"Aah, you've got moviegoer's knee," he said, as I described the uncomfortable sensation I get when sitting at a lunch counter, on a train ride, or even at my desk while typing. Huh? He explained that my pain is most likely caused by a decrease in blood flow and hyaluronic acid, a joint lubricator, when the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. (Another condition, patellofemoral pain syndrome, can also cause similar pain.) Leg-strengthening exercises can help improve symptoms, he saidand I agree that since I've been hitting the weight machines regularly, I definitely have noticed less pain. But he also told me that moviegoer's knee can be a sign of early osteoarthritis. At the very least, this should be a wake-up call that maybe it is early enough to start thinking about the future.
A new study shows that this ancient Chinese exercise, which focuses on balance and flexibility, effectively treats pain and physical impairment of people with knee osteoarthritis. In fact, any type of low-impact movement that improves balance and helps me become more aware of how I use my joints can help, including regular stretching, yoga, Pilates, and ChiWalking.
I shouldn't stop running, but it might be wise for me to give my knees a rest a few days a week by switching to a low-intensity workout, such as swimming or biking. The repetitive, rotational motion of cycling has even been shown to stimulate cartilage and hyaluronic acid production, Dr. Theo said. Triathlon, here I come!
A higher-than-average body mass index may increase a person's risk of developing osteoarthritis in the hips and knees, according to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting. Scientists speculate that more pressure on the joints over time leads to faster deterioration and excess damage to the cartilage.
There are no long-term studies that show if one diet is better than the other for arthritis prevention, but researchers believe that the Mediterranean Dietrich in whole grains, fish, fruit, and vegetablescan help reduce arthritis-causing inflammation and provide the antioxidants I need to stay healthy.
Full disclosure: Dr. Theo does sell his own brand of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, so this one was no surprise. But his main recommendations for someone my age were actually omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D supplements, which can reduce inflammation and strengthen the body's physical support system. Oral hyaluronic acid and ASU, a supplement made from avocado and soybeans, are also sometimes recommended for those at risk of osteoarthritis.
The bottom line is, it was impossible for Dr. Theo to really tell what was going on in my knees without a complete examination to test my alignment, coordination, and joint strength"really pulling your leg around to see how your knee responds," he put it simply. If I keep experiencing pain or discomfort in my knees, it's important that I see a rheumatologist for a real opinion. At this point I might not be in much danger, but ignoring the problem will only make it harder to treat in the future.