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Are Joint Diseases Causing My Achy Knees?

Updated on December 4, 2012

No Fun Getting Older

It seems highly unfortunate that although your mind tells you that you are in your early twenties, the body isn’t prone to such flights of fancy and keeps reminding you in no uncertain terms that you are a lot older than that.

Especially when you start to feel all the aches and pains that accompanies getting that much older.

Arthritis is a particular condition that will give you stiff joints and a constant pain and is quite common in older people. It is caused by a great many different things including injury, disease or just plain wear and tear. The risk of developing arthritis has also been indirectly linked to certain lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and drinking.

There are other joint diseases that can bring you aches and pains as you get older and they include bursitis and gout as well as the common forms of arthritis.

Although all joints are prone to attack, achy knees are certainly a very common phenomenon.

Achy Knees

Achy Knees is something that affects as many as 1 in 3 people at some point in their lives according to research conducted by the University of Nottingham on the subject. The burning question is how can achy knees be treated or, more to the point, avoided. The answer to these questions will depend on what has caused the achy knees. Men and women of all ages can suffer from this condition and it could be caused by something as trivial as sleeping awkwardly or it could be caused by full blown osteoarthritis or other inflammatory condition affecting the knee joint.

Causes and Remedies

As mentioned previously, achy knees are remarkably common and so in order to understand the condition it is important to look at a few of the main culprits and work out how they can be remedied.

1. Sleep posture may cause a problem if you have put undue pressure on your knees for any length of time. This can cause both pain and stiffness and, if there are no underlying joint problems, the effects should wear off relatively quickly. This would more than likely be a one-off kind of event, but if it persists you should try to adopt a better sleep posture and if that doesn’t solve the problem you should seek medical advice to see whether or not something else is causing the discomfort in your knee joints.

2. The knee joint comes under an enormous amount of pressure from day to day even through the simple task of walking. The strain on the joint intensifies as the workload on it increases and this in itself may lead to achy knees. Again, this is generally just a temporary thing and the pain and stiffness will ease off gradually. Complications may arise should you twist your knee whilst exercising. If the knee joint is injured you should stop putting weight on it and rest it or seek medical advice. You may also try some remedies such as an ice pack if the knee joint starts to swell and painkillers if there is a lot of pain with it.

3. Sometimes the ache in your knees can’t be explained by poor sleep posture or a jogging injury, yet still the knee joint feels stiff and painful, especially when you first wake up in the morning. Welcome to the ageing process! In fairness though, age alone doesn’t cause knees to ache, but people who are older are more susceptible to diseases like arthritis. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and both can cause very achy knees because of the deterioration of the joint over time. This problem is not curable and so the best that can be achieved is some relief and a little control over the complaint. There are quite a number of ways that the joint pain and inflammation can be tackled and usually a combination of methods is employed. Some treatments are extremely slow-acting and, therefore, it requires quite a lot of patience before any results are observed. The main methods of tackling achy knees caused by arthritis are as follows:

a. Medication – Both steroid and non-steroidal drugs can be prescribed together with pain killers. Each drug tackles the problem in a slightly different way and, as it is not always wise to mix drugs, other methods are used in conjunction with the drugs.

b. Lifestyle – It may be necessary to change eating habits, such as embarking on something like the Paleo Diet, or making sure that the diet contains substances that are beneficial to arthritis. Foods that are rich in Omega-3 are thought to be good for Arthritis and so oily fish, some nuts and seeds are a good choice. More exercise is also a good thing to do to try to regain control of the pain and also to improve the functionality of affected joints whilst, at the same time, benefiting the body and general health.

c. Physiotherapy – Continuing on the healthy living theme, sometimes it helps to have a focus when taking on the exercise so that you gain maximum benefit from it. Physiotherapy will provide this by working out a fitness program that is best suited to your condition.

How Can Achy Knees Be Avoided?

It has been said for a long time that prevention is better than cure and in the case of arthritis, which has no cure, it seems a reasonable enough argument. Wear and tear is an inevitable process as we begin to age, but there are outside factors that can be controlled which may make the onset of arthritis in old age less of a likelihood, or at least to defer it.

Whilst diet is an important factor, not only in the risk of contracting arthritis, but also in helping to keep to a healthy lifestyle generally, there are two activities which humans indulge in that can have a real significant impact on the risk of developing arthritis – smoking and the consumption of alcohol.

1. The hazards of smoking have been widely reported and there is evidence linking it with arthritis. The smoke generated by a typical cigarette contains more than 4000 harmful toxic chemicals and carcinogens, yet people continue to introduce those harmful substances to their bodies. Cutting out cigarettes and other tobacco products could significantly reduce not only the risk of developing arthritis, but also a host of other problems and diseases associated with tobacco. It’s not always essential to quit smoking to lead a healthy life. It’s now possible to get hold of electronic cigarettes more easily. They have the look and feel of a real cigarette, yet they eliminate all the nasty chemicals that tobacco smoke yields. The vapours they use are quite sophisticated and it is possible to get them in various flavours, including a smoker’s favourite cigarette brand. In addition, it is possible to regulate the amount of nicotine in the electronic cigarette.

2. The jury is out on the possible benefits of using alcohol to control arthritis. It is thought in some circles that alcohol is in fact harmful and, can cause arthritis. It may be worth looking at the facts before deciding which one seems the more plausible.

a. Why alcohol is bad. The effects of alcohol are known to be numerous and not all of them are good for the body and soul. It can affect judgement, which could lead to injury to the knee joint. It can also interfere with the efficiency of some arthritis drugs and is also known to cause bone loss.

b. Why alcohol is good. Whereas excessive amounts of alcohol are detrimental to arthritis sufferers, it has been said that moderate drinking can actually help. A Scandinavian study showed that in more than 1500 cases, moderate intake of alcohol actually reduced the risk of developing arthritis by as much as 50%.

What’s The Verdict?

It would appear that it is quite possible for achy knees to be caused by arthritis, but there is hope in the form of treatments, remedies and control. It is worth ruling out other simpler causes first before treating the problem. Depending on the severity of the arthritis, it may be possible to control the pain and the inflammation using both prescription drugs and dietary supplements. If it is spotted really early, using preventive measures could result in saving it from getting worse for much longer. For those people worried about developing achy knees, it would be seriously worth considering giving up cigarettes and alcohol and sticking to a healthy well balanced meal.

The only other method is for you not to grow old, but try as we might, that is one issue that we are not going to get resolved any time soon.

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    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 4 years ago from The City of Generals

      I'm beginning to feel those achy knees, my! am I getting old? :=) I supposed it's due to long hours of sitting plus I needed to be more serious with exercise or stretching. I'm not so sure if this is arthritis, but thanks that I don't drink hard alcohol, I only have around 9% the least and 14% maximum alcohol content of a glass of grape wine almost every other day. Very helpful hub. Voted up!

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