Sports medicine doctor on how to combat knee arthritis symptoms

Osteoarthritis on the rise
Osteoarthritis on the rise 03:23

A new study found osteoarthritis of the knee is more than twice as common as it was just a few generations ago. It's estimated that the lifetime risk of developing this condition is 46 percent.

However, it is possible to protect your knees and even reverse some of the symptoms. Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss what might be causing the increase and what you can do to reduce arthritic symptoms.

Asked what people are doing wrong when it comes to arthritis, Metzl said, "They're not recognizing the symptoms of arthritis."

The first thing to do if you are having symptoms, Metzl said, is to get an X-ray, which will show if there is a "narrowing between the bones."

Metzl also credits the inactivity of modern life. "If you were alive 100 years ago, you walked more, you were much more active," Metzl said. 

"As this study shows us, the incidence of arthritis, the prevalence has more than doubled in the past hundred years and there are some different reasons for why that may be including people living longer and having higher weights but also related to activity," Metzl said.

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X-rays of what a healthy knee versus an arthritic knee looks like.  CBS News

To reduce symptoms, he says the best thing to do is strengthen your muscles with exercises like squats and lunges instead of saying off of the knee and, in effect, becoming more inactive.

"We want them to be very active. When they get arthritis I get them started on exercise, strengthening," Metzl said.  

While he says the wrong shoes can play a part in making symptoms worse, they don't necessarily cause arthritis.

"I think the shoes may be part of making the symptoms worse. I don't think it really has a lot to do with the reasons people get arthritis which are probably genetic, longevity, body index and then maybe inactivity but once you have arthritis we do a lot to control your symptoms," Metzl said.