Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”

Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”

Having “bad knees” is a common complaint for patients of all ages. But there are many reasons for knee pain no matter how old you are, and seeing a doctor is certainly recommended to diagnose the cause. While proper treatment is crucial to motility, remaining in an active lifestyle is equally an important pursuit to help ensure longevity of your overall health. In fact, exercise can help stabilize the knee and alleviate some pain issues born of stiffness or due to lack of activity, but exercise can also aid in warding off major health problems such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Of course, the best exercises for knees certainly depend on the source of individual pain, but in general, there are some low impact options that are kinder to compromised knees that can keep you active while you continue to manage or treat your knee pain.

  • Walking for low impact. If arthritis is causing you knee pain, walking might be the solution for you. In fact, a regular walking routine can reduce stiffness and inflammation and won’t generally contribute to worsening chronic conditions. According to the CDC, walking keeps your heart and bones strong and joints working as you age. Just try to build strength and endurance slowly, listen to your body as you limit exercise time and make walking on softer surfaces with flat, flexible athletic shoes a priority.
  • Swimming for cardio. Swimming is an enjoyable activity that’s good for almost everyone–and a great calorie-burning exercise. It alleviates weight placed on the knees and joints, while allowing movement with less pain. Swimming also has the ability to work all your muscles, toning the back, strengthening the stomach and working out arms and legs. For some extra training, many gyms with pools offer water aerobics classes that provide the benefit of a weights or resistance workout without the added pressure on your joints you’d have in a traditional gym session.
  • Try the elliptical.  If you belong to a gym, or are in the market for some home equipment, the elliptical machine is a great option as well. It enables the same motions of running without the impact on the knees. The great thing about the elliptical machine is that it works out arms, too, giving full body benefit while allowing you to decide how long or how hard to train. Additionally, if you’re recovering from a knee injury, it can even improve your knee health by providing an opportunity to build leg strength through the use of resistance settings.
  • Biking. While this workout will require you to consult your doctor about the safety of biking with your particular knee problem, it can be a good option for bad knees. Cycling is even often recommended by doctors as a good recovery option from knee injuries. If the particular motions cause you pain, try adjusting the settings on your bike at the gym or the length of time you exercise to work up stamina and strength slowly. Done outdoors as well as in, investing in a real bike (as opposed to a stationary one) may be one of the most beneficial things you’ll ever do if getting fresh air is something you love.
  • Try Yoga! Yoga is an extremely popular exercise that offers a myriad of benefits for health and fitness, including reduction of chronic pain, the promotion of relaxation and the ability to build strength and stamina. Because it’s often low impact, yoga can be enjoyed by almost anyone and can range in intensity depending on preference and skill level. Yoga helps building core muscles, improving muscle tone and flexibility, and poses can always be modified to provide less stress on knees.

While the above are great ways to stay in shape even if you experience knee pain, Dr. Irvine can advise you on the specifics of your situation for recovery from injury or management of chronic conditions and will ensure optimal safety—and enjoyment–in your exercise routine. Contact us for a consultation today!

The Remarkable Hand

What makes humans so “human”? While there are certainly many factors – spiritual, emotional, physical – that make us human, the human hand is a unique appendage that opened up amazing possibilities in our becoming human.

From our opposable thumbs to the amazing sensory receptiveness of our fingertips, the human hand is ideally sculpted for exploration and manipulation of this incredibly complex world. A study at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in 2013 determined that the human finger can find an irregularity as small as 13 nanometers, which is less than 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair. With sensory tools like that at our disposal, it’s not surprising we humans have done as well as we have!

Let’s spend a minute and look at the basic set-up of the hand.

The eight bones of the wrist are called the carpal bones. The carpal tunnel is the narrow passage through which passes all of the blood and nerve supply for the hand. You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when, for a variety of reasons, that passageway no longer allows for friction-free passage of the tendons, nerves and blood supply to the hand, causing pain and dysfunction.

The five long bones that stretch from your wrist to the base of your fingers are called metacarpals, and the individual bones of your fingers are called the phalanges (phalanx is singular). The muscles and tendons that move your hands and fingers are incredibly sensitive, allowing us to pick up tiny objects, while they are strong enough to lift frying pans and carry babies!

It’s amazing all that we can do with our hands! However, when we begin having pain or discomfort in our hands, it can be difficult to function in the day-to-day. If you are experiencing pain in your hands or wrists, please contact us to set up an evaluation.

Scoliosis

General Orthopedic Care

Human Spine

At our center we treat patients on a regular basis as a general orthopedic care center but many of our patients are unaware of a chronic spine condition that often needs ongoing support from spine surgery and aids such as back braces. This condition is called scoliosis and it relates to a curvature of the spine that needs to be corrected.

Written below we have detailed the interesting facts, myths and pieces of art related to the condition. If you have scoliosis you may have heard these already. On the other hand if you are learning about scoliosis for the first time these five unique facts might take you by surprise.

A novel about scoliosis

Many teenagers over the past four decades have learned about scoliosis by reading Judy Blume’s novel “Deenie.” In the book, a teenager deals with the transitional period of being diagnosed and treated for scoliosis. Along the way she struggles with the corrective brace that cuts through her new clothes. She also deals with the social aspects of being different than other kids. However in the past 40 years the braces for treating scoliosis have changed significantly. For example, today’s braces do not de-emphasize the chest area, and are considerably less bulky than the type the character Deenie described.

Scoliosis empowerment support group

Did you know that there was a specific support group in place to empower young girls with scoliosis? According to Curvy Girls founder Leah Stoltz when girls are diagnosed with scoliosis, they often grow silent. For this reason Stoltz has actively maintained a website-based support group specifically for scoliosis-diagnosed girls. Stoltz also talks with social workers and guidance counselors about the special needs of girls with scoliosis.

High scoliosis statistics

In America the statistics related to scoliosis are as high as one-in-40. Regardless most are considered mild cases and the causes for scoliosis are generally unknown. Once diagnosed a child will be monitored with X-rays. If the condition becomes severe surgery or braces may be used to correct the curvature of the spine.

Do not forget about kyphosis

In the field of medicine, there are two conditions that affect the way the spine grows. While scoliosis is an S or C-shaped curvature of the spine from one side of the back to the other, there is a similar condition that bends the spine into the front of the abdomen from the back. Called kyphosis, it can occur when there is a failure for the spine to form or a failure of segmentation of the spine.

Silliest scoliosis myth

On a number of scoliosis websites there are doctors writing about a common myth. Evidently many people believe that heavy backpacks cause children to get scoliosis. This is refuted by medical science and is not a proven cause for scoliosis. Nevertheless keep in mind that there are many areas of the back that can suffer duress due to carrying bags or luggage that exceed the weight your back can withstand. For all of these reasons when you need professional orthopedic care know that we are the educated ear you have been looking for. Thank you for choosing Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine and we look forward to hearing from you.

Total Joint Replacement

Having Total Joint Replacement

Total joint replacement is not a step that is ever taken lightly, but should you need this advanced surgical option, Missouri Orthopedics and Advanced Sports Medicine is committed to making this a winning experience from evaluation to recovery: Missouri Sports Medicine. Before deciding your joint’s condition warrants replacement, several less drastic forms of care may be tried. These can include physical therapy, injections, and arthroscopic surgery. If these ameliorative treatments don’t restore the joint’s normal function, an x-ray, and possibly an MRI, may be ordered to determine any joint and tissue damage.

The Decision for Surgery

Assuming that you are healthy enough for surgery, joint instability, pain that won’t allow you to sleep at night, the inability to perform the normal daily functions of life, and being prevented from doing the things you enjoy are all factors that may lead you to decide that total joint replacement is the best option. After you and your doctor decide that you will go ahead with the surgery, you will be thoroughly briefed on what to expect, and you will also be informed about the preparation that should take place in the home, so your recovery phase will run smoothly. In most cases you will be administered general anesthesia before the procedure begins. Using knee-joint replacement as an example, damaged parts of the joint will be removed in preparation for your new knee, and after the surfaces of the joint have been prepared, the new components of the knee will be anchored in place.

Post-Total Joint Surgery

After coming out of surgery, a great number of post-surgical tasks will be taking place. You will, of course, be having pain medication administered, but steps will also be undertaken to monitor the surgery site for infection. You may also receive blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming, and as soon as possible, steps will be taken to maximize the joint’s flexibility. Your hospital stay may last from 3-5 days, and, in addition to post-operative care, light physical therapy will begin.

Recovery From Total Joint Surgery

By far, the greatest part of your recovery will take place during the 4 to 6 weeks following surgery. The physical therapy and follow-up doctor visits you keep will have you well on the way to a much-improved quality of life. If you need a consultation about possibly needing this procedure, please contact us.

Retired? Stay Healthy at Home by Exercising

  • With Americans living longer on average than any time in history, people have questions about how to remain healthy during their retirement. Remaining healthy certainly includes physical activity; in fact, physical activity is essential. According to the Center on Disease Control, if you are 65 or older and are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions, you should get two hours and thirty minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity each week–or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, and you should also train muscles twice per week.

Tufts Medical suggests several at-home exercises for retired people to develop stamina and strength. These can be done inside or outside the house!

Mature man working out at home

First two weeks

Walks: walk for five minutes to get warmed up and the blood flowing, outside if the weather suits or around the house. Treadmills are fine, too. The point is to get the heart pumping.

Squats: stand directly in front of a sturdy chair, with your arms stretched forward and parallel to the ground. With feet slightly wider than shoulder width, slowly lower your buttocks to the chair. Then stand again. Make sure you control the squat movement as you repeat 10 times.

Wall Push-ups: standing in front of a clear wall, place your palms on the wall–feet should be shoulder width. Then, bend the elbows as you lean toward the wall. Push back. Without ever locking your elbows, repeat ten times. Rest a minute. Do ten more.

Toe Stands: against something sturdy, such as a chair, counter, or wall, raise your self until you are standing only on the balls of your feet as you count to 4. Hold it at the top for 2-4 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Rest a minute. Repeat another 10 times.

Finger Marching: sitting or standing, imagine a wall in front of you while you walk your fingers up the wall, wiggling them at the top for ten seconds. Walk them back down. Repeat 10 times. Rest a minute. Repeat another 10 times. After, with arms and fingers stretched to the sky, try to touch your back with your hands. Continue the stretch if you can by reaching for the opposite elbow.

Increasing Strength During Weeks Three to Seven

For these additional exercises, you will need dumbbells and ankle weights, which are best purchased to add weight as you progress, beginning with 2 lbs for women and 3 lbs for men:

Bicep curl: sitting or standing, hold the dumbbells with arms down and palms facing thighs. Rotate forearms as you slowly lift the weights until palms are facing shoulders. Pause. Lower the weights to original position. Repeat 10 times. Rest a minute. Repeat another 10 times.

Step-ups: stand facing the base of some stairs with a handrail. Raise your left leg and place it on the stair. Then, place your weight on the left leg as you raise your right. Tap the right foot on the stair and then return. Repeat 10 times. Rest a minute. Repeat another 10 times for each leg.

Overhead Press: standing or sitting with feet should width, raise your hands with your palms and forearms facing forward, until the dumbbells are level with your shoulders and parallel to the floor. Slowly push the dumbbells up, fully extending, without locking the elbows. Pause. Slowly lower, as you count to four. Repeat 10 times. Rest a minute. Repeat another 10 times.

Side hip rise: standing behind a chair, with feet shoulder width, place your hands on the chair back. Slowly lift your left leg to the side, counting to 2 and keeping the leg straight. Remember, do not lock the knee. Then, slowly counting four, lower the leg. Repeat 10 times. Rest a minute. Repeat another 10 times for each leg.

After seven weeks, you should be in great shape, when you can add more strenuous exercises. Contact Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine for any orthopedic concerns as you develop your fitness. Remember, keep motivated by setting goals, and they will help you maintain a consistent workout.