How To Fix Knee Pain
This article was medically reviewed by Troy A. Miles, MD. Dr. Miles is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Adult Joint Reconstruction in California. He received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2010, followed by a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and fellowship at the University of California, Davis. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the North Pacific Orthopaedic Society.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 51,427 times.
Knee pain is a common complaint among Americans and affects all ages, but often for different reasons. In younger people, knee pain is usually the result of an injury, such as a sprained ligament, tendinitis or torn cartilage. In older people, medical conditions such arthritis, gout and infections are more common causes of knee pain.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Most types of knee pain can be managed at home with self-care treatments however, in some cases, medical intervention is needed, including surgical repair.
How Does A Knee Brace Work
A knee brace might have hinges or mechanical support. The brace is meant to force you into slower movement patterns or encourage you to shift your weight off the most damaged portion of your knee. Over time, this will help to increase your range of motion or decrease your arthritis pain, depending on your core issues.
You should work directly with your doctor to find a brace that’s best for you. There are many types of knee braces in physical therapy, your practitioner will determine which one is best suited for your injury.
Brief Anatomy Of The Knee
The knee is a vulnerable joint that bears a great deal of stress from everyday activities, such as lifting and kneeling, and from high-impact activities, such as jogging and aerobics.
The knee is formed by the following parts:
Tibia. This is the shin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.
Femur. This is the thighbone or upper leg bone.
Patella. This is the kneecap.
Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Basically, the knee is 2 long leg bones held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
There are 2 groups of muscles involved in the knee, including the quadriceps muscles , which straighten the legs, and the hamstring muscles , which bend the leg at the knee.
Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments on the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia .
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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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How To Use Essential Oils
Donât put essential oil directly on your body. It may sting or irritate your skin. Here are some tips:
- Massage. Put 10-15 drops of an essential oil in 1 ounce of a carrier oil. Those are oils like coconut, almond, olive, avocado, or jojoba. Thatâll help protect your skin and make it easier to absorb. Rub into your skin, wherever you feel joint pain. You can also massage some onto your feet, arms, wrists, neck, or behind your ears.
- Inhaling. You can put a few drops on a cloth or sniff the air as you slowly wave an open bottle of essential oil in front of you. You can also buy a waterless or water-based diffuser. Thatâs a device that sprays essential oil mist into the air. Follow the instructions on how much to use.
Always test a small part of your skin first. Be on the lookout for an allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:
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How Vitamin C Reduces Knee Pain
Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis and for the metabolism of joint cartilage. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, especially in joint fluid.
Poor intakes of vitamin C can lead to reduced collagen formation and slow joint healing. In contrast, good intakes of vitamin C can reduce cartilage loss and disease progression in osteoarthritis, while its antioxidant action reduces joint inflammation.
Vitamin C stimulates bone-building cells to improve bone mineral density and support the overlying joint cartilage. Vitamin C may even help to prevent damage, cartilage loss and the development of osteoarthritis.
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:
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Page Last Updated: 10/06/21
Switch From The Sidewalk To The Treadmill
Walking or jogging on a sidewalk made of concrete can be hard on the knees. A treadmill has a little more spring and decreases the overall compressive load on the knees. When walking on a treadmill, resist the urge to walk at an incline.
Walking on a groomed earthen trail will have a similar positive effect.
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The Elevated Wall Sit Exercise
Stand with your back to a wall. Step out about two feet from the wall. Slowly slide down the wall until your knees are at a 45-degree angle. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds.
Repeat 3 times.
If you have knee issues, I recommend starting at a 45-degree angle first rather than a 90-degree angle. This will help you build strength around your knee and prepare you for stair climbing. This exercise is weight-bearing so it helps build stronger bone density and strength. But since its an isometric , it puts less stress on the knee.
What You Need To Know
- The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee.
- Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.
- Diagnosing a knee injury or problem includes a medical examination and usually the use of a diagnostic procedure such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan or arthroscopy.
- Both non-operative and surgical treatment options are available to treat knee pain and problems depending on the type and severity of the condition.
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Think Twice About These Treatments
Our experts say that some people may find relief with the following therapies but that this may be because of a placebo effect:
Injections. While injections of corticosteroids may ease inflammation and pain, relief is short-lived, and the therapy can cause side effects, such as bone thinning, tendon weakening, and nerve damage. The May 2018 Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons study mentioned above reported that injections of hyaluronic acid, which is also sometimes used for knee OA, dont have a significant positive effect on pain and function.
Bracing. A 2015 Cochrane review on bracing found that wearing a brace, such as a valgus knee brace, neutral brace, or neoprene sleeve, may have little or no effect on pain reduction, knee function, or quality of life. And because a knee brace must exert enough force on the knee to change your gait, its pretty uncomfortable, says David S. Jevsevar, M.D., chair of the department of orthopedics at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Theres little evidence that these help knee OA, according to the AAOS guidelines. In addition, supplements arent regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the same way that medications are, and you cant be sure that whats on the label is whats in the bottle.
What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Knee Pain
A health care professional will begin by asking questions related to the person’s general health and then specifically to the nature of the knee pain .
Next, an examination of the knee will be performed. This will include bending the knee through the full range of motion, checking for stability of the ligaments, and evaluating for any tenderness and swelling. It is often helpful to compare the results of the examination of the painful knee with the other knee. Frequently, this is all that is required to make a diagnosis and start treatment. In several research studies, it has been found that an experienced examiner is as reliable as X-ray examination.
Sometimes the doctor might want to do further studies such as the following tests.
Plain X-ray can establish fractures and degenerative changes of the knee.
MRI is used to evaluate the soft tissues of the knee for ligament tears or cartilage and muscle injuries.
If gout, arthritis, or other medical conditions are suspected, a health care professional might order blood tests.
Removal of joint fluid
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Who Should Wear A Knee Sleeve
If you have mild knee pain, such as tendonitis, runner’s knee, or jumper’s knee, a compression knee sleeve might be preferred over a medical-grade brace. In addition, if you are an avid athlete particularly one who puts considerable pressure on your joints like during CrossFit, powerlifting, or Olympic lifting a compression sleeve may help you stay injury-free.
CrossFit athletes, distance runners, and those who make weightlifting a regular part of their training often find knee pain relief through compression sleeves. You can easily get your , however, I recommend speaking with your physical therapist about the right compression sleeve for you first.
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.
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They Can Make A True Diagnosis
If you visit a physical therapist for hip pain or knee pain, prepare to undergo a comprehensive physical evaluation that involves a variety of tests .
A physical therapist will also review and consult with other medical practitioners involved with your treatment about your family and personal background.
This is all done to clarify your diagnosis and recognize any additional factors, such as muscle shortness or altered foot mechanics, that are contributing to your hip or knee condition. It also helps to provide useful documents that can assist with items such as benefits for workers or make decisions on when you can return to work or sport safely.
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.
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What Is Joint Compression Gear
Joint compression gear is very tight clothing or gear meant to compress your muscles or joints. Commonly made from nylon or spandex, the tightening effect helps improve blood flow to the covered area.
Compression gear can be small or large . You can wear compression gear during physical activity or after a workout to help with recovery.
Personally, I’m a fan of both. If you’re prone to injury, I encourage you to wear a knee sleeve during exercise to give extra support to the knee joint. In addition, wearing a compression sleeve after exercise can speed up post-workout recovery. Best of all, wearing a compression sleeve takes zero time or effort simply pull it over your knee, and the material provides added support. Ill dive into the science of how it works below.
What Are Knee Pain Symptoms And Signs
- Chronic use/overuse conditions: osteoarthritis, chondromalacia, IT band syndrome, patellar syndromes, tendinitis, and bursitis
Below is a list of some of the more common causes of knee pain. This is not an all-inclusive list but rather highlights a few common causes of knee pain in each of the above categories.
Acute knee injuries
Fractures: A direct blow to the bony structure can cause one of the bones in the knee to break. This is usually a very obvious and painful knee injury. Most knee fractures are not only painful but will also interfere with the proper functioning of the knee or make it very painful to bear weight . All fractures need immediate medical attention. Many fractures require significant force, and a thorough examination is performed to detect other injuries.
Ligament injuries: The most common injury is the ACL injury. An ACL injury is often a sports-related injury due to a sudden stop and change in directions. The remaining ligaments are injured less frequently.
Meniscus injuries: The menisci are made of cartilage and act as shock absorbers between bones in the knee. Twisting the knee can injure the meniscus.
Dislocation: The knee joint can be dislocated, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Knee dislocation can compromise blood flow to the leg and have other related problems. This injury often occurs during a motor-vehicle accident when the knee hits the dashboard.
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How To Use Pain Medications Properly
There are two types of over-the-counter pain medications that can be used for osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever but not an anti-inflammatory. It may help with mild knee pain.
NSAIDs can be more effective because they both relieve pain and reduce inflammation. However, they come with potential side effects and risks. NSAIDs can irritate the lining of the stomach, which may lead to an ulcer or other stomach problems. They also can impair kidney function. Some NSAIDs can increase blood pressure. And theyve been linked to an increased risk for heart disease.
Because of the risks, Dr. Day cautions against using NSAIDs regularly over long periods of time. Instead, she uses NSAIDs for her patients in two ways. First, people who have a flare-up of pain can take them regularly for three to five days and then stop. Second, they can be used over the long term, but only occasionally, maybe a couple of times a week as needed.
If youre taking NSAIDs several times a day for long periods of time, Dr. Day advises reducing their use by maximizing the other treatment strategies. She also suggests trying a topical NSAID, such as diclofenac , which has fewer potential side effects.
Opioid pain relievers are discouraged for long-term treatment of chronic knee pain. The milder narcotic tramadol might be appropriate for occasional use in some people, says Dr. Day.