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Knee relief

Is there a new knee in your future? Or can the old one be salvaged?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, about 418,000 knee replacements are done each year. The fastest-growing segment of the population getting knee-replacement surgery are people 45-55. And the Centers for Disease Control says knee-replacement surgeries on seniors grew 90 percent between 1992 and 2004.

The main reason people get knee replacements is to relieve pain. For seniors, joint pain caused by osteoarthritis is their most common health complaint, according to researchers at San Diego State University. In addition to pain, symptoms of osteoarthritis include a knee that continually buckles, locks or becomes swollen.

Is there anything you can do short of the surgeon's knife to lessen the pain? Yes: Walk it off.

While some may think exercise makes their knee pain worse, the opposite appears to be true. The surgeons' group says regular low-impact exercise can improve joint flexibility and "delay or eliminate the need for surgery."

The academy recommends stretching, cycling or walking on a treadmill. And now that spring is here, consider a nice day on the links. Golf may be a high-frustration activity, but it is also a low-impact exercise.