Stiff Knee: Causes Best Exercises Recovery Period
Knee joint is one of the major joints, bearing weight during most of the activities. It is also prone to injuries and illnesses. Knee problems present in different ways knee stiffness is one such complaint that needs proper evaluation.
Stiff knee is an inability to move the knee joint within normal range of motion may be associated with feeling of heaviness.1 This is generally noted following injury, overuse or inflammation in the joint or surrounding tissues. Stiffness of knee can be for a short period or may last for long, depending on the underlying condition.
Trauma, joint related conditions or any disorder that causes restriction of knee movement and does not allow free movement of the joint, can contribute to knee stiffness. Also, a stiff knee limits the joint movements adding to the problem. It is necessary to understand the possible causes of stiff knee and take a rational approach towards the diagnosis and management of the condition.
What Are The Stages Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are five stages of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that affects your knees:
- Stage 0 . If youre at stage 0, your knees are healthy. You dont have arthritis of the knee.
- Stage 1 . Stage 1 means that youve got some wear and tear in your knee joint. You probably wont notice pain.
- Stage 2 . The mild stage is when you might start to feel pain and stiffness, but theres still enough cartilage to keep the bones from actually touching.
- Stage 3 . If youre at the moderate stage, youll have more pain, especially when running, walking, squatting, and kneeling. Youll likely notice it after long periods of rest . You’re probably in a great deal of pain because the cartilage has narrowed even further and there are many bone spurs.
- Stage 4 . Severe osteoarthritis means that the cartilage is almost gone. Your knee is stiff, painful and possibly immobile. You might need surgery.
How Supplements Reduce Knee Pain
Nutritional supplements can improve painful knees in a number of ways, by:
- Providing building blocks for the repair of cartilage, ligaments and tendons
- Stimulating the repair of damaged tissues and the production of cushioning synovial fluid
- Regulating the enzymes involved in breaking down or building new cartilage
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing pain through analgesic effects.
Some supplements, especially plant extracts, contain a wide variety of compounds that each work in different ways to provide more benefits than any single prescribed painkiller ever could.
In fact, supplements are set to play an increasing role in treating painful knees as the long-term use of paracetamol is no longer recommended. Paracetamol is not as safe as previously thought and is linked with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. This follows similar findings that long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Recommended Reading: Where To Get Knee High Converse
Get Relief From Stiff Knee Pain
Identifying the cause of your stiff knee is critical to the effectiveness of your treatment. However, here are some common ways that may help you find some relief:
- Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, is becoming an increasingly popular treatment method for joint pain, especially with professional athletes. The extreme cold activates the bodys nervous, immune, and endocrine systems to quickly reduce pain and inflammation.
- Aspiration: If a significant amount of fluid is present, your physician may relieve the area of pressure using a needle to remove the excess blood and fluid. This procedure is done using a local anesthetic.
- Physical therapy: One of the most common methods to relieve stiff knee pain is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. A physical therapist can recommend exercises to help increase your range of motion.
- Diet and nutrition: In cases where weight is a contributing factor to your knee stiffness, your physician may recommend changes to your diet to help facilitate weight loss. Dietary changes may also help reduce the amount of uric acid in the body when gout is the source of pain.
How Effective Are Glucosamine And Chondroitin Supplements For Knee Pain
Prevention: Taking glucosamine supplements can preserve joint health by reducing cartilage breakdown, and maintaining the production of collagen in athletes involved in various sports, including soccer and bicycle racing.
Sports injuries: Research involving 106 athletes with an acute knee injury found that taking glucosamine , significantly improve knee bending compared with placebo. These improvements in mobility took 28 days to develop, as it takes time for damaged tissues to use these building blocks, and for them to enhance repair processes, so dont expect immediate results.
Osteoarthritis: Data from 54 studies, involving 16,427 people with knee pain due to osteoarthritis, found that glucosamine and chondroitin were more effective than placebo in pain relief and improving joint function. Both glucosamine and chondroitin reduced joint space narrowing, as seen on X-rays, to indicate that the progression of osteoarthritis was significantly slowed.
Read Also: Inversion Table After Hip Replacement
Which Exercise Should I Try
All of these sports are joint-friendly, so pick your favourite and get active.
Whatever your favourite stroke, swimming is a low-impact sport, which means it puts less direct force on joints.
According to Swim England, 90% of your bodyweight is supported by the water.8
This ancient Chinese low-impact, weight-bearing exercise is worth trying, too.
In a 2016 study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, people with knee osteoarthritis who practised tai chi twice a week for three months saw an improvement in their symptoms.12
More Symptoms Of Knee Pain
If youre nervous to schedule your appointment with your doctor after a car accident or a work-related knee injury, join the club. Here are more symptoms to keep an eye out for the next time youre experiencing severe knee pain:
- Symptoms that get worse after inactivity
- Crunching or popping in the knees
- Locking up or buckling of the knees
For those whose symptoms are gone worse after inactivity, thats often the case when youve been sitting or sleeping for extended periods. However, people that have already been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis know that their stiffness will last from the moment that they get out of bed in the morning to the moment that they lie down in bed at night.
As if thats not enough, crunching or popping in the knees can occur when you do things like getting down into a deep squat position to lift equipment at work. If this happens to you frequently, then friction in your knee joints is basically a no-brainer. Also known as crepitus, crunching and popping in the knees can also be accompanied by other painful symptoms.
Raise your hand if knee-buckling sounds like an everyday occurrence in your life nowadays. Just in case youre not in the know, whenever your knees lock up or buckle up after a work-related incident, it can be a red flag for advanced or moderate knee pain.
Read Also: Best Knee Walker 2016
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.
Currently, research is being done on the effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma , which is not yet covered by insurance. PRP involves drawing some blood, spinning it in a centrifuge, and injecting part of it into the knee.
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.
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.
You May Like: Inversion Table For Knee Pain
How Is Arthritis Of The Knee Treated
Healthcare providers can’t cure knee arthritis. But they have some tips that might reduce the severity of your symptoms and possibly stop the arthritis from getting worse, including:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise using low-impact activities instead of high-impact activities . Aim for about 150 minutes of exercise per week.
- Wear shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes.
- Apply heat or ice to the area.
- Wear a knee sleeve or brace.
- Physical therapy exercises that help with flexibility, strength and motion.
- Use a cane.
Most people have stage 4 arthritis when they get surgery.
What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee happens when the cartilage in your knee joint breaks down, enabling the bones to rub together. The friction makes your knees hurt, become stiff and sometimes swell. While osteoarthritis in the knee cant be cured, there are many treatments to slow its progress and ease your symptoms. Surgery is an option for more severe forms of osteoarthritis.
Don’t Miss: Ginger Poultice For Knee Pain
What Causes Stiffness Of The Knee
A stiff knee is a common problem among older people and those who are not physically fit. It can be caused by muscular or poor flexibility in a persons legs. Arthritis and injuries are also common causes of the stiffness of the knee.
Cause of knee stiffness
Menisci comprise of two C-shaped cartilages that sit on the knee joint. The role of the two pieces of cartilage is to act as a shock absorber between several bones that make up the knee joint.
You can damage or injure a meniscus by suddenly twisting or moving your knee. This commonly happens during athletics or any other form of sport. Sportsmen and women often wear knee protective gear in order to avoid such injuries.
Menisci also become more vulnerable as you grow older because of degeneration. As they degrade, the chances of tearing increases.
When your menisci tears or get damaged, you are likely to experience a pop. This is the point when the stiffness of the knee problem sets in as per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Although you will still be able to walk normally, you will experience the following signs:
Swelling Loosing of full range motion Locking knee
Arthrofibrosis is another major cause of knee stiffness. It happens when more than enough scar tissue is formed within the knee joint. This condition is common especially after knee surgery such as a cruciate ligament surgery or knee replacement.
Some common signs of arthrofibrosis include:
Injury to ligaments
Making A Doctors Appointment
Some joint pain is aggravating and distracting, but doesn’t need emergency care. While you may not need to see a doctor immediately, here are signs that you should make an appointment to see your physician:
- The skin around your joint is red or warm
- Your pain, swelling, or stiffness lasts for three straight days or several times in a month
- Your joints are tender to the touch and difficult to move
- Fever, chills
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Effects of Aging.
- Arthritis Foundation: Ankylosing spondylitis,Arthritis weather index,Gout,Infectious arthritis,Psoriatic arthritis, “Rheumatoid arthritis treatment.”
- Arthritis.org: What Is Osteoarthritis?
- Harvard Medical School: What makes my joints stiff in the morning?
- National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association: What Is Fibromyalgia?
- NIH: Bursitis,Tendinitis.
Read Also: My Knees Crack When I Squat
How Effective Are Boswellia Supplements For Knee Pain
Boswellia improvess pain, stiffnees, flexion, swelling, and increases walking distance in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Research shows that Boswellia is at least as effective as the prescribed NSAID, valdecoxib for treating osteoarthritis. Improvements in knee pain are usually seen within 7 days, and continue to improve over several months. Benefits can also last for one month after stopping Boswellia. Boswellia and turmeric together have a synergistic effect that is more successful in treating knee pain than the prescribed pain killer, celecoxib.
Exercises And Stretches That May Help
In some cases, people with a stiff knee should avoid exercising. Some knee injuries need time to heal and would benefit from rest instead of exercise.
However, a stiff knee that occurs due to a form of arthritis may benefit from exercise. The Arthritis Foundation state that different exercises and stretches could help in different ways:
- Strengthening exercises: Increasing muscle strength around the knee reduces the stress on the joint. Examples of these exercises include leg lifts and hamstring curls.
- Range-of-motion exercises: Stretches and exercises that increase the knees range of motion keep the joint moving to reduce stiffness. Examples of these exercises include heel slides and stretching with a yoga strap.
- Aerobic exercises: Cardio exercises can boost a persons energy levels and reduce any excess weight that may put extra pressure on the knee. Examples of these exercises include cycling and swimming.
- Balance exercises: These exercises strengthen the muscles around the knee while also reducing the risk of falling, which could damage the joint further. Examples of these exercises include single leg standing and standing on a foam pad.
A person with a form of arthritis may want to discuss any new exercise plans or programs with their doctor before starting.
The following tips can also help prevent or alleviate knee stiffness and pain:
You May Like: Whiten Knees Fast
Cold Treatment For Joint Pain
Cold therapy reduces blood flow. It does this by narrowing the blood vessels. This is good for a newly swollen joint, such as the kind affected by tendonitis, because it minimizes swelling. You can use almost any cold thing as a cold compressstore-bought cold pack, a bag of frozen veggies, or bagged ice cubes. Just make sure you use a towel between the cold thing and your skin to protect it from freezingburns. Place the cold compress onto the swollen joint for no more than 20 minutes at a time. If your whole body is affected with swollen joints, you can try a chilly ice bath.
How To Get Moving Every Day
In addition to physical therapy, its critical to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine.
Joints are built to move, says Dr. Day. The evidence shows that people who are least active have more arthritis pain than people who do some form of exercise. Choose lower-impact activities, such as bicycling, swimming or exercising in a pool.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Failure
You may not have any symptoms of heart failure, or the symptoms may be mild to severe. Symptoms can be constant or can come and go. The symptoms can include:
- Congested lungs. Fluid backup in the lungs can cause shortness of breath with exercise or difficulty breathing at rest or when lying flat in bed. Lung congestion can also cause a dry, hacking cough or wheezing.
- Fluid and water retention. Less blood to your kidneys causes fluid and water retention, resulting in swollen ankles, legs, abdomen , and weight gain. Symptoms may cause an increased need to urinate during the night. Bloating in your stomach may cause a loss of appetite or nausea.
- Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. Less blood to your major organs and muscles makes you feel tired and weak. Less blood to the brain can cause dizziness or confusion.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats. The heart beats faster to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
If you have heart failure, you may have one or all of these symptoms or you may have none of them. They may or may not indicate a weakened heart.
You May Like: Scar Tissue After Knee Arthroscopy
Pain Swelling And Knee Stiffness
First lets talk about pain: Its the bodys way of preventing you from making an injury worse. Since pain may limit movement, it can cause stiffness in the knees, as can any ongoing injury.
Knees become swollen when excess fluid builds up inside the knee due to an injury, overuse, or medical condition. This can cause sensations of tightness as well as pain. Swelling may be subtle, so you may not always notice it unless its a severe injury. Since the swelling may not be visible, you may feel this as stiffness in the knee.
Any type of swelling will cause limited movement since theres less space in the knee. Irritation, internal bleeding, and injuries in the knee can lead to fluid buildup. Arthritis, gout, and tumors or cysts are conditions that can also cause swelling.
Pain and swelling are two mechanisms your body uses to protect itself. Together they can lead to stiffness in your knee. Next, lets look at possible causes.
Read Also: How Much Does Aflac Pay For Ambulance Ride