What Conditions Can Exercise Help
Knee exercises and stretches can help relieve knee pain caused by many conditions, including these three that commonly affect older women:
Patellofemoral pain. This condition typically causes a dull, aching pain in the front of the knee thats made worse by daily activities, such as squatting, going up or down stairs, or standing up after sitting for a long period of time. The pain is caused by irritation of the cartilage underneath the kneecap when it does not glide or sit properly. Exercise can help to eliminate problems that lead to this irritation. Stretches can loosen tight muscles on the side of the knee that may be pulling the kneecap out of its groove as it moves. Strengthening weak hip muscles or stretching tight muscles in the front or back of the legs can also reduce discomfort.
Chronic degenerative meniscal tears. When one or both pads of cartilage that cushion each of your knee joints deteriorates or tears, you may feel pain and a sticking or locking sensation. While surgery is sometimes necessary, doctors usually first recommend physical therapy to help build up the muscles around the knee to take the pressure off the joint and reduce discomfort.
When Knee Pain Is Chronic
If your knee pain continues for three months or longer, stick with an exercise program apply ice or heat as needed use NSAIDs judiciously continue to lose weight, if needed and consider the following:
Walking aids. Using a cane or walker as needed can reduce the load on the affected knee, easing discomfort. A study published in 2012 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that people with knee OA who used a cane daily for two months had less pain and better function.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Some evidence finds that CBT, a short-term therapy that can provide strategies for coping with pain, may help reduce discomfort and help you function better. A study published in 2015 in Arthritis & Rheumatology reported that people with knee OA plus insomnia who received CBT not only slept better but also reported less pain.
Know When To See Your Doctor
While many conditions that cause knee pain can be helped by exercise, in some instances it may not be appropriate, says Dr. Lauren Elson, an instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. You should stop exercising and see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
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Sprained Knee Recovery Time
A knee sprain is considered healed when theres no more pain or swelling, and you can move your knee freely.
Many grade 1 and 2 knee sprains heal within two to four weeks. People who need surgery, however, may take as long as four to six months to recover.
About 80 to 90 percent of people with ACL injuries and 80 percent of those with PCL injuries will experience a full recovery. MCL and LCL sprains tend to heal quite well. However, some people with sprained ACL or PCL ligaments can develop arthritis in their knee over time.
How A Sprained Knee Is Diagnosed
The doctor will test the ligaments by stressing the individual ligaments to see if theres any instability or if the joint is stable.
If you injure your knee, see a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important if you cant stand up, feel as though your knee will collapse, or your leg looks swollen or bulgy.
The doctor will examine your knee, look for swelling and bruising, and ask you to move it around to determine your mobility. Theyll compare it to your uninjured knee.
Theyll also want to know what you were doing when the injury happened, whether you heard a pop, and how long it took to become painful.
You may also be given imaging tests. An X-ray will show if theres a broken bone, but other imaging methods allow the physician to see different, non-bony structures inside your knee. This includes the ligaments and other tissues that support it.
Knee sprains are rated by severity. An overstretched ligament is grade 1. A partially torn ligament is grade 2. A ligament thats severely torn or separated is considered grade 3.
The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of your injury and what part of your knee was damaged.
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Simple Fixes For Chronic Knee Pain
The focus of this article isnt to analyze all the different types of knee conditions and give you recommendations based on your specific clinical diagnosis. If its a diagnosis youre seeking, consult with a qualified licensed medical professional in your local area to help diagnose, plan and treat these more serious presentations.
This article will focus on how to help you figure out the origins of your chronic knee pain and the role that your activities and training may be playing in your inability to get back to being pain-free. Figuring out preventative ways to reduce the likelihood of injury should always be best practice. Unfortunately, we live in a highly reactive society when it comes to our health. Its commonplace to wait until we have a glaring red flag issue before finally addressing it. We simply try and put out the fire when discomfort occurs instead of preventing it from ever becoming an issue, as being proactive is hardly ever an initial thought.
It would be extremely short sighted to say that all knee discomfort is created equal. However, how you manage knee discomfort is a whole different story. Have you gone the traditional route of rest, medications, and conservative treatment with minimal to no results? Are you at the point where you are considering surgery because all those traditional methods of managing knee discomfort didnt work?
They Reduce Back Pain
If you have chronic back pain, odds are your psoas muscles may have something to do with it.
A tight or contracted psoas can result in the pelvis tilting forward, causing the lumbar spine to curve inward, Harcoff explains. “Eventually this will lead to soreness and aching and, often, a feeling of compression in the mid to lower back,” he says.
Tight psoas muscles â and back pain â become more common with age because we tend to spend more time sitting and being less active, Harcoff adds.
In fact, low back pain is considered one of the most disabling health conditions in seniors, according to an April 2017 review in ââScoliosis and Spinal Disordersââââ.â
That’s why you should incorporate exercises like knee drives, which serve to stretch and strengthen the psoas, into your daily routine as you grow older.
“When feeling especially tight, stretching the psoas can provide short term relief for lower back tightness, and, with strengthening, eventually get rid of symptoms altogether,” Harcoff says.
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You Sit For Long Periods Of Time
If your knee hurts, you might want to stay off of it. But resting too much makes your muscles weaken and often makes knee pain worse. Find a way to get moving without hurting your knee. Some good exercises for people with knee pain include walking, swimming, and water aerobics.
Exercise strengthens the muscles around your knee and helps support the joint. At Coastal Empire Orthopedics, we can help you find the best exercise to keep you moving, even with knee pain.
Common Causes Of Inner Knee Pain
There are a variety of causes of inner knee pain. Many of them can be linked to an injury. Some of the most common incidents that cause knee injury and pain include falls, sports injuries, or increased activity.
Adults particularly those older than 60 are most likely to experience knee pain. However, inner knee pain can also occur in children and adolescents.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most common causes of inner knee pain in children are:
- patellar subluxation
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How To Ease The Pain Now
When your knee starts aching, experts suggest the following steps:
Apply ice or heat. Both can reduce pain ice can also cut swelling, and heat can ease stiffness. For icing, place a towel or cloth on your skin, then top with a small bag of ice at least once a day for 20 minutes, recommends physical therapist Erica Fritz, P.T., D.P.T., manager of the Orthopedic Physical Therapy Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
If your knee feels stiff but isnt swollen, apply a heating pad to the area for 20 minutes twice a day. Place a protective layer, such as a towel, between the heat source and your skin.
Get some low-impact activity. You may not feel much like being active when your knees hurt, but the evidence suggests that it can help. A 2015 review by the independent Cochrane Collaboration found that the short-term pain relief conferred by exercise is comparable to that achieved with use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug .
Walking and cycling are good choices. But if land-based exercise is too painful, try an aquatic workout.The buoyancy of water is gentle on joints and may make it easier to work out. Aquatic exercise also provides a small but measurable decrease in pain and disability in people with knee and/or hip OA, according to another Cochrane review, published in 2016.
Ask about physical therapy. If pain and swelling make it very challenging to be active or youre unsure which exercises are best for you, see a physical therapist.
What Is Wear And Tear Arthritis
How can you tell if you have osteoarthritis?
If you have pain inside your knee, under your kneecap,especially when kneeling, squatting or going up and down steps, its usuallywear-and-tear arthritis, says Dr. Nickodem.
Cartilage, the cushioning betweenbones, deteriorates throughout life. It can erode more quickly in some peopledue to injury or genetics. As cartilage thins, your bones begin to rubtogether, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
Sometimes the level of pain does notalways correlate to the severity of the condition.
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Be More Aware Of Controlling How Your Knee Moves
The knee joint does a lot more than just bend and straighten the leg. It allows for rotation around the knee joint, translation back and forth, and adduction/abduction . What does that all mean? It means that your knee has to not only be able to perform these motions, but more importantly it needs to be able to resist these motions.
The inability to resist excessive motions in different planes is what can lead to increased stress on ligaments, cartilage, and other structures in the knee, and yes, injuries as well.
There is a reason we continue to see such high rates of ACL injuries, meniscus tears, and other knee related injuries. Failure to make the lower body more resilient to stress, especially when fatigue plays a factor, is what can make you more susceptible to injury. Try these simple exercises to give your routine some variety and help reduce the likelihood that your knee will give you trouble:
#5 Mini Band Alternating Knee Knockers
While the band is positioned around the knees, remember that we are actually working the hips into abduction/adduction, along with slight external rotation and internal rotation with this exercise.
#6 Bowler Squat
These have many different names, but no matter what you call the Bowler Squat, they are a highly effective way to train single leg squat mechanics, while placing an emphasis on lateral hip stability and control. A little loading goes a LONG way here so dont overdo the dumbbell weights.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Toting around excess weight places tremendous pressure on your knees. For every pound of weight you put on, the knees will have four more pounds of force on them and even more than that when you go up or down stairs, says John-Paul Rue, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. The flip side is true, as well. For every pound of excess weight you lose, you’ll spare your knees from having to cope with four additional pounds of extra force.
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Beware The Weekend Warrior Effect
Of course, no workout takes place in a vacuum: What your knees can handle today depends on what youve been doing with them over the preceding weeks and months. Thats why the arrival of ski season is a source of predictable carnage for physical therapists, as enthusiastic weekend warriors hit the slopes after months of inactivity.
Dr. Whittaker suggested taking the first day on the slopes easy and being willing to cut subsequent days short when it feels like your leg muscles or joints have had enough. Its pacing, she said. Its adapting to the capacity of your body to handle the load.
Better yet, she strongly suggested doing some strength training to prepare your legs before putting any new stresses on them. A simple, generic program of squats and lunges can strengthen the muscles that keep the knee stable and stiffen the tendons and ligaments around the joint. For starters, aim for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, lifting a weight that leaves you with shaky muscles and the feeling that you could have done two or three more reps if necessary.
Star Pattern Step Knee Bends
Heres a good exercise for working on controlling your knee positioning while in motion.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Stretch one leg out in front of you on the ground, as you bend your other knee to help your foot slide forward.
- Stand back up then repeat in a similar way, but this time bringing your foot out at a 45-degree angle in front of you. Repeat three or four more times, each time moving your foot further to the side/back.
- Repeat on the other side.
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Exercises To Reduce Knee Pain
Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions for which people seek medical treatment. It includes pain felt behind and around the knee cap, especially during activities like stair climbing, squatting, running, and walking while carrying a heavy load. Knee pain can prevent you from participating in your favorite activities and performing daily tasks. Without proper treatment, it can linger for years.
Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which include knee stiffness, incorrect positioning of the knee cap at rest or with movement, flat feet, improper exercise form, and weakness of the muscles that control the hip and knee.
A physical therapist can work with you to address your knee pain. After an evaluation, a physical therapist will design an individualized comprehensive treatment program to address the specific factors causing your knee pain. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation.
To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
These exercises are proven by research to reduce pain and improve your ability to participate in the activities you love.
Consult your health care provider before starting these exercises to determine if they are right for you. If you experience any symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness at any time, you should stop immediately. These exercises are provided for educational information only.
Based On Your Lifestyle
The best exercises may also depend on your lifestyle. If someone sits a lot, they need to do exercises that will allow the knee joint to extend, Woods says. This could be as simple as a seated leg extension in which you lift the knee and extend the leg. One caution: People with arthritis or pain at the kneecap may want to avoid extending their legs past a 45-degree angle, Ebner says.
In contrast, someone who stands most of the day needs to give their knees a chance to bend. To do so, simply lift one heel and then the other toward your backside while standinglike youre trying to kick yourself in the rear. Alternate from side to side a few times, and repeat the exercise every day.
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Do Squats Strengthen Knees
Although many of us have heard the contrary, squats can actually strengthen your knees if performed in the proper way.
It is an easy exercise that can be used to target the muscles around the joint.
The movement that should be avoided in order to protect these joints is bending forward. This motion puts added pressure on your knees and can lead to injury.
Otherwise, it is a great exercise that can be done in the comfort of your own home to help strengthen your knees!
Based On The Cause Of Your Pain
The best type of movement for you depends on the source of your pain. For example, if your knee pain is caused by inflammation, like with osteoarthritis, water aerobics and yoga are especially good choices, Woods says. Being in the water reduces the impact on the knee joint, she says. Yoga provides stretching and bodyweight strength exercises, which can benefit the knees and overall well-being. Check out more tips for exercising with arthritis.
If your pain is the result of an acute injury, Woods recommends strength training and balance exercises to assist with strengthening the knees after rehab. Access to a gym and the use of the weight machines are helpful, she says. However, bodyweight squats and straight leg raises are good options that can be done at home. Talk to your doctor about your recovery plan and how you can exercise safely.
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Exercise : Heel And Calf Raises
Stand barefoot on a 2 inch board or aerobic step. Place the toes and balls of your feet on the board, with your heels on the floor. Make sure your body is balanced you can hold onto a support such as the wall or another stabilizing surface. Raise vertically up as high as possible onto your toes and slowly lower down. Do 10 repetitions and 2-3 sets, as needed.
A great variation of this exercise is to to turn your toes inward and raise up vertically. This isolates and strengthens the inner part of your calf muscles. Then try turning your toes out and bring your heels close together, and raise up vertically. This will isolate the outer portion of the calves.
This is a fantastic exercise that will benefit both your knees and your ankles at the same time.