Be Kind to Your Knees Please

You are born with only two of them. Yes, in these modern times it is possible to buy new ones. However knee replacement doesn't come without its costs. Besides the estimated $45,000-$60,000 for the procedure, there is rehabilitation time, possible complications, and failure rates.

Most knee replacements are due to pain associate with osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective cartilage around joints starts to wear down. In the spirit of prevention, here are some steps to preserve your knees.

Unload Excess Baggage
Just like hauling a refrigerator in your car can wear out its shocks, excess weight can do damage to your knees. In fact, obesity is one of the most important factors contributing to the need for knee replacement. Studies show that heavier people are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than normal weight people. This is due to the fact that the more weight you carry, the more stress is placed on the knee joints leading to a break down of cartilage. Not only does extra weight increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis, heavier people have also been shown to have more pain even if the amount of arthritic damage is the same. This is because the more downward pressure you have acting on your knee without protective cartilage can be very painful.

Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Too much inflammation increases pain and joint degeneration. When it comes to fighting inflammation, I feel the ideal place to start is the diet. It is best to avoid inflammatory foods like conventional red meats, refined carbohydrates, and nightshade vegetables. It has been proposed that nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants contain alkaloids that inhibit normal collagen repair in the joints and promote inflammatory degeneration of the joint. Other foods might be problematic and you might want to consult with a naturopath to weed out possible food intolerances.

Foods that you should be eating more of are coldwater fish, gluten-free whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. One anti-inflammatory food of particular interest is broccoli. Recently it was discovered that a compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation.

Keep Moving
Simply walking an hour every day could be a great first step in preventing and reducing the progression of knee osteoarthritis. The reason for this is the less we move the weaker our muscles become which leads to joint instability increasing inflammation and pain. One study found that with every 1,000 steps taken, functional limitations were reduced by 16%. For the most benefit, we need to be taking at least 6,000 steps a day. Want to know how many steps you are taking per day? You can either purchase a pedometer or download a free one on your smartphone.

Have Healthy Feet
Our feet set the foundation for healthy knees, hips and spine. According to, clinical faculty member at Bastyr University, an asymmetrical arch collapse in the feet affects the tracking of the knee. This can lead to significant stress on the knee and can certainly cause pain as well as predisposing us to knee injuries such as meniscal tears. One simple way to improve foot problems is to wear custom orthotics. I also like to recommend to my patients to help strengthen ligaments and muscles of the foot. My favorite, the towel roll, is surprisingly challenging.