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Weak in the Knees? Exercise for Healing

From the Show: Life's Too Short
Summary: What causes knee pain? How can you strengthen your knees? Can you heal your knees without surgery?
Air Date: 11/14/16
Duration: 16:39
Guest Bio: John P. Higgins, MD
Dr. John HigginsJohn P. Higgins, MD, MBA (Hons), MPHIL, FACC, FACP, FAHA, FACSM, FASNC, FSGC, is a sports cardiologist for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and the Harris Health System. His research interests include the effects of energy beverages on the body, and screening for underlying cardiovascular abnormalities in 12-year-olds (sixth graders), and steroid effects on the cardiovascular system.
The knee is a hinge joint with tendons and ligaments on all sides. It’s only intended to move in one plane, front and back. Some sports require rapid change of direction while on the knee. The tendons and ligaments that should stabilize can be damaged.

There are two major types of knee injuries. In sports enthusiasts who play burst activity, knee issues usually involve ligaments and muscles being torn. The older crowd faces knee pain from gradual degenerative disorders, often with the joint itself or the cartilage.

You can usually remember the exact moment your knee was injured, pinpointing a specific instance when the pain started. You may hear a pop. You may have some swelling a few hours after the injury. You may not be able to stop the activity because of the pain. If you’ve just injured your knee, the inflammatory phase lasts about three days. Use the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

There are some preventative measures you can take. While you can’t alter genetics and the angle of your knee joint, you can strengthen your knees. A combination of aerobics, resistance, flexibility and balance training will make you less likely to run into injuries than being an occasional sports participant. Warming up plays a significant role in preventing injury. Some antibiotics and medications can make you more prone to certain injuries. It may be best to refrain from exercise until any illness has passed.

A proper program for joint recovery can provide good results or knee injury. It strengthens the tendons and ligaments. It also stimulates production of the shock absorption fluid in the knees.

When you return to physical activity you may want to work slower and with fewer reps. It’s best to work just below the pain threshold. Give yourself a three to six month break from the exercise that led to the injury. Low impact exercises are best for healing. Try swimming, cycling, or fast walking. Pull back if you have difficulty. Braces are handy early in the healing process, but your knee needs some stress to strengthen itself.

Listen in as Dr. John Higgins discusses how you can take care of your knees.
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