minor knee pain, use the RICE method — rest, ice, elevation, and compression — to relieve discomfort and kick-start the healing process.
If your knee pain persists, however, come see Dr. Ghodadra for an expert evaluation of your knee and a custom treatment plan that addresses your unique symptoms. Depending on your needs, this may include physical therapy, joint injections, bracing, PRP, bone marrow aspirate concentrate therapy, or a combination of treatments.
To find out what’s causing your knee pain and how you can get rid of it for good, schedule a visit with Dr. Ghodadra by calling one of our two locations in Los Angeles or Thousand Oaks, California, today. You can also click online to book an appointment any time.