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5 Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Your Smartphone

5 Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Your Smartphone
We rely on our smartphone more than ever. We use it to communicate and socialize through texting and social media, to navigate our world, take high resolution photos, play an endless array of games and peruse the internet. Is it possible to become addicted to our smartphones?

According to Deloitte’s 2016 global mobile consumer survey,  the average American checks their phone 42 times a day. If the user is between 18-24-years-old, that number goes up to 82 times a day. Can so much usage create an actual dependency? Many experts say yes.

Here are five behavioral symptoms that you may have a dependency problem:
  • Preoccupation. You find yourself checking your phone while doing mundane tasks or if there are a few moments of waiting for something such as the microwave or in line at a store.
  • Unable to quit. You cannot put the phone down for extended periods of time. You feel compelled to check your phone during things such as movies or meals.
  • Withdrawal. You experience withdrawal when you cannot use your phone. You are frustrated if there is no service or your phone is not readily accessible.
  • Shame. You feel the need to hide your phone use. You turn your back on others when using your phone or walk off to be alone while checking it.
  • Loss of control. You go to your phone at the first sign of boredom or depression. You are looking to your phone to provide the same relief that people seek in overeating, drinking or drugs.

Take note of how often you are on the phone. Write it down and track your phone usage. If you find that you and your family are spending too much time on your devices and not enough time engaging with each other and the world, try implementing any or all of the following steps:

  1. Create “no phone zones” In your house or your car so that you can converse face to face with your friends and family.
  2. Keep phones away from the dining table at mealtimes and set them on silent.
  3. Keep your phone out of the bedroom at night. Use a regular alarm clock instead of your phone to wake you up.
  4. Turn off all notifications. These notifications can provide an addictive rush. The brain likes a steady stream of dopamine and these notifications can cause an unhealthy spiral of spikes and plunges.
  5. Create a digital sabbath where you do not use your phone for an entire day.
  6. Sign out of each app after you use it. Signing back in will help you realize that you have absentmindedly begun using your phone.
  7. Don’t take your phone into the bathroom. Do your business and get back to living life.
  8. Leave your phone at home when going on a walk or to the gym.
  9. Stop using your phone at least an hour before bedtime. If you have trouble falling asleep, read a book, magazine or do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle.
  10. Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning. Give yourself time to wake up. Wait until you get to work to check your email.
  11. Stop checking your phone any moment you find yourself alone. Use this time to think or absorb the environment you are in.
  12. Never use your phone while driving. Put your phone in the trunk so you won’t be tempted.

About the Author

Deborah Opalski, DO practices family medicine with Primary Care at Forest Oaks

It is Officially Hurricane Season: 5 Tips to Get You Prepared

5 Tips to Get You Prepared for a Hurricane
The 2017 hurricane season began June 1 and runs through November 30. One important aspect of wellness is preparation. What would you do if a hurricane or severe weather conditions struck near you? It’s important to have a plan. And it’s important to think about what you would need to carry out that plan, including a basic emergency supply kit.

Some items to consider for your emergency kit:
  • Water (one gallon per person per day) and nonperishable food – enough to support each family member for up to three days (including pets)
  • Battery-operated (or hand-crank) radio and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Maps
  • Cash (bills and change)
  • Simple tool kit including wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Comfortable clothing for each family member and at least one change of clothes
  • Waterproof jackets/outerwear for each family member
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags for each family member
  • Unique family needs like prescription medications, eye glasses, pet supplies and infant supplies

Having a plan of action laid out ahead of time can help you fulfill your responsibilities when inclement weather hits. Please consider the broad array of circumstances that could arise whenever weather is unpredictable. Take this opportunity to:
  1. Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
  2. Plan ahead for backup child care.
  3. If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  4. Make alternative transportation arrangements, such as borrowing a vehicle or hitching a ride to work.
  5. Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications.To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”

Knowing you are prepared can also help reduce the stress and anxiety that often come with inclement weather.

About the Author

Ben Wooten, MPA, CEM is an emergency preparedness specialist with Cone Health Emergency Management.

5 Ways Flip-Flops Are Wrecking Your Feet

5 Ways Flip-Flops Are Wrecking Your Feet
It’s no secret that flip-flops are bad for your feet. They’re flimsy and offer little to no support for your feet and ankles. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dangers flip-flops pose to your feet and overall wellbeing.

The podiatrists at Triad Foot Center reveal the five ways flip-flops can wreck your feet:
  1. Bacteria Haven: Believe it or not, your flip-flops are teeming with bacteria. In fact, the material used to make flip-flops is a haven for nasty bacteria, including Staphylococcus bacteria, which causes Staph infections. If your bacteria laden flip flops cause an open wound, like a blister, it can allow that bacteria into your system and make you sick.
  2. Fungus Among Us: Flip-flops aren’t just a haven for bacteria, fungus loves them too. Using flip-flops (and not cleaning them after each use) in gym showers or communal areas where conditions are moist & warm can open you up to toenail or skin fungal infections.
  3. Blisters: The most commonly sustained injury from flip-flops are blisters. Since flip-flops are not securely fastened, friction caused by the movement of the flip-flops against your feet can cause blisters.
  4. Posture: Flip-flops can do a number on your posture. Your feet are the foundation of your body and when you wear unstable footwear, it throws off your posture. Poor posture can cause your body to be misaligned which can result in pain and other issues.
  5. Support: Flip-flops are notorious for having a lack of adequate support, which can result in heel pain and fallen arches. The ligament that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot, called the plantar fascia, can stretch or tear from a lack of support, causing the painful condition known as plantar fasciitis. In addition, if there is nothing supporting your arch, over time it can fall and cause flat feet and foot pain.
While flip-flops aren’t the healthiest choice for your feet, there are other cute summer footwear options. Instead of flip-flops, try sandals with more than one strap. The straps will provide stability for your foot and ankle and reduce friction caused by the footwear sliding around.

13 Reasons Why: Suicide Warning Signs in Teens

Suicide Warning Signs in Teens
The new Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why” is the fictional story of a teen who commits suicide, leaving behind 13 cassette tapes. Each tape is an audio recording of herself talking to a specific person who played a role in her decision to take her own life.

This show is very popular and has received mixed reviews from mental health experts, some of whom are fearful that it could be a catalyst for teens to act on suicidal thoughts they may already be having. Other criticisms are that it romanticizes suicide and downplays the character’s mental health condition, which is really the underlying cause of suicide. In addition, because the character reappears in every episode, individuals watching may not appreciate the finality of suicide.

And yet, “13 Reasons Why” can also open the door for talking with teenagers about suicide risk and offers an opportunity to educate young people on how to identify depression or suicidal warning signs in themselves and their peers. Here are 13 warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide:
  1. Comments about suicide, such as “I wish I weren’t here” or “The world would be better off without me.” 
  2. Increased substance abuse. 
  3. Changes in diet. 
  4. Taking dangerous risks such as running red lights. 
  5. Sleeping too little or too much. 
  6. Increasingly aggressive behavior. 
  7. Socially withdrawing from friends and family. 
  8. Extreme mood swings. 
  9. A fascination with death. 
  10. Impulsive and reckless behavior. 
  11. Talking about being a burden to others. 
  12. Talking about seeking revenge. 
  13. Talking about feeling hopeless. 

Other behaviors that suggest an individual is moving from suicidal thoughts to action include:
  • Giving away possessions. 
  • Outwardly expressing affection, emotion and saying goodbye to friends and family. 
  • A mood that suddenly shifts from despair to one of contentment. 
  • Seeking to obtain a device that could be used for committing suicide, such as a weapon or prescription drugs. 

Research shows that 90 percent of suicide victims experience mental illness. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds. Suicidal behaviors and thoughts are considered a psychiatric emergency, due to their dangerous nature. Anyone experiencing these thoughts should seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health provider.

Get immediate assistance for mental health issues by calling Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital’s 24-hour HelpLine at 336-832-9700 or 800-711-6235. Or walk into the Behavioral Health Hospital for a prompt in-person emergency assessment.

About the Author

Dr. Martha Perry, Cone Health Center for Children

Martha Perry, MD, is an Adolescent Medicine Specialist and serves as the Medical Director of The Tim and Carolynn Rice Center for Child and Adolescent Health. She is one of three board-certified adolescent medicine specialists in North Carolina.

Healthy Recipes for Summertime Grilling

When the weather warms up and the days get long, many folks turn to the grill to prepare meals. Grilling is a great American pastime. It brings people together in celebration, so why not celebrate with some healthier and more creative options that you, your family and your friends will enjoy?

PB&J Sliders

Mini beef and mushroom burgers topped with roma tomato and roasted grape and jalapeno jam on pretzel rolls. Served with watercress fennel salad.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 Portions

8 slices plum tomato, sliced ¼ inch
8 small pretzel rolls (about 1 ½ ounces per roll)

Roasted Grape and Jalapeno Jam
Prepare a day or two ahead
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeds removed
1/3 cup red seedless grapes (about 10-12 grapes)
1 wholehole garlic, peeled
2½ teaspoons shallots, sliced
Pinch Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon canola olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (not from concentrate)
1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon honey

Orange Chipotle Vinaigrette
Can be prepared a day or two ahead
1½ teaspoons orange marmalade
½ teaspoon chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced fine
¼ teaspoon clove fresh garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon shallots, chopped
1½ tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (not from concentrate)
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
Pinch black pepper
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Beef and Portobello Burger
Can be prepared a day ahead
7 ounces lean ground beef
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped fine (about 1½ cups)
1 teaspoon whole garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Watercress and Fennel Salad
3 cups watercress (packed)
6 tablespoons fresh fennel, shaved
4 tablespoons red onions, sliced thin
4 tablespoons Granny Smith apples, julienne
4 tablespoons red delicious apples, julienne
3 tablespoons orange chipotle vinaigrette (recipe above)


  1. Roasted Grape and Tomato Jam: In a small bowl combine jalapeno pepper halves, grapes, shallots, garlic clove, salt and oil. Toss to coat well. Place mixture, in single layer, onto a cookie sheet. Roast at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven. 
  2. In a sauce pot combine roasted vegetable mixture, orange juice, vinegar and honey. Simmer for 5 minutes. 
  3. Place mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. 
  4. Refrigerate jam overnight to allow flavors to blend and mixture to thicken. 
  5. Orange Chipotle Vinaigrette: In a bowl or blender combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil. Blend well. Slowly whisk or stream in oil and mix well. 
  6. Watercress and Fennel Salad: In a large bowl combine watercress, fennel, red onions and both apples. At service time add chipotle orange vinaigrette and toss well to coat. Serve 1 cup per person. 
  7. Slider Assembly and Service: In a preheat non-stick skillet or well-oiled grill place slider patties. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. 
  8. Lightly toast pretzel rolls. 
  9. For each slider, spread 1 teaspoon roasted grape and jalapeno jam on heel of roll. Top with 1 cooked slider patty and 1 slice plum tomato. 
  10. Spread another 1 teaspoon jam on crown of roll and place on sandwich to close. 
  11. Serve 2 sliders and 1 cup watercress and fennel salad per person. 

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 102
Carbs 1g
protein 16g
fat 3g
sat. fat 50g
Cholesterol 0mg
sodium 219mg
fiber 0g

Baja Fish & Quinoa Tacos 

Broiled Mahi Mahi with a quinoa and cabbage slaw served in a toasted corn tortilla topped with pickled onions 

Yield: 8 tacos
Serving: 4

3/4 pounds Mahi Mahi fillets, cut into strips, about 3” long x ½” thick
3/4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 6-inch corn tortillas
1/4 avocado, sliced thinly

Quinoa Cabbage Slaw
1 tablespoon low-calorie mayonnaise
1 tablespoon low-calorie sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup cabbage, shredded

Pickled Red Onions
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup red onions, julienned
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Oregano
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Habanero peppers, minced

  1. Brush fish strips with olive oil and then dip into Old Bay Seasoning, turning to coat. Refrigerate for about an hour to allow flavors to penetrate the fish. Place on a baking sheet. 
  2. Meanwhile make the Quinoa Cabbage Slaw by combining the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, chipotle peppers and cilantro in a medium-sized bowl and mix. Add the cooked quinoa and cabbage and mix well. Place in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve. 
  3. To make the Pickled Red Onions, combine the lime juice, onions, salt, oregano, vinegar and peppers in a small bowl and allow to marinate for at least a half hour before serving. 
  4. Preheat the broiler, and heat the baking sheet of fish strips for about 3 minutes, flip and heat for another 3 minutes until cooked through. 
  5. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and gently heat the tortillas on one side for about 3 minutes and flip over and toast for another two minutes, until pliable. Wrap each tortilla in aluminum foil to hold the heat and continue to skillet toast the remaining tortillas. 
  6. To assemble each, place a slice of fish on the tortilla and top with some quinoa slaw and pickled onions. Top with a slice of avocado. 
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 327
Carbs 36g
protein 29g
fat 8g
sat. fat 4g
Cholesterol 90mg
sodium 295mg
fiber 5g

Greek Black Bean Burger

A zucchini and black bean burger topped with lettuce, tomato and feta 

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 6 min
Yield: 4 Sandwiches

1/2 cup lemon herb ricotta spread
4 zucchini and black bean patties
4 100% whole wheat (4 inch) hamburger buns
4 leaves green leaf lettuce
8 slices tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch
1/4 cup feta cheese

Lemon Herb Ricotta Spread
1 teaspoon roasted garlic, minced
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt seasoning
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind

Zucchini and Black Bean Patties
1 cup canned seasoned black beans
1/2 cup zucchini, shredded
1/4 cup flax seed
1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

  1. Lemon Herb Ricotta Spread: In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until well blended. 
  2. Zucchini and Black Bean Patties: In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mash with a fork. Allow to sit to allow flax seed to form a gel. Spray griddle with vegetable oil. Preheat to medium high heat. Portion burger mixture into 4 equal balls. Place on griddle, using a spatula, press mixture firmly to make 3 inch diameter patties, about 1/2 inch thick. Cook for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. 
  3. For Service: Spread 1 tablespoon ricotta spread on heal of bun and 1 tablespoon ricotta spread on crown of bun. Place 1 black bean patty on heal of bun. Top with 1 lettuce leaf and 2 slices tomato. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon feta cheese. Close sandwich with crown of bun. 
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 360
Carbs 45g
protein 21g
fat 13g
sat. fat 3g
Cholesterol 14mg
sodium 690mg
fiber 12g

Chicken Bruschetta Sandwich 

An Italian twist on a grilled chicken sandwich with the flavors of a traditional tomato, basil and garlic bruschetta topping.

Serving: 4 Servings

4 4-ounce chicken breasts
1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Canola oil
½ teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
4 multi-grain sandwich flats
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Garlic Dijon Mustard
3 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon Canola oil
2 tablespoons low-calorie mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Bruschetta Topping
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic, minced
½ cup plum tomatoes, diced
¼ cup basil, chopped
½ teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. In a large Ziploc bag, place the chicken breasts together with the Balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, Canola oil, oregano and thyme and seal. Shake the bag to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Place in the refrigerator for one to two hours to allow for chicken to marinate. Set aside. 
  2. Garlic Dijon Mustard: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the garlic cloves in the Canola oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let it cool to handle and chop. Toss the roasted garlic with the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard and set aside. 
  3. Bruschetta Topping: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Set aside. 
  4. Remove the chicken breasts from the Ziploc bag and place on a preheated grill and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on one side and then flip over to the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Cool quickly. Slice each breast into ½-inch slices. 
  5. To assemble the sandwich, spread some of the garlic Dijon mustard on a sandwich flatbread, then place the sliced chicken breast on the bread and top with some of the bruschetta topping. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Close the sandwich and slice in two. 
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 297
Carbs 2g
protein 28g
fat 10g
sat. fat 1g
Cholesterol 57 mg
sodium 368 mg
fiber 6g

Grilled Tilapia with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

Grilled garlic and herb tilapia with maple mashed sweet potato and fresh spinach with onions 

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min

1 pound mashed sweet potatoes with maple
1 1/2 cups sautéed spinach and onions
4 fillets grilled garlic and herb tilapia

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced 1/2 inch
2 tablespoons fat free milk
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple flavor pancake syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sauteed Spinach and Onions
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onions, julienne
6 cups fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Grilled Garlic and Herb Tilapia
4 fillets tilapia (3 to 5 ounce each)
1 teaspoon salt free garlic and herb seasoning

  1. Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple: Place potatoes in boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Remove potatoes from heat, and drain in colander. Place potatoes in mixer bowl with paddle attachment. Mix slowly to break up potatoes. Add milk, salt, syrup and vanilla. Mix to combine until smooth. 
  2. Sautéed Spinach and Onions: In a sauté pan, heat over medium high heat. Add onions. Saute until caramelized. Add spinach. Season with pepper. Mix well and remove from heat. Stir until spinach just wilts. 
  3. Grilled Garlic and Herb Tilapia: Evenly sprinkle each fillet with 1/4 teaspoon seasoning. Place on preheated 350 degree griddle. Cook for 4 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 minutes more. 
  4. For Service: Place 1/4 cup potatoes and 1/3 cup spinach next to each other in center of plate. Top with 1 grilled fillet overlapping onto both vegetables. 
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 300
Carbs 30g
protein 26g
fat 5g
sat. fat 1g
Cholesterol 53mg
sodium 240mg
fiber 5g

Don't Forget the Beverages!

Mix each combination below in a pitcher with six to eight cups of water. (Remember to rinse all of the ingredients before adding them to the pitcher.) You’ll also need a long wooden spoon to gently mash some of the ingredients. The finished refreshers can be served immediately, but for more flavor let them sit for a few hours (or longer) to infuse. Cheers!

  • Cherry-Limeade: Add 1 pint pitted cherries to a pitcher. Gently mash the cherries; stir in 2 sliced limes and water.
  • Raspberry-Basil: Add 1 pint raspberries along with 10 basil leaves to a pitcher. Mash the ingredients together and add water.
  • Berry-Vanilla: Mix together 1/2 cup each blueberries, blackberries, and chopped strawberries in a pitcher. Mash the berries and stir in the water. Split 1 vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a small knife; add the seeds and pod to the pitcher. (Remove the pod before serving.) If you don’t have a vanilla bean, stir in a small drop of vanilla extract for a similar taste.
  • Pineapple-Ginger: Add 2 cups chopped pineapple, a thinly sliced 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, and water to a pitcher. (Remove the ginger prior to serving.)
  • Watermelon With Chile-Salt: Add 2 cups chopped seedless watermelon to a pitcher; crush the fruit and add water. To serve, mix equal parts chile powder and sea salt on a plate; wet the rim of  a glass with water and turn the rim in the chile-salt combo. Add the watermelon water to the glass and serve.
  • Apple-Cinnamon: Add 3 cinnamon sticks, 2 chopped apples, and water to a pitcher. (Remove and discard cinnamon sticks before serving.)
  • Blueberry-Lavender: Add 1 pint blueberries to a pitcher, along with 2 teaspoons culinary lavender buds (find them online or at specialty grocery stores). Mash the berries and lavender and stir to combine.
  • Cucumber-Mint: Add 12 mint leaves to a pitcher and mash. Stir in 1 thinly sliced English cucumber and water.
  • Grapefruit-Peach With Rosemary: Add 2 chopped peaches to a pitcher and gently mash. Next, add 1 thinly sliced ruby red grapefruit, 1 small rosemary stalk, and water. (Remove rosemary before serving).

Thanks to our partners at Sodexo for making mindful eating so delicious!

Why Do My Knees Pop?

Have you ever bent down to pick up something and heard a loud pop or crack coming from your knees? This sound is called “crepitus,” which is defined as “joint noise.” Popping knees are not unusual. It happens when carbon dioxide builds up in the joint’s synovial fluid and is released as a gas bubble that bursts when the joint adjusts rapidly. It is the same process that causes knuckles to crack.

Most of the time, this noise should cause no concern. There has been a rumor circulating for years that popping joints are a sign of impending arthritis, but there has been no research that supports this.

Some folks may hear a grinding noise in the knee when they squat. This is another form of crepitus and is typically nothing to be concerned about. The sound is caused by the cartilage rubbing on the joint surface and other soft tissue when the knee moves.

Most people experience crepitus their entire lives with no problems.

What if it hurts when my joints pop or grind?

You should be concerned if you have joint noise that is accompanied by pain, discomfort or swelling. This could be a sign that medical attention is required. Two of the most common cause for knee pain are:
  1. Cartilage injury or wear. The underside of your kneecap can unevenly rub on the front of your femur (thigh bone) and cause the cartilage under your kneecap to soften and wear off. Once the cartilage wears off, it hangs around the joint and can irritate the surrounding area. This irritation can result in pain when squatting, climbing stairs or even sitting for an extended period.
  2. Meniscus tear. The rubbery disc that cushions your knee and absorbs shock is called the meniscus. It can tear when there is an unexpected twist or turn in the joint, usually when the knee moves and the foot stays stationary. With aging comes greater risk of a meniscus tear, even through everyday activities.

What are the treatment options for knee injuries?
  • Rest – Stay off your knee as much as possible.
  • R.I.C.E. – Rest, ice, compression and elevation will promote healing and reduce swelling.
  • Knee Brace – There are many kinds, so it is best to consult your care provider for advice.
  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist can help you learn techniques and exercises to strengthen your knee and allow it time to heal.
  • Surgery – Minimally invasive surgery, especially for meniscus tears, can repair the tear and clear out any tissue causing pain, swelling and irritation.  

  • To help protect the knees, try exercises that develop the quadriceps, which are the muscles in the front of the thigh. Exercises that benefit this muscle group are walking, cycling and swimming. Other effective ways of protecting the knees are wearing supportive shoes, warming up before and stretching after exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

    About the Author

    Chris Blackman, MD is an orthopedic surgeon with Piedmont Orthopedics.