We need our knees to run, walk, squat. With research suggesting our bones are weaker than those of Westerners, here’s a quiz to test how well you are caring for your ‘hinges’
Walking, running, climbing, dancing — the knees bear the brunt of every move we make throughout our lives. The main hinge between the ground and the body, knees bring together the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), fibula (next to tibia) and kneecap, and work as wheels that keep you going.
But since they are bound by a complicated system of ligaments, muscle, tendons and cartilage, knees are highly prone to injury. Research has found that bones of Indians tend to be weaker than their Western counterparts: We are more prone to osteoporosis than Americans and British. Perhaps, that’s why the total number of knee replacements in India, both total and partial, has seen a huge 30 per cent increase from 2004 to 2008. The same period also saw a 61 per cent rise in these surgeries among men and women ages 45 to 64. It’s expected to increase.
Knee pain occurs when the cartilage that covers and acts as a cushion inside the joint, wears out, causing the bones to rub against each other. Healthy knees can make all the difference between a comfortable life and a painful existence. Here’s checking how much you know about the crucial joint:
1. 2 out of 3 obese adults suffer from knee osteoarthritis at some point in their life.
Answer: A. Excess body mass puts extra pressure on the knee joint, hastening its wear and tear. Being overweight increases the chances of developing osteoarthritis, a common and disabling form of arthritis, in the knee. Joint replacement surgeon Dr Arun Mullaji says, “Even a kilo of excess weight puts 6 kg worth of stress on the joints. People who live a sedentary life need to ensure they get active and fit.”
2. What’s the most effective trick to ensure knee health?
A. Regular cyclical low-impact exercise
B. Maintaining correct body weight through a balanced diet
Answer: A. Exercise is important even in severe arthritis. If you suffer knee pain, try stationary cycling, walking and swimming instead of high impact exercises. “Static strengthening exercises for quadriceps, hamstring muscles and knee range movements are recommended,” says Dr K. Sudhir Reddy, joint replacement surgeon. Minimise squatting. “When you squat,” says Reddy, “there is high load concentration on a small area, that is the knee.”
3. What sort of diet keeps your knees in ship-shape through the sunset years?
A. High-carb and fat diet; fats help lubricate the joints
B. Diet rich in dairy and protein
Answer: B. Although diet has no direct effect on joints, weight reduction does. Ensure you get your daily requirement of calcium and Vitamin D to help combat osteoporosis. Have protein supplements (glocosamine and chondroitin) to strengthen cartilage. “Those suffering from gouty arthritis will benefit from cutting down on food that increases uric acid levels in the blood (red meat),” says Mullaji.
4. Why are women more prone to osteoporosis?
A. They wear high heels for long hours
B. They skip exercise and eat a mismanaged diet
Answer: B. Orthopedists have reported an increased number of osteoarthritis patients, especially women over 40 years. Reddy lists four reasons for this: “Women tend to be more sedentary/home-bound, tend to squat/sit on the floor more often, and display a higher incidence of obesity. Also, a girl child, especially in rural India, is more likely to be malnourished than a male child.”