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!

When is a Meniscus Tear Repairable?

When is a Meniscus Tear Repairable?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, one of the most common knee injuries is a tear in the meniscus. These rubbery pieces of cartilage act as shock absorbers in the knee to cushion and stabilize the knee joint. There are two menisci in each of your knees: one on the inside of the knee and one on the outer side.

Treatment of a meniscus tear depends on a number of factors, including the type of tear, its size and where the tear is located on the meniscus. Most meniscus tears result either from trauma or are degenerative. Traumatic tears come about from a twisting of the knee, often while engaged in sports and physical activity. Degenerative tears can occur as the body ages and tissue gradually breaks down over time.

The outer one-third of the meniscus has a rich supply of blood flow, which is important for any part of the body to heal. The inner two-thirds, however, have little to no blood flow. Nutrients from blood are necessary for the body to heal naturally, so when there are tears in the inner part of the meniscus, surgical trimming and removal of the torn piece is generally the best option.

Tears in the meniscus that are located near the outer edge of the knee are typically the result of trauma and are longitudinal – basically following parallel to the long side of the meniscus. This makes these injuries the best candidates for surgical repair.

Arthroscopic surgery for such tears can be very successful at repairing the damage. This is a minimally invasive treatment, as only a few small incisions in the knee are needed. A miniature camera is inserted in one incision, and surgical instruments are inserted in the others, allowing the surgery to all take place within the knee. The tear is closed by stitching the torn pieces together.

Recovery time from a meniscus repair is longer than for surgery where part of the meniscus is removed because the tissue must heal together, requiring 3-4 months away from sports. However, you can expect to fully return to your previous level of activity once healing is complete.

If you have sustained a knee injury or are experiencing knee pain, contact us at Missouri Orthopedics and Advanced Sports Medicine. Dr. Irvine has extensive experience in treating knee pain and injuries, and is trained in the most advanced techniques in arthroscopic surgery.

Secrets To Maximizing Your Recovery And Rehabilitation Following Knee Surgery

Following arthroscopic knee surgery, you’ll be faced with the recovery and rehabilitation process. This time of healing can sometimes feel overwhelming. Fortunately we’ve got some ideas on how you can maximize your healing. Eight ways, to be precise.

  • Be patient: Arthroscopic knee surgery is the least invasive way to repair knee injury or disease, and Dr. Irvine is very good at it. But the recovery process – when your body is rebuilding tissues and strengthening connections – takes time. Be patient.
  • Be ready to start rehab immediately: With very few exceptions, you’ll be starting physical therapy within 24 hours of your surgery. In order to get your full range of motion back, you’ve got to move!
  • Communicate: Your doctor and others involved in your rehab need to know how your knee is feeling, what hurts and what doesn’t, and how well you’re following the rehab plan.
  • Expect a little pain: You’ve heard of “no pain, no gain” right? Recovery following knee surgery is no different. We think you’ll be surprised at how little pain you have, and will provide you with pain medication to help.
  • Don’t suffer: Having a little pain while you’re following the exercise plan outlined for you is normal. But if your pain feels unmanageable, speak up! Although pain can be a normal part of the healing process, when pain is extreme it can signal complications or infection.
  • Don’t push ahead of your rehab plan: Depending on your pre-surgery activity level and the condition or injury that made surgery necessary, you may think that pushing harder will make your healing progress faster. This is rarely accurate. Your rehab plan is carefully designed to maximize your healing without creating any additional injury.
  • Expect peaks and valleys: Your rehabilitation progress won’t be a straight line. Expect peaks and valleys as your body heals. This will help you manage a tough day or when you feel like you’re not seeing the progress you’d like.
  • Pay attention to your mental health: Moments of frustration and even depression are perfectly normal. Denny Hamlin, NASCAR racer, talked about this recently following a repeat knee surgery. “That’s the biggest hurdle mentally that we fight through all this is not being able to do some of these activities [golfing and running] that we use to…” during the rehab process.

Knowing what to expect, following your rehab plan, and communicating through the process will go a long way to maximizing your recovery and rehabilitation following knee surgery. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you have, and we’ll stay with you until you’re fully recovered.

Knee Arthroscopy: Your First Step to Minimize Your Time on the Sidelines!

Your knee hurts. Maybe it’s been building slowly to this point, or maybe you know exactly when it happened. Maybe it’s a dull ache; maybe it’s a sharp pain that makes everyday activities unbearable. In any case, when you are tired of the pain impacting your performance, it is time to consult a professional like Dr. Irvine.

One of the most common methods of diagnosing knee pain is knee arthroscopy. With this procedure, several small incisions are made on and around your knee and a small high-resolution camera is used to view the joint. Arthroscopy can also help your doctor repair your knee, as the other incisions are used to insert small instruments to remove or repair damaged tissue.

The procedure can be performed under either local, regional or general anesthesia, and is commonly performed in a matter of hours as an outpatient procedure, so no overnight hospital stays are usually required.

While recovery time depends on a number of factors, typical recovery time from arthroscopic knee surgery is 4-6 weeks, which is generally much faster than the time required to recover from open knee surgery. Of course, your results will largely depend on your willingness and ability to be an active participant by following your doctor’s instructions for post-surgery care and adhering to your prescribed physical therapy regimen.

No procedure is guaranteed to alleviate knee pain, and it is important for your doctor to evaluate your symptoms and medical history before determining whether you are a candidate for knee arthroscopy.

For more information about knee arthroscopy, or to schedule an appointment, contact us to take the first step to getting off the sidelines and back into the game.

Common Hockey Injuries

Concussions, Back Injuries, Elbow Injuries

Hockey Players Take A Beating, Typically

It is no surprise that hockey player undergo some physical pushing and shoving during the game. Sometimes the game is so physical that it can lead to injuries to their body which requires the medical attention of a doctor. We recommend an advanced sports medicine doctor like our very own, Dr. Irvine.

Ice hockey players fighting during game, Dr. Irvine, Sport Medicine

What are some common hockey player injuries?

Concussion This is a traumatic brain injury which may alter the way your brain functions.

Shoulder Injury* Our team evaluates and treat shoulder injuries including labral tears, Bankart lesions, rotator cuff tears & more.

Elbow Injury* Dr Irvine helps east the pain from elbow injuries such as fractures.

Back Injury Hockey players are especially at risk for lower back injuries which can affect your skating stride and overall comfort.

Hip Injury* Dr Irvine is experienced in treating hip arthroscopy as well as performing total hip replacement.

Knee Injury* Our doctor can perform ACL and PCL reconstruction, whether it be minimally invasive or a total reconstruction. However, his experience does not stop there. He is also able to treat a number of other knee conditions and injuries.

Wrist Injury* If you are experiencing a mallet finger injury and/or a wrist or hand fracture, then Dr. Irvine is your guy to call.

* Denotes services in which Dr. Irvine can help diagnose & treat.

If you are interested in jumping onto the road of recovery, and would like to become a potential patient of ours, please call today to schedule your appointment 314-567-5850.