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BY DR. ARNAN SISSON
November 13, 2023
If you remember, a few weeks ago, I did a short series on the most common myths surrounding low back pain. We received a lot of great follow-up questions from folks in the community and also a ton of comments about another big problem area that I specialize in, the knees! So, I figured we would tackle some of the most common knee pain myths this week.
Something I hear from many of my new clients coming into the clinic is that their knee(s) are worn out from years of exercise and active occupation. What usually happens with these folks is, that because they’re so active with their job or personal life and they have developed some pain, they will stop doing all of these activities. Now, what I usually tell them is that you may have to change the way you do your hobbies, but you definitely DO NOT stop doing them! It is one of the WORST things you can do! Typically, being less active only magnifies the pain. A recent study compared arthritic knees in runners and non-runners and found they were no different, so don’t let an active lifestyle scare you once you’ve developed pain—there are ways to fix it!
Similarly, folks get the idea of “Now, that I have osteoarthritis, I must rest my knee by doing less.” If you have severe knee pain, you may want to rest it for a day or two at most. Research shows that resting the knees longer than two days is too much, and to be honest, in most cases, you won’t need the rest at all. I teach my clients the “Golden Rule” with any ache or pain is to gradually build up your activity. So, if you’re experiencing knee pain, a good place to start is getting to the side of your bed and swinging your leg forward and back slightly within a pain-free range several times throughout the day, and then begin gradually building up your activities and general exercise. If you can’t seem to get full resolution of pain from daily exercise, that is when you should seek out more specialized exercise medicine/experts.
The most common knee pain myth I hear is that MRIs give the FULL picture—this is absolutely FALSE! A study showed about 76 to 77 percent of folks over the age of 50 had a damaged meniscus without feeling any pain whatsoever. So, if you get these MRI findings that show arthritis or meniscal damage, be very cautious. I’ve had a lot of clients who jumped to surgery too quickly with those results when more often those MRI findings are signs of a normal part of aging and not quite linked to your pain necessarily.
Overall, it’s best to try out more conservative approaches such as exercise or consulting someone for more specialized exercise medicine, rather than wasting a lot of time, and a lot of money on these painful, invasive procedures that you likely don’t need.
Be sure to check here next week for the second part of this mini-series on knee pain myths!
That’s it for today, everyone! Remember knowledge is power!
P.S. This quick article should help a good bit with any knee ache or pain, but if you’d like even more guidance we offer only 2-3 free phone consultations with our knee pain specialist a week. Our office can be contacted at (804) 493-3256, each phone consult reservation will be on a first come first serve basis.