Please help! I'm a 63-year-old veteran and retired data manager, and for several years now I've suffered from pretty serious knee pain caused by arthritis. I consider myself a fairly tough person, but lately the pain has become more than I can bear. I still eat right, stay in shape, exercise and take yoga classes. Is there anything I can do, short of taking meds, to relieve my knee aches? Is more yoga an option or not?
-Whit S., Chicago, IL
Well, the good news is, you're not alone. The better news is, yes, you can use yoga-based stretching, deep breathing and Ki energy techniques to reduce your knee pain.
Chronic knee pain is a widespread problem, Whit, so it may help to know that you're not alone. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed thousands of Americans about chronic pain. Ultimately, one in four adults reported suffering from bouts of aches that lasted at least one day.
The most common complaint? Knee pain, the agency said.
This isn't too surprising when you consider that, by the CDC's count, 50 million adults have some kind of arthritis – 8 million of whom have knee osteoarthritis, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes.
Fortunately, you're taking Illinois yoga classes, which is a great start. Unlike running or biking, yoga is great for your knees, since it doesn't subject them to too much downward force. Furthermore, the relaxation- and Ki energy-techniques you learn there can help you channel vital life force to your leg joints, where it's obviously needed.
The CDC points to several studies showing that yoga-based fitness exercises may help in other ways, too. One states that losing as few as 11 pounds may relieve pressure placed on your arthritic knee joint.
Another adds that adults your age who get moderate exercise at least three times a week cut their risk of knee osteoarthritis-related disability in half.