Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery
Member of the San Francisco Multispecialty Medical Group,
Part of the IPM Medical Group family
Board Certified, Fellowship Trained in Sports Medicine

Save My Knees

Many times I have patients come to me with knee pain, and want advice on how to “save” them so they don’t wear out.  Their usual assumption is that minimizing the use of their joints will “save” them or extend their useful life.  While that is probably true of your car tires, it is not true of your cartilage.  While overloading a damaged joint may tend to cause an increase in wear, most people are not in that situation.  Cartilage (the part of your joint that wears down) is a matrix supported by a small number of cells.  That sparse population of cells is tasked with maintaining the bearing surface of the joint, and those cells need to be fed.  Nutrients those cells need exists in your joint fluid, and motion and physiologic loading helps to push those nutrients into the cells that need them.  Bottom line: you must move your joints to keep them healthy.  Minimizing activity or putting off exercise until you lose weight is generally counterproductive and may actually contribute to poorer cartilage health.  Individual situations obviously vary greatly, and so this is not specific advice for any individual.  If you have knee pain please, see your doctor.  There is a lot we can do to help.