Linked to the degradation of the cartilage covering the end of the bone, osteoarthritis of the knee (gonarthrosis) causes sometimes intense pain, complicating daily life: difficult to squat to put on shoes, to take the stairs, to practice a sport and even to walk without triggering discomfort, stiffness, pain.
Restricting one’s activities would only accentuate the problem: keeping a well-oiled joint and keeping osteoarthritis flare-ups at bay requires, on the contrary, continuing to move, it is even one of the key measures for successful treatment.
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Pay attention to weight… and heredity
The frequency of knee osteoarthritis increases over the years: it affects 65% of those over 65 and 80% of those over 80. But age is far from the only factor involved. Gender (women are more affected), overweight and the intensive practice of certain activities such as football, basketball or skiing, pivot sports causing twisting of the knee, are also involved. Another key element: the change in weight between the ages of 20 and 60.
According to a study presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology in June 2022, significant weight gain during these forty years increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis., says Dr. Augustin Latourte, rheumatologist at the Lariboisière hospital in Paris.
Did your parents already suffer from it? Heredity also plays a role. “Certain genes are involved in the quality of the cartilage, probably making it more fragile vis-à-vis minor traumas”, continues Dr. Latourte. So many reasons to adopt the right reflexes as soon as possible.
First recommendation: move regularly, as much as possible. “Physical activity is a real protective remedy against joint complications,” says Dr. Christophe Delong, specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation in Paris.
“The movement, practiced with reason, has only advantages: it maintains the mobility, the tone of the muscles surrounding the joint, and it stimulates the cells of the cartilage essential for its renewal.” No activity is prohibited, from cycling to swimming, including dancing, bodybuilding or running. A recent study confirms that running does not affect cartilage, including in the knee.
Other advantage of sports: it promotes weight loss, an aggravating factor in osteoarthritis. “Overweight multiplies by four to six the risks of developing knee osteoarthritis. Conversely, each kilo lost reduces the pressure on each knee by 4kg”. encourages Nathalie Negro, dietician-nutritionist in charge of the nutritional center of the Thermes de Brides-les-Bains, specializing in weight loss.