If you're often bothered by knee pain and stiffness, the problem could be arthritis. Nearly half of Americans will develop symptoms of knee osteoarthritis by their 80s. Among those who are obese, that fraction rises to two-thirds. How much do you really know about this common problem? Learn the truth about seven popular myths.
The Truth About Knee Arthritis https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fb8%2F9c%2F4c61d2034247b5f13df19bacd7e4%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-gettyimages-538686557-senior-african-american-woman-sitting-on-bench-reading.jpg
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it often occurs in the knees. But most of the 100 or so different types of arthritis and related diseases can affect the knees, as well. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common problem in older adults. But studies show that it's also on the rise among middle-aged adults. In fact, 40% of knee replacement surgeries are done in people younger than age 65. Factors that may contribute to knee osteoarthritis in younger adults include obesity, joint injuries, and genetics.
Myth: Knee arthritis is only for old people. https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F12%2F6c%2F6122f8434c64849abcda229aa542%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-gettyimages-171365855-woman-on-ground-holding-knee.jpg
If you delay seeing a doctor until your knees hurt when you walk across a room, you could be waiting too long. In the early stages of knee arthritis, knee pain when climbing stairs usually starts before pain when walking on a level surface. By heeding this warning and seeking help sooner, you might be able to reduce joint damage and disability.
Myth: The first thing affected is walking. https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/4992x3339%2B0%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F77%2F3d%2F109662214c68983f5d9ff7edd964%2Fimage-gettyimages-175237436.jpg
Regular exercise is a huge help for knee arthritis. It helps control your weight, improve your flexibility, and strengthen the muscles that support your knees. According to the CDC, older adults with knee osteoarthritis who get moderate exercise at least three times a week can reduce their risk for disability by nearly half.
Myth: Exercise is bad for your knees. https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F1c%2F29%2F5e5a6099430b9bbaa3d3f21d55d9%2Fimage-athlete-resting-hands-on-knees.jpg
According to the National Institutes of Health, research shows that acupuncture (used along with standard medical care) may help ease the pain of knee osteoarthritis. In acupuncture, a licensed professional inserts fine needles at specific points on the body. Scientists believe that this may cause the body to release its own pain-relieving chemicals. In some studies, sham acupuncture works as well as the real thing, suggesting that other factors are involved in acupuncture's effectiveness.
There are many different treatments available for knee arthritis, including oral medications, injections, and surgery. Other pain relief measures—such as heat or cold, exercise, and massage—may be helpful as well. The best treatment plan for you depends on the nature of your arthritis, as well as your lifestyle and overall health.
Myth: One treatment approach fits all. https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F9b%2F8d%2F240b90ba4cc0905770ecf89d1862%2Fimage-bliser-packs-of-medicines-and-pills.jpg
Many people take acetaminophen—a common over-the-counter pain reliever—to manage the pain of knee arthritis. However, a new analysis of data from 137 studies suggests that this may not be the best choice. Of several treatment options for knee osteoarthritis, only acetaminophen failed to produce a noticeable im