How Do I Take Care Of Myself With Knee Osteoarthritis
It can be frustrating to cope with osteoarthritis of the knee symptoms that keep you from working or enjoying daily activities. Fortunately, there are several things you can do for your symptoms:
- Applying ice or heat reduces your knee pain, stiffness and swelling.
- Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight takes stress off your knees.
- Enjoying activities such as swimming, biking or walking keeps your knee joint flexible.
- Using a knee brace or adding shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes can reduce pressure on your knees.
- Participating in self-management programs can help you feel more in control of your health.
Common Causes Of Knee Pain Without Injury
Of all the joints, our knees are arguably the ones most likely to feel pain. Lots of injuries can cause knee pain. Car accidents, falls and sports accidents are some of the most common causes of knee injuries, like fractures, torn ligaments and sprains. Even though its never fun to experience knee pain, when it follows an injury, at least you have a pretty good idea whats causing your discomfort. And that can make it a little easier to seek and receive proper treatment.
Sometimes though, knee pain occurs without a preceding injury. In those cases, it can be tempting to ignore the pain at first to see if it subsides on its own. The problem is, even though you might not have had an accident, the issue causing your pain can still be serious. And delaying care can wind up prolonging your symptoms and even making them worse.
Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy refers to the feeling of numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. Idiopathic means the cause is not known, and chronic means the condition is ongoing without getting better or worse.
The condition is most often found in people over age 60. Idiopathic neuropathy has no known cause.
Symptoms include uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the feet difficulty standing or walking due to pain and lack of normal sensitivity and weakness and cramping in the muscles of the feet and ankles.
Peripheral neuropathy can greatly interfere with quality of life, so a medical provider should be seen in order to treat the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination blood tests to rule out other conditions and neurologic and muscle studies such as electromyography.
Treatment involves over-the-counter pain relievers prescription pain relievers to manage more severe pain physical therapy and safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation in the feet and therapeutic footwear to help with balance and walking.
Top Symptoms: distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass
Urgency: Primary care doctor
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Physical Therapy For Knee Pain
One of the major components of rehabilitation for knee pain is physical therapy. Our app has a series of exercises to help you work on all the muscles that stabilize the knee joint. In fact, at some point, it should become your mainstay to treating your knee pain.
Start SlowYou dont have to go do it all at once. Straight leg raises and quad sets while lying down should be good enough while you deal with pain. Once the pain eases, you can do more complex exercises. This is particularly important if you havent been active for a while. The goal here is to ease your joints into exercise. Dont push yourself too hard. By doing so, you will overwork your muscles, strain the joint and worsen the knee pain.
Build Over TimeYou dont have to go do it all at once. Straight leg raises and quad sets while lying down should be good enough while you deal with pain. Once the pain eases, you can do more complex exercises. This is particularly important if you havent been active for a while. The goal here is to ease your joints into exercise. Dont push yourself too hard. By doing so, you will overwork your muscles, strain the joint and worsen the knee pain.
Initially, you may be asked to simply flex your knee multiple times. This may seem silly but its a gradual step up. Once youve learned the basics and have established a foundational routine, you can step up through the program, but you will need some hand-holding in the beginning.
Treatment For A Dislocated Kneecap
If your kneecap has not corrected itself by the time you get to hospital, a doctor will manipulate it back into place. This is known as a reduction.
You may be given medicine to ensure you’re relaxed and free from pain while this is done.
Once the kneecap is back in place, you may have an X-ray to check the bones are in the correct position and there’s no other damage.
You’ll be sent home with painkillers and your leg will normally be immobilised in a removable splint to begin with.
A few weeks of physiotherapy will be recommended to aid your recovery.
Surgery is usually only necessary if there was a fracture or another associated injury, such as a ligament tear.
It may also be done if you have dislocated your kneecap at least once before.
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What To Do If You Dislocate Your Kneecap
A dislocated kneecap is not usually serious and will often pop back into place by itself.
But it’s still a good idea to get it checked by a health professional:
- if your kneecap has gone back into place by itself go to your nearest urgent treatment centre or A& E
- if you cannot get to hospital without being in severe pain, you should call an ambulance do not try to put the cap back in place yourself
While you’re on your way to hospital or waiting for an ambulance, sit still with your leg in the most comfortable position.
Knee Pain And Problems
Knee pain is a common complaint among adults and most often associated with general wear and tear from daily activities like walking, bending, standing and lifting. Athletes who run or play sports that involve jumping or quick pivoting are also more likely to experience knee pain and problems. But whether an individuals knee pain is caused by aging or injury, it can be a nuisance and even debilitating in some circumstances.
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How Does Osteoarthritis In The Knee Affect My Body
Knee pain is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis in the knee, making it painful for you to jog, run, climb stairs or kneel. It can also make your knees feel stiff or swollen. Over time, osteoarthritis of the knee can change the shape of your knee joint, making your joint feel unstable or wobbly.
What Causes The Pain
Knee pain can be caused by a variety of issues, from injury to tendonitis to bursitis . But the primary cause of knee pain, according to Dr. Stearns, is usually a form of arthritis.
People with normal, healthy knees usually dont get pain at night, he says. Theres typically a reason, and its often because they have arthritis, commonly osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is mechanical in nature, caused by wear-and-tear on the joints as well as the cartilage and tendons associated with the joints. This sets the condition apart from rheumatoid arthritis which is inflammation of the joints, typically caused by an overactive immune system.
While osteoarthritis is typically seen in older patients, it can occur in younger patients, too, particularly those who are prone to overuse of certain joints or suffered significant injuries like ligament tears.
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Whether You’re Active Or Not Stretching Is Good For The Knees
Stretches that focus on the calf, hamstring and quadriceps muscles take pressure off of the knees and kneecaps. “Many people often say there is no aerobic value in stretching, so they see it as a waste of time,” says Bush-Joseph. “But a well-conditioned, flexible body is less likely to develop overuse problems in the knees.”
Some good stretches to protect the knees include step-ups, hamstring curls and straight-leg lifts. Additionally, stretches that focus on building flexibility in the hips, including a butterfly stretch and a standing hip flexor with a resistance band, can help alleviate knee pain.
People who do not like to stretch before a workout can still protect their knees by slowly ramping up to top speed rather than jumping full speed into their workout.
Types Of Pain Behind The Knee
There are a number of health conditions that may result in pain behind your knee. Two common conditions that cause it are a:
- posterior cruciate ligament injury
- popliteal cyst, also called Bakers cyst
A posterior cruciate ligament injury can happen if you overstretch or tear this ligament, which runs across your knee from your thigh to your shin bone. It often results from a heavy blow to the front of your knee while its bent. This can happen if you hit your knee on the dashboard during a car accident, or over-straighten your leg and bend your knee backwards. Doctors call this hyperextension.
A cyst is a collection of fluid or material inside a thin layer of tissue. A popliteal cyst is a cyst in the shallow pit at the back of your knee. Its often linked to other conditions that affect the knee, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or cartilage injuries. If you injure your knee, it can cause a collection of fluid to develop within your knee. Sometimes you can feel this in the depression at the back of your knee.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is another common cause of knee pain. The smooth, shiny cartilage that lines your knee joint becomes worn and rough. This causes pain and damages your knee over time. It mostly affects people over 50. The older you are, the more likely you are to get it.
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Complementary And Alternative Therapies
A number of mind-body therapies may be used to treat knee pain. These include:
- Tai chi
These are especially common for knee osteoarthritis.
The once-popular supplements glucosamine and chondroitin have fallen out of favor for knee osteoarthritis. That’s due to a lack of scientific proof. Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or medications.
The Pros And Cons Of Cortisone Shots
If you’re experiencing pain that makes it difficult for you to start physical therapy to address your knee problem, your doctor might recommend that you get an injection of cortisone to lessen the pain.
The shot injects a corticosteroid drug and a local anesthetic into the joint to temporarily relieve pain and swelling. But it isn’t a long-term fix. “Often people think that injections, especially cortisone injections, will fix a knee problem. What they do is provide a window of pain relief so you can make progress with rehabilitation,” says Dr. Rebecca Breslow, an instructor in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. “But when cortisone injections are overused, there is some evidence that they can actually accelerate osteoarthritis.”
In short, while cortisone shots put you on the path to healing, they should be used judiciously and aren’t a permanent solution to the underlying problem that’s causing your knee pain.
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Losing Weight Can Improve Knee Pain
“Your weight plays a major role in knee pain,” says Bush-Joseph. “If you walked around all day with a backpack that had a 10-pound weight in it, you would feel how achy your back, hips and knees are at the end of the day. That shows you the impact extra weight can have on your joints.”
With each step people take, two to four times their body weight is transmitted through the knee joint, according to Bush-Joseph. Thus, the more you weigh, the harder the impact is on your knee joint.
However, people who are overweight and have arthritic knee pain can lessen the impact and ultimately, relieve knee pain by losing weight. In fact, people with arthritic knees lose about 20 percent of their pain with every 10 pounds of weight loss.
“If you are 20 pounds overweight and you have arthritic knee pain, almost half of your pain will go away by losing 20 pounds,” says Bush-Joseph. Of course, losing 20 pounds isn’t easy. But, if people are able to lose even 10 pounds and add in some stretching and flexibility training, they’ll experience significantly less pain, according to Bush-Joseph.
Should I Exercise With Knee Pain
Myth: Dont do ANY exercise if you have any knee pain If you have knee pain, you need to be careful when doing weight-bearing exercises, such as body pump classes, Zumba, step aerobics, jumping, running and sprinting, as these can all put a strain on your knee joints. But you can still exercise!Nov 7, 2019
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How Are Knee Problems Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, other tests for knee problems may include:
X-ray. This test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.
Computed tomography scan . This test uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
Arthroscopy. A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube , which is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen used to evaluate any degenerative or arthritic changes in the joint to detect bone diseases and tumors to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.
Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient’s bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis In The Knee
Pain is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis in the knee. Your knee might hurt when you move it, or even when you are just sitting still. Other symptoms are:
- Your knee feels stiff, particularly when you first get up or when youve been sitting for a long time.
- Your knee looks swollen or feels puffy.
- You hear a cracking or grinding noise when you move your knee.
- Your knee feels wobbly, as if it could buckle or give out.”
- Your knee might lock up, or feel as if it is stuck.
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What To Do When You Have Knee Pain
If you already have knee pain, some things can make it worse, including activities like:
- Squatting or standing on a hard surface for a long time
- High-impact activities, such as running or basketball
If you have a job where you squat or stand on a hard surface for a long time, try wearing gel shoe inserts or cushioned shoes.
Staying active is important, DiNubile says. Being active regularly helps keep up your joint function, like range of motion and how strong your knees are. Choosing the right activities for you can help, too. Repetitive squats, step-ups, and lunges can âset off fireworks in somebody with a kneecap issue,â he says.
Valaik recommends swimming and bike riding. DiNubile suggests activities like walking, using an elliptical machine, yoga, and stretching exercises. If you have a fitness program you like but it is starting to cause pain, check to see if there are changes you can make to continue, he says.
Less Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Less-common causes of significant knee pain include conditions and injuries. Injuries include:
- Dislocated kneecap: Causes are sharp blows to the knee or twisting. Severe pain in the front of the knee plus buckling, slipping, or catching during movement.
- Kneecap fracture: Causes are a direct blow or falling onto the knee. Pain, difficulty straightening the leg, bruising, and swelling can occur. Sometimes there’s visible deformity.
- Gout: High uric acid levels form sharp crystals inside the joint. Affects the knee, hip, fingers, and especially the big toe. Pain can be severe.
- Plica syndrome: Irritation of the synovium . Pain is in the middle and front of the knee. Worsens with inactivity or squatting, running, or kneeling. The knee may pop when bent.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease: Strikes after growth spurts in kids between 9 and 14. Pain is in the front of the knee. It improves with rest and worsens with activities like running and jumping.
- Osteochondritis dissecans: In children, lack of blood supply weakens the bone and cartilage. The knee may separate from the underlying bone. Causes pain with activity.
- Knee joint infection: Causes significant pain, swelling, warmth, painful movements, and fever. It may result from a bacterial infection in the bloodstream.
- Bone tumor: Very rarely the source of knee pain. Symptoms include fever, unintentional weight loss, and pain that’s worse at night.
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What Does A Knee Injury Feel Like
Obviously, it hurts! But the type of pain and where you feel it can vary, depending on what the problem is. You may have:
- Pain, usually when you bend or straighten the knee
- Trouble putting weight on the knee
- Problems moving your knee
- Knee buckling or âlockingâ
If you have these symptoms, see your doctor. They will check your knee. You may also need X-rays or an MRI to see more detail of the joint.