THE BEE’S KNEES ~ Actively Living with Knee Osteoarthritis
In the late 18th century, the phrase “the bee’s knees” was first described as ‘something insignificant or small’. As the idiom – bee’s knees - ascended up through the centuries however, its definition also ascended in status, and by the 1920’s, something quite insignificant transformed into something that is outstanding, top notch, or the absolute best!
As children or young adults when our body functions at the top of its game, we are unquestionably the bee’s knees. As we mature, however, our body’s performance, specifically our knees, becomes less than outstanding.
Although our knees serve us well over the years, allowing us to sit, walk, run, dance, exercise, drive, march into war, pray, and morph into a horsey for our kids, knees wear out – plain and simple.
The most common malefactor in weakening our knees, the largest joint in the human body, is knee osteoarthritis; a degenerative malady of the knee joint caused by aging, genetics, being overweight, playing sports, cartilage and ligament injuries, and normal wear and tear. According to Dr. Mary I. O’Connor, chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, "Knee osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. and women have a greater pain and reductions in function and quality of life from this condition than do men".
Heads up Baby Boomers! Symptoms, however minor, creep in about middle age, and tag almost every one of us by the age of 70. Male or female, this ‘bug’ shows no favoritism before the age of 55; after that, look out girls, it’s looking for you!
How do you know if you’ve been stung? The most common symptoms are a sharp pain or burning sensation, stiffness, and a decreasing range of motion in the knee joint. Muscle spasms, a crackling sound when the knee moves, fluid on the knee, and an increase in pain during humid or cold weather may also be experienced. Your doctor will know best.
The good news is, this ailment will not turn on-the-go-active you into a couch potato whose new best friends are Ellen DeGeneres and Judge Judy; with a few tweaks here and there, to take the weight off your knees, an active lifestyle is still an option and participating in sports and regular exercise may just be what the doctor orders.
As per WebMD, study findings in the 1990’s “indicated that exercise is one of the best things you can do to alleviate the pain and function limitations of knee and hip arthritis”.
Swimming and water aerobics are excellent work out choices as they are light on the knees. According to University of Washington’s Dr. Andrew J. Cole, exercising in waist-level water can support up to 50% of your body weight, while water at neck-level can support up to 90% of your weight; and we all know how much fun there is to be had poolside!
If tennis is your game, but the hard surface, sudden stops, and quick lateral moves are causing too much knee pain, do a little tweaking and try Pickleball instead! I’ve participated in this sport and believe me, it is a great work out and a blast to play!
Walking or cycling, are also good low impact aerobic exercise choices. Joining or starting a group will not only give you the exercise you need, you will have the added bonus of meeting new friends. Meetup.com is a great place to start to find established groups in your area, or to notify others of a group you are starting.
Additionally; wearing the correct knee braces for your specific sport will also help support your weight, giving relief to the unhealthy parts of your knee.
If weight gain is your nemeses, start a healthy eating regimen today. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “eat a rainbow”? This is suggesting that you eat diverse colors of vegetables, not a bag of M & M’s. Practicing portion control and substituting packaged foods with whole grains, organic vegetables, and hormone and antibiotic-free meats, are a good place to start.
The moral of the story - lighten the load on your knees and rock on!
Suzi Martel, founder of In Suzi’s Words, is a freelance lifestyle writer, from Southern California, who has a passion for writing informative, entertaining copy on a variety of topics such as, cooking, tennis, healthy living, and caring for others.