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Can Ice Help Knee Pain

Youre Passing On Fruits And Vegetables Which Can Help You Lose Weight

Ice vs. Heat for Knee Pain | Knee Exercises

People who eat more fruit, as well as those who are active and generally in good health, tend to have lower levels of osteoarthritis pain, according to the results of a survey of 197 adults published in September 2015 in the journal Pain Research & Management. Plus, eating healthier and being active can help reduce weight, which can also help reduce stress on the knee joint. In general, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, and avoid processed foods if you need to lose weight, says Dr. Johnson.

How Does Ice Work

First, we need to understand how each of these treatments work. Lets begin with ice.

Ice has long been thought of as natures pain killer. It has powerful effects on the human body when applied to the skin, some of which we have only recently begun to understand.

Ice has been used for many years as a form of pain relief, and there are accounts of ice being used to treat injuries in the earliest days of mankind.

Ice works through a couple of mechanisms:

  • Ice, when applied to the skin, produces an effect called vasoconstriction in the blood vessels which basically means the small vessels narrow and shut down blood flow to that area. Thats one of the reasons ice is so useful for swelling, such as after an ankle sprain.
  • Ice also has an effect on the nerves around the area,;dampening;their signals which means we feel naturally;less pain;with an injury.
  • Ice also encourages a flushing out of the potentially harmful chemicals around an injury site and reduces inflammation.

How Often Should I Use Ice Or Heat For Joint Pain

As long as youre being smart about which therapy you use and careful about how to use it, Dr. Torres-Panchame says they are okay to use repetitively throughout the day.

It doesnt need to be a formal sit-on-the-couch-with-your-leg-up type of treatment. You may find youre already benefitting from thermal therapy without even realizing it. If taking a hot shower or bath every morning is very soothing to your joints, then youre already reaping the benefits of heat therapy.

Other patients say that washing their hands with hotter-than-usual water is a quick way to sooth their hands throughout the day. Some people report that they actually like washing dishes after meals because its an easy way to use heat therapy.

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When Should I Seek Medical Attention

While ice and heat therapy are a good way to give yourself some regular low-effort pain relief and can be a regular and important part of your self-care toolkit its a good idea to call your doctor if you experience new or worsening joint pain.

This includes situations in which ice or heat previously worked well enough to relive your symptoms but doesnt anymore, Dr. Bose says. If youre not getting relief, it should trigger a warning bell, she says. Maybe theres something deeper inside, or this might need more systemic treatment rather than topical.

These symptoms might mean your medications and other therapies arent working as well as theyre supposed to. It could indicate that your arthritis is progressing, Dr. Bose says. Either way, its better to know.

What Are Heat And Ice Therapy

Knee Pain

Simply put, heat therapy and ice therapy also known as thermal therapy mean applying something hot or cold to an affected area, which can affect how your body responds to pain, stiffness, and other arthritis symptoms.

Many arthritis patients swear by both heat and ice as part of their treatment plan whether for osteoarthritis, which is wear and tear to a joint that occurs when the cartilage breaks down, or inflammatory types of arthritis, which is when inflammatory chemicals from an overactive immune attack the joint.

For Eddie A., who has psoriatic arthritis, warm baths are a go-to part of his self-care routine. In fact, before he was diagnosed with PsA, he would find himself needing to sit in the tub for 30 to 45 minutes each morning before work just to loosen up my hands, he recalls.

Heat and ice are everything for me, Deanna K., who also has psoriatic arthritis, told CreakyJoints.

In its latest treatment guidelines for the management of osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology conditionally recommends thermal interventions for osteoarthritis in the knee, hip, or hand, for example. In other words, theres likely little harm in trying it, but its not a magic bullet.

Even though heat and cold are opposites, they can both reduce inflammation and ease pain and stiffness around the joints. They do so in different ways and may have different uses. That said, there is little scientific research on when to use one form over another.

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Use A Cold Compress Or Ice Pack:

  • 24 to 72 hours after your initial knee injury or when you first notice pain and swelling to stop tissue damage, relieve pain, and .
  • After exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to prevent re-injury.
  • Before and after surgery during rehabilitation to control pre and post-surgery pain and swelling.
  • Anytime you feel your knee is tender, painful or you’re having a flare-up of an older knee injury.
  • Anytime you have swelling, sharp throbbing pain or inflammation in your knee.
  • Any other situation where you need to draw the pain and inflammation out of your knee.

How You Should Heal A Knee Injury

If you do find yourself with a hurt knee, heres what you should do:

  • Look for signs of severe injury. If theres swelling;or you cant walk on the leg, see a sports medicine or orthopedic doctor for treatment.
  • Practice RICE. Rest, ice, compression,;and elevation are usually recommended to help promote healing and flexibility in a knee injury.
  • Take an OTC pain reliever. A low-dose anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help treat pain and swelling in a patient that has no allergy or contraindication to its use, Bayes says. Schulz says he commonly tells patients to take vitamin D to help promote healing. Ask your doctor if OTC meds and supplements are right for you.
  • Consider physical therapy. A professional PT can help you get on the mend using stretches, exercises, and other methods.

What if youve tried and tried but still feel like your knee injury isnt healing?

Injuries that fail to recover with rest, ice, compression, and elevation and time may be more serious, Schulz says. Seek a medical evaluation if an injury persists.

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What Causes Knee Tendonitis

Jumpers knee is an overuse injury and the result of repetitive micro-trauma to patellar tendon. Usually such micro-trauma is caused by activities that include a lot of jumping, running and cutting.

Sports such as basketball, volleyball and tennis have a high incidence rate of this injury, but it is not limited to these groups.

A common theme among people who suffer from knee tendonitis is playing through pain or regular overexertion on the court. Heres what happens if it is left untreated:

Initially, tendonitis will just be a minor pain in the tendon below the kneecap, but with repeated overuse tissue damage cellular degradation will set in.

If the overuse continues the body will be unable to repair the damaged tissue and tendonitis turns into tendinosis: a painful chronic condition that will take months, sometimes years to heal.

Ignore tendonitis and your pain will get worse and your condition will get more chronic. Act early and you could be back to sports in a few weeks.

How To Use Ice Treatment Effectively

When to use heat or cold for knee pain?

Ice treatment works most effectively when used immediately after an;injury;or;surgery;, but can also help reduce pain and inflammation in longer term;knee problems.

The simplest way to apply cryotherapy treatment is to wrap some ice in a damp cloth e.g. tea towel. Place a dry cloth on the affected area and then apply the ice for;10-15 minutes.

Do not leave the ice on any longer as it can cause an ice burn. It can also slow blood flow so much that the good nutrients needed for healing cant get in and the bad chemicals produced from the injury cant get taken away.

Also, if the body gets too cold it responds by causing the blood vessels to dilate allowing more blood to rush into the area which actually increases swelling. This is known as the Hunting effect.

Remove the ice for at least 2 hours before reapplying to allow the area to return to its normal temperature. Use cryotherapy treatment frequently to maximise the effectiveness.

This two minute video from ToHealth talks about how and when to use cryotherapy treatment safely following an injury to aid healing.

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How Heat Can Help Relieve Pain

We know that when it comes to temperature and how each makes our skin feel, heat and ice couldn’t be more opposite one warms you up, the other cools you down. And this difference extends to what’s happening under your skin, too.

“Applying heat causes your blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow,” explains Dr. Brooks. “This brings more biological products, such as oxygen and nutrients, to the injured area, which can help relieve the source of your pain over time.”

As a result, heat has a number of potential and perceived benefits, such as:

  • Reducing pain
  • Alleviating muscle cramps and spasms

“Similar to ice, heat should only be applied for a limited amount of time. If you’re applying heat via a heating pad, the appropriate amount of time is between 20 and 30 minutes,” recommends Dr. Brooks.

Q: Which Will Work Better For My Painful Arthritic Joints Heat Or Cold

A: Applying heat or cold to a painful area is a simple, inexpensive method for relieving pain. Cold reduces swelling and numbs the area. Heat loosens up muscles, increases flexibility and increases circulation. For an acute injury, such as a pulled muscle or injured tendon, the usual recommendation is to start by applying ice to reduce inflammation and dull pain. Once inflammation has gone down, heat can be used to ease stiffness.

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For a chronic pain condition, such as osteoarthritis, heat seems to work best. However, some people find that cold also helps to dull the pain.

So whats the answer? Try them both and use whichever works best for you.

Exercise is an important part of treatment for osteoarthritis. Heat and cold can also be used to make exercising a little easier. Try using heat before exercise to loosen up muscles and cold afterwards to minimize any achiness.

For heat, soak in a warm bath, hot tub or whirlpool for about 20 minutes. Or take a warm shower. Dress warmly afterwards to prolong the benefit. A heating pad is another good way to warm up an area. You can also buy moist heat pads. Or, heat a damp washcloth in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Test it to make sure its not too hot. Wrap it in a dry towel and apply it to the painful area.

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A Summary Of How Ice & Heat Affect Your Blood Flow

Imagine you’re standing in your living room at home. When the air in that room is at normal room temperature , your body is in a comfortable state. Your heart rate and blood pressure are normal .

Imagine the air has cooled down to freezing…

When the room becomes cooler your heart rate begins to slow down and your blood pressure increases. Your body does this automatically to retain heat in your body. At this time your soft tissue will also start to squeeze on and contract all of the veins in your body carrying blood flow. This also helps to decrease the amount of blood flowing throughout your circulatory system and retains the heat.

When cold is applied to a knee injury, all of your soft tissue will squeeze on the veins to slow down your blood flow. This in turn clamps down on the amount of fluid leaking into your injured tissue, decreasing your swelling. This is why cold is used immediately to treat newer knee injuries or re-injuries. The cold slows down your body to stop the amount of damage happening to your tissue and decrease your swelling. This cold also has a nice side benefit of numbing the nerves in and around your knee injury thereby decreasing your pain.

In the medical world this is something called ‘Vasoconstriction’.

Now, imagine the air has warmed up enough that you start sweating…

When the room becomes warmer your heart rate speeds up and your blood pressure decreases. Your body is trying to increase your blood flow to cool down your body.

How Does It Work

5 Things You Can Do To Reduce Knee Pain

So how does Ice Treatment work? With an injury, swelling accumulates in the affected area which causes two problems.;

Firstly, there are chemicals in the fluid that aggravate and irritate the nerves fibres causing pain. Secondly, the pressure from the swelling causes pain and limits the amount of movement that the joint can perform e.g. how much you can bend and straighten the knee.

Ice treatment can help in two ways.; Firstly, the cold from the ice has an analgesic effect which reduces pain.; Secondly, it helps to reduce the amount of bleeding into the joint and soft tissues thus reducing swelling and any associated muscle spasms.

Cryotherapy treatment is therefore an important and effective treatment for soft tissue injuries such as a knee sprain or muscle tear.

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Some Facts About Knees:

Approximately 19.4 million visits to physicians’ offices in the US per year are due to knee problems.

The knee is a complex joint with many components, making it vulnerable to a variety of injuries.

Oral medications can mask the pain but do not aid in the healing of knee injuries.

Most knee injuries can be successfully treated without surgery.

Sadly, regardless of treatment, ACL injuries in high-school youths are associated with a 10-fold increased risk for degenerative knee arthritis later in life.

MendmyKnee is an FDA registered company.

Every year, at least 1 in 3000 Americans between ages 14 and 55 tear an anterior cruciate ligament .

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So Do You Use Heat Or Ice For Knee Pain

The answer to this question depends on the main problem you have, as well as the location of the pain around your knee.

The first question to ask yourself is this:;Is my main problem PAIN or STIFFNESS?

The second question is:;Is my main problem area my MUSCLES or my JOINT?

Lets talk about each scenario one by one

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Mistakes Runners Make That Can Cause Knee Injuries

For runners, avoiding knee injury is an important consideration while training.

The most common reason for knee injuries in runners is increasing the distance too quickly, warns Brian Schulz, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. Generally, it is recommended to increase distance 10 percent or less per week.

If You Answered With Pain In The Muscles

Does Walking Help Knee Pain?

When we talk about pain in the knee muscles what were referring to are the major muscles around the knee joint.

These are called the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The quads are at the front of your thigh, while the hamstrings are at the back of your thigh.

You can see the knee muscles in the image below:

You might want to try alternating between heat and ice on the knee muscles if your main symptom is muscle pain.

If you applied ice alone to your knee muscles, you might get some effective pain relief, but I found that my clients complained of worsening stiffness when they treat their knee muscles with just ice. For this reason, I would suggest you try for the best of both worlds and get the pain relieving effects of ice AND the mobility improvement that heat brings.

The other advantage of trying both is that you will get the chance to feel which one works best for YOU! As everyone is different, its important to take note of how you feel after each treatment.

To use this method:

  • Take a bag of frozen peas from the freezer
  • Wrap a thin towel around them
  • Dampen the towel slightly, then apply to the painful area for 15 minutes
  • Remove the peas/towel
  • Take a hot water bottle
  • Apply it immediately to your knee muscles, where the ice was earlier
  • Keep it there for 15 minutes, then remove
  • Go back to the peas/ice and repeat the process as many times as you need
  • Always look out for any signs of ice or heat burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.

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When To Use Heat Vs Ice

Conventional wisdom says this:

  • Cold therapy reduces blood flow to the area, which can decrease swelling and inflammation. This can be especially soothing if you have an acute injury say, your joints hurt worse than usual because you were gardening all weekend.
  • Heat therapy increases blood flow to the area, which helps blood vessels dilate, drawing in more oxygen and nutrients. This can be especially soothing for stiff joints, especially for people who experience morning stiffness because of arthritis.

As this Cleveland Clinic article says, for an acute injury, such as a pulled muscle or injured tendon, the usual recommendation is to start by applying ice to reduce inflammation and dull pain. Once inflammation has gone down, heat can be used to ease stiffness.

If youre choosing between ice and heat, for the most part, it really just depends on what type of problem youre dealing with, says Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist at Blount Memorial Physicians Group in Alcoa, Tennessee. Youre trying to get the opposite effect of whats going on. If youre physically swollen, you want to try and cool that down to allow you to have less pain. If youre not physically swollen, then youre trying to heat it up to increase blood flow to help with the healing process.

Both ice and heat therapy may decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain, which can also help with pain relief.

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