IN THE NEWS

One in four adults suffer from chronic knee pain, according to The Washington Post.

With the number of sore and stiff knees on the rise (65% in the past four decades), more Americans are undergoing knee replacement surgeries than ever. Unfortunately, this is a costly option. The procedure costs about $15,000, and requires general anesthesia, four days of hospitalization and months of physical therapy. Even with therapy, a patient’s range of motion will likely never be fully restored. For these reasons, experts advise nonsurgical alternatives to reduce pain, while preserving range of motion.

Those suffering from early osteoarthritis will benefit most from more physical activity and weight loss. Experts recommend strengthening leg, hip and core muscles, and engaging in low-impact aerobic exercise. According to the AAOS, every pound a patient loses reduces pressure on the knees by four to six pounds.

Osteoarthritis is caused when cartilage, the cushioning between joints, becomes worn. Because cartilage does not have its own blood supply, the only way cartilage cells regenerate is through nourishment by being exposed to joint fluid.

“Cartilage has no direct blood supply, so its ability to use energy to repair itself is very, very slow,” said physical therapist Doug Kelsey. “Consequently, it takes a lot of time, a lot of [knee exercise] repetitions and persistence.”

With a prescribed exercises and movements, patients bathe the cartilage cells in joint fluid, allowing them to recover without causing more joint damage.

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STUDY SAYS

Weather’s effect on pain

The weather may affect pain, according to a recent study published in npj Digital Medicine.

While many patients suffering from chronic pain believe their pain is related to the weather, scientific evidence has failed to support such claims. This is because collecting a large dataset containing pain symptoms and weather conditions has been difficult. Smartphones allowed researchers to collect this data more easily.

Over 15 months, data was collected from 2658 patients and showed relationships between weather conditions (temperature, humidity, wind speed) and pain. These relationships remained after accounting for patient mood and physical activity.

The study demonstrates how data can be collected on large populations to answer health questions.

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HEALTHY LIVING

Foods to boost your immune system

Nutrition plays a large role in boosting your immune system. The Los Angeles Daily News has compiled a list of five foods currently in season to keep you healthy this cold and flu season.

1. Pistachios contain protein necessary for your immune system cells and antibodies to fight disease and infection;

2. Pomegranates contain polyphenols, which are full of antioxidants;

3. Winter squash provides beta carotene, a pigment in red and orange vegetables that is converted to vitamin A in the body, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties;

4. Brussels sprouts are a good and unexpected source of vitamin C, which repairs tissue all over the body; and

5. Culinary herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme, contain anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and immune-boosting properties.

Eating properly can do wonders for your immune system, however, it is important to get a flu shot and wash your hands regularly.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

17 million: About 17 million Americans have clogged arteries that crimp the heart’s blood supply, which can cause periodic chest pain.

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