How To Help Arthritis In Knees
If you are experiencing severe knee arthritis that is impacting your quality of life, its important to talk to your doctor first. They can help diagnose any underlying causes and design a treatment plan to improve your daily life.
For mild to moderate pain, here are our tips for how to help arthritis in the knees. As always, talk with your doctor before starting a new treatment.
What Causes Knee Pain
The anatomy of the knee, the bodys largest joint, is especially complex because it merges the thigh bone, kneecap and shin bone. Sometimes the kneecap isnt properly aligned, contributing to some cases of knee pain. But many cases are prompted by overuse.
On top of that, carrying extra weight or neglecting overall body conditioning can set you up for temporary or chronic knee pain, Dr. Kissin says. For every pound of body weight, knees feel the force of six pounds of pressure, even when walking on flat ground, he notes. Genetics also play a role, so look to your family history for clues whether your knee pain may be an inherited trait.
Its OK to run and do more high-impact activities, but you should make sure you also do conditioning exercises such as using a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer, Dr. Kissin advises.
What Can I Do About Knee Arthritis
Aside from a traumatic injury to the knee, you may be suffering from a chronic condition like osteoarthritis. This inflammation occurs due to loss of cartilage in your knee joint due to wear and tear of the cartilage, so the bones in the joint are rubbing against each other and causing pain. If the knee pain persists, your condition needs to be evaluated by an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.
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Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Knee pain describes any type of discomfort that affects the knees, such as sensitivity and throbbing. Its common for knee pain to also be accompanied by other symptoms affecting the legs, which can include:
- Swelling around the knee
- General reduced range of motion of the legs
- Feeling like your knee gives out when you try to move
- Unusual sounds when moving the knee, such as a popping or crunching sound
The knee joint, a complex part of the body that is formed by interconnecting bones, cartilage and ligaments, is where the major bones of the upper leg and lower leg meet. The knee is actually the largest joint in the human body and functions as a hinge joint, formed by the femur , the tibia and the patella that are held in place by several joints/tendons. The knees must withstand pressure, weight and shock, and rely on the muscles in the legs to keep them stable and strong.
Knee pain is sometimes referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome or runners knee, which describes pain and other symptoms affecting the area between your patella and femur . Its possible for knee pain to be either chronic or acute. Chronic pain is the kind that does not come on suddenly and continues to get worse. It usually lasts 46 weeks or longer.
Most Common Knee Pain Causes:
Knee Injuries that Cause Knee Pain:
What Is Knee Pain
Pain is a common knee problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint , the kneecap , or the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage of the knee. Knee pain can be aggravated by physical activity, as well as obesity, affected by the surrounding muscles and their movements, and be triggered by other problems . Knee pain can affect people of all ages, and home remedies can be helpful unless it becomes severe.
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Facts You Should Know About Knee Pain
- Knee pain is a common problem with many causes, from acute injuries to complications of medical conditions.
- Knee pain can be localized to a specific area of the knee or be diffuse throughout the knee.
- Knee pain is often accompanied by physical restriction.
- A thorough physical examination will usually establish the diagnosis of knee pain.
- The treatment of knee pain depends on the underlying cause.
- The prognosis of knee pain, even severe knee pain, is usually good although it might require surgery or other interventions.
What Else Can Help With Knee Pain
Finding relief from knee pain depends on the cause or issue thats making it difficult for you to go about your daily activities. Carrying excess weight puts extra stress on your knees, which may lead to osteoarthritis.
In this case, the most effective treatment, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is weight loss. Your doctor may recommend a combination of diet and exercise to help you lose weight and strengthen the muscles in your lower body, especially around your knees.
A 2013 study found that adults with overweight and knee osteoarthritis experienced a reduction in weight and knee pain after 18 months of a diet and exercise program.
But if overuse is the culprit, your doctor will likely suggest RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation and physical therapy. A physical therapist can work with you to develop a program that includes range of motion exercises, stretches, and muscle strengthening movements.
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What If Pain Doesnt Subside
In most cases, knee pain will improve with home remedies. If it doesnt after several weeks, see a doctor. Several in-office treatments may be considered, Dr. Kissin says, including steroid injections or physical therapy.
Surgery may be an option if all other non-surgical treatments dont work. Its good to have a well-balanced approach for patients and see what we can offer without resorting to surgery, Dr. Kissin says. But the best treatment for knee pain is prevention, which should center around weight control and exercise, he adds.
Its important to do at least two hours of exercise a week and maintain this as we get older, he says. Diet alone isnt enough. We need to maintain our body, or it wont be there for us.
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.
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Be Easy On Your Joints
When you exercise, try to avoid high impact exercises.
High impact exercises can injure your knees even more and cause more pain.
Jarring exercises like running, kickboxing, and jumping should all be avoided.
It would be best if you also steered clear of exercises like lunges and deep squats that put a lot of pressure on your knees.
These exercises can worsen your pain, and if you dont do them correctly, they cause injury.
How To Relieve Knee Pain Naturally
Knee pain is a very common symptom in many people, it may be the caused by bad posture, a sports injury or conditions and more serious illnesses such as tendonitis, arthritis or osteoarthritis, among others. Because knees withstand all kinds of movements and body weight it is one of the joints that suffers the most, which gets worse with age due to suffering major wear and tear. In addition to medical treatments that must be strictly followed to solve the problems that affect our knees, we can also use certain safe methods that will help us relieve knee pain naturally. We show you the most effective in this OneHowTo article.
A very popular and effective method to relieve knee pain naturally is to apply cold to the joint, especially when it is inflamed because of a blow or tendonitis. To do this, you can use ice packs and even cold compresses, but never apply ice directly to the skin. It is important to use a towel or cloth to cover it and keep in direct contact with skin.
Also, patients suffering from chronic knee pain without inflammation find relief by applying heat. Use hot water, hot packs and even a heating pad if this is the case.
Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that are effective in alleviating joint pain. Heat ½ cup of coconut oil until warm and gently massage the knee.
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Injections Are Another Low
If other strategies dont provide enough relief, injection therapy is an option with low risk.
A corticosteroid injection involves delivering this anti-inflammatory drug directly to the knee. The benefits are typically short lived. But it varies from person to person. I tell my patients the pain relief can last anywhere from a week to a year, says Dr. Day. One cautionary note with corticosteroids is the potential to increase blood sugar, which is a concern for people with uncontrolled diabetes.
For a possibly longer lasting effect, an injection of hyaluronic acid can be tried. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that healthy joints have a lot of and arthritic knees dont, says Dr. Day. It takes longer to start working than a corticosteroid injection, but the effect often lasts six months to a year.
Two other injection therapies are platelet-rich plasma and stem cells, neither of which is covered by insurance. PRP involves drawing some blood, spinning it in a centrifuge, and injecting part of it into the knee. Theres currently more science backing up the effect of PRP than stem cells, says Dr. Day.
If youre not able to get your symptoms under control with a combination of these measures, she says, it could be time to talk to your doctor about surgery.
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.
Recruit An Occupational Therapist
An occupational therapist can suggest ways to minimize stress on your knees as you go about your daily routine, says Jane McCabe, MS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Orange County, California.
One strategy that can ease joint strain: Always sit in a chair that has arms that way, you can push off them when you stand up. Your occupational therapist can also recommend assistive devices that make it easier to stand up, like kneelers, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
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How Is The Cause Of Knee Pain Diagnosed
A thorough examination is necessary for an accurate determination. The examination should include an assessment of whether the pain actually stems from the knee. Sometimes knee pain can be referred pain from another source, such as a hip injury. Ã¢â¬ÅReferred painÃ¢â¬ï¿½ means that an injury or disease in one part of the body is causing pain in a different location.
When making a diagnosis, your doctor will consider information that includes the following:
- Patient characteristics. Some conditions are more likely to occur in individuals with certain characteristics. For example, osteoarthritis is more frequent in older adults, and conditions associated with overuse are more frequent in people who participate in athletic activities. Obesity can also be a factor in some conditions.
- Patient history. The physician asks questions to determine potential sources of trauma, such as car accidents or sports injuries. The physician will also ask where and when you feel the pain.
- Results of a physical examination. The physician moves and probes your knee for signs of damage to the muscle, tendon, or cartilage. This includes exploring the location of the pain, such as behind the knee, in front of the knee, or inside of or on top of the knee.
- Results of imaging and other tests. Sometimes X-rays, MRIs, or other diagnostic tests are needed to identify structural damage or abnormalities.
Exercises To Strengthen Your Knee & Prevent Knee Pain
Patients who experience pain often do not want to move a muscle in the fear that it will worsen the discomfort. However, medical experts emphasise that being mobile is an integral part of relieving and preventing pain.
If youre looking for simple exercises that help to strengthen your knees, consider the following:
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Go Easy On The Rest And Exercise
Many people think that once anything starts to hurt that they need to rest.
But you shouldnt rest too much.
Too much rest weakens your muscles, which can worsen joint pain.
You should find a low impact exercise program that wont harm your knees and stick to it.
Even a walk around the neighborhood every day may be enough to keep your knee loose.
Cardio exercises will strengthen the muscles that support your knee as well as increase your flexibility.
Weight strengthening exercises and stretches will do the same.
Walking, cycling, swimming, tai chi, and yoga may all be beneficial as well.
When youre physically active, you will boost the health of your cartilage tissue.
Exercise will also better enable your body to support your joints.
If you arent sure what to do, you can work with a doctor or physical therapist to figure out the best exercises and stretches for your condition.
When you strengthen your upper leg muscles, like your quads, through exercise, you are helping them protect your knee joint.
Here are a few simple ways to strengthen these muscles:
- Sit or lay down and straighten and raise a leg.
- Perform step-ups on your stairs.
- Sit on a chair and then stand and sit repeatedly for a minute.
- Hold a chair and squat until the kneecaps cover the toes ten times.
Find Relief And Stay Active With These Simple Stretches And Strength Moves
For up to 40 percent of Americans, at one time or another, sciatica pain becomes a literal pain in the butt due to the sciatic nerve. Check the best acupuncture points for sciatica pain relief here
A blanket term for any radiating pain that originates from the sciatic nervethe longest nerve in the body, running from the low back through the buttocks and down the legssciatica symptoms occur when the nerve becomes pinched or aggravated.
Two of the most common causes of sciatic nerve pain include herniated discs and narrowing of the lumbar spine , explains Brian Jones, D.P.T., a physical therapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
A tight piriformis muscle or hamstring muscle that squeezes the sciatic nerve just a little too tight is another top culprit. If youre not familiar with the piriformis, its a small muscle thats tucked away behind the gluteus maximus.
Inactivity or lengthy bouts of sitting, along with obesity and type 2 diabetes, can also contribute to issues anywhere along the sciatic nerve.
Whatever the root cause, if youve been diagnosed with sciatica, you know the pain very well: Sometimes, its dull and achy. Other times, its sharp enough to take your breath away or for your leg to give out.
So it might have you thinking that an exercise program is a no-go for you. Think again. We have exercises that will help.
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When To See Your Doctor
Any incidence of severe knee pain should be checked out by your doctor particularly if:
1) Your knee looks deformed2) You cant put any weight through the leg3) Your knee movements are limited cant fully bend or straighten the knee4) You have severe knee pain, especially at night or when resting5) Your knee keeps giving way6) You feel unwell or have a fever7) There is redness or the knee feels hot8) There is major swelling around the knee9) Your symptoms persist or get worse10) You have pain, swelling, redness, tingling or numbness in the calf
Gold Nugget Tips To Make Stair Climbing A Breeze For Your Knees
Go get an index card so you can write these down. No seriously, Ill wait. Ok, got one? Good. Here are ten gold nuggets to help you climb or descend stairs like you were floating on air. Practice these individually so you build a habit around each of them and your body will remember to do them like brushing your teeth.
Drive with your glutes when climbing up. Make it feel like your glutes are doing all the work to propel you upward.
Drive your knees outward. This will provide greater stability and strength. Put another way, dont let your knees collapse inward when going up or down. Pressure should be outward, not inward.
Line up your knee with your second toe. You want your knees tracking properly. Keep them in line with your second toe and youll do just that.
Point your toes outward just slightly. This will help your knees track as well and help prevent your knees from collapsing inward.
When climbing upward, feel pressure on the outer portion of your foot, especially your heel. Why? Two reasons. This will again, help prevent your knees from collapsing inward. Secondly, when there is a weakness in your knees, they often wobble when you are doing difficult movements like stair climbing. When you focus on your weight distribution to such a small degree, it can help minimize the wobbling of your knees.
Tighten the abs and try to tuck your pelvis in as much as possible. This will help align the pelvis.
To your health!
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