Knees have surpassed hips as the number one joint that gets replaced—one study from the Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that 1 in 20 people over the age of 50 had undergone surgery.
It’s really not surprising. The complicated structure of joints and cartilage coupled with a lack of protection makes knees especially vulnerable to injury. Knee injuries in turn can lead to osteoarthritis (OA), a form of arthritis that affects your joints. In fact, half of all Boomers who suffer tears to knee ligaments and cartilage will develop OA in as few as five years, says Patience White, M.D., a rheumatologist and vice president of public health for theArthritis Foundation. Other conditions that make knees more prone to pain: bursitis, tendinitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and the inevitable wear and tear due to age.
While you can’t reverse the effects of knee damage or arthritis, you can slow them down. You may even stave off surgery forever, and save yourself thousands of dollars. The best time to do it is now—before the pain gets so bad you no longer can play with your grandkids.