Will Cortisone Help My Knee Problem?

Do you have a nagging ache in your knee which is stiff in the morning? Have you been told you have arthritis? Are you considering a cortisone injection? If so, you’ll want to stick around and read this.

I want give you three tips for you to think about, but let’s look at some stats. Did you know that of the 323 million Americans, that roughly 20% are affected by knee pain? And that there are almost 6 million new cases of arthritis diagnosed in America every single year? Fortunately, over 50% of those are over the age of 65, which means it’s a condition of aging.

So, let’s talk about it. These questions came about because of a conversation I had with a client of mine by name of Hector. He’s a 56-year-old male, loves to surf. He’s been surfing for most of his life, up until about two months ago when he said work got really crazy. Now mind you, Hector has a previous history of some knee problems and he’s had that for about 10 years, but it’s been pretty manageable. And all the way up until two months ago, he surfed regularly. Then he got really busy at work, said his activities went totally down south, and then he ended up trying to go back to surfing a couple weeks ago, only to find out that his knee pain was much worse than it was even before.

So he actually considered a cortisone injection. So he wanted to know, would it help with the knee pain? So the short answer is, “Yes, it would help,” but unfortunately, it’s not going fix the problem, which means the problem is going to eventually come back or the pain is going to come back. The other downside is that cortisone is catabolic, which means it breaks things down. And so if your cartilage is already being broke down, and now you’re putting in a substance that causes more breakdown. So it can actually cause more problems in the long run. Now I’m not saying cortisone isn’t warranted. All I’m saying is that you have to be of the understanding that it could actually do more damage than it can good.

So, let’s talk about three tips that you can do. First is activity. You need moderate activity five days a week, for 30 minutes at a time. That has shown to be able to stave off the degradation that normally goes on inside somebody with arthritis. I often tell people, “Motion is lotion and he who rests rots.” So if you’re somebody who has a job that’s fairly sedentary, then there are a few things that you can do, and I’m going to tell you to go back and look at Dr. O’s blog, talking about sitting is the new smoking.

Number two, make your everyday activities become your exercise. So, we’ve all gone to the store before, and we’ve all driven and find a parking spot and then go into the store. Well, how about instead of trying to find that stall that’s as closest to the front door as possible, go park in the back and then walk. This little bit will give you more activity over the course of a day, and a week, and a month, and then eventually over the year.

The other thing is stairs. We often tend to fly up and fly down stairs. So instead, try to force yourself to go slowly and in control, and this will recruit your muscles of your legs so that you are causing them to work and be stressed in a good way to promote strength. The same thing goes when you do get in and out of a chair or off a couch. Try doing it without the use of your hands. This will force your leg muscles, your quads, your hamstrings, and your glutes to fire accordingly, hence causing some strengthening.

The other thing is, how about when you’re on the phone? Instead of sitting in your chair, stand up and walk around. It might look a little funny doing circles in your office, but at least the physical activity is going to increase. And lastly, if you’re at work and you’re at the cooler or at the coffee pot and you’re having a conversation, get your coffee, get your water, and then go do some laps around your building. You’ll find that if you do these little things, that over the course of, again, weeks, months, and years, your physical activity levels will improve.

And third is weight management. You want to make sure your weight is properly managed, and for every 10 pounds of excess weight that you carry in your body, that’s anywhere between 30 and 70 pounds of pressure to your hips, knees, ankles, and low back. It’s no wonder that being obese or being overweight or carrying excess weight is a cause for a lot of the problems in which we exist. Now, how you go about doing that, that’s entirely up to you or go seek the counsel of a nutritionist or registered dietician so they can help point you into the right direction.

So, there you are… three tips to help you with alleviating or decreasing stiffness and knee pain. If you want more answers to some of these common questions, please click the button below.

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Chris Ingstad, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT

Chris Ingstad, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT

Dr. Chris Ingstad is a nationally-known Physical Therapist and Co-Founder of North County San Diego’s Leading Specialist Private Physical Therapy and Human Performance Practice for People in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, who value their health and want to remain active.

You might know Dr. Chris as a National Conference presenter on various rehabilitation topics, including on treating people with shoulder, neck and low back injuries. He also teaches at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in the Musculoskeletal track, where he brings clinical practice into the classroom for future physical therapists. He also is published in Jiu Jitsu Magazine and Coastal Newspaper on various areas, including low back and neck and shoulder injuries.

Dr. Chris’ background included working extensively with athletes with shoulder, knee and low back injuries, taking them from post-injury or post-operative to return to sport. He prides himself on the ability to get positive outcomes, even with difficult cases. Level4 Physio-Wellness-Performance is now a large multi-physical therapy specialty practice in Carlsbad, CA. 
Chris Ingstad, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT

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