Why Knee Pain Worsens with Age

Some conditions can worsen knee pain as you get older.

Osteoarthritis and Obesity Can Increase Knee Pain

Every step you take puts pressure on your knees and joints, so it makes sense that as you age, that wear and tear takes a toll and you notice more pain. However, certain conditions can increase your knee pain and being aware may help you avoid some of the discomfort.

  • Osteoarthritis – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 14 percent of Americans over the age of 24 have osteoarthritis. It’s a common type in which the cartilage that protects the bones in your knees breaks down, causing pain and discomfort. After the age of 65, that number increases to 34 percent. In most cases, knee pain in older adults is caused by osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity – As we age, we often gain a few extra pounds. But those pounds can add up quickly and the result is more wear and tear on your knees as they try to bear the load of extra weight. Being overweight also increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Muscle Changes – Between the ages of 20 and 60, your muscles may shrink in size by roughly 40 percent. As a result, you lose strength. The muscles in your hips and legs take some of the force on your legs, but your knees bear the brunt of decrease in muscle mass.

If you haven’t yet experienced knee pain, there are things you can do to avoid it. Start by losing those extra pounds and exercising more.   According to a recent study, exercise provided knee pain benefits similar to those from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Experts recommend strength training and walking. The more you exercise, the more likely you are to lose weight and the less likely you’ll be to experience knee pain.

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