Q. I've recently started a walking program to lose weight but am having difficulty because I have osteoarthritis in my knee, and it is hurting. How can I continue my exercise routine and protect my aching knee?
A. Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common osteoarthritis and disability affecting Americans. Walking, although a great exercise, is a weight-bearing impact activity that puts stress across the knee joint. Non-impact activities, such as a stationary or recumbent bike, an elliptical machine or swimming, are best for continuing exercise while decreasing stress across a painful knee. Straight leg raises are a simple home exercise to help strengthen the thigh muscles, which can help support and protect your knee. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if able, and ice to help control your pain. A simple knee sleeve has been shown to improve knee function and may even reduce your pain. Every pound of body weight lost is up to six pounds of pressure off your knee joint. Listen to your knee, and don't push through pain. If your pain continues, swelling develops or knee motion is lost, see your physician to consider other alternatives to help get you back to your exercise program.
-- Dr. Jason A. Robertson, non-operative sports medicine/orthopaedic specialist, Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
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