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Keeping weight down can decrease risk of arthritis

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 11:33am
Baylor College of Medicine
HOUSTON -- (June 30, 2010) -- Those extra pounds are tough on the knees, even increasing the risk of arthritis, an orthopedic surgeon at Baylor College of Medicine says.

"Weight management is a major part of managing arthritis, particularly knee arthritis. If you are overweight or obese, then the incidence of arthritis goes up significantly," said Dr. Melvyn Harrington, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at BCM.

5 pounds can make a difference

Losing five pounds, Harrington said, can save the knees from feeling 15 to 20 pounds of pressure.

"The best way to minimize the risk of knee arthritis is to keep your weight down and avoid injuring the knee," said Harrington. "If you damage the cartilage that will predispose you to knee arthritis afterward."

What to do if any injury occurs

If a knee injury does occur from playing sports, or through some type of accident, Harrington recommends the RICE treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). If pain is continuous, a trip to the physician may be necessary.

Most cartilage injuries do not require surgical treatment, Harrington said, and can be treated at home or with physical therapy. However, surgery may be required, said Harrington, "if the torn cartilage is causing locking and catching [when the knee gets stuck], and isn't getting better with non operative management."

Some medications such as the antibiotic CIPRO® have been shown to weaken tendons. Harrington advises to be cautious while exercising when taking these medications. "It may even be safer to stop any strenuous activity until the prescription is finished."

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