Knee pain and problems are universal issues and can affect any age group. If you or someone you know are experiencing knee pain, swelling, inflammation or soreness, here are a few ways to combat the symptoms.
- Rest: initially it is important to rest a sore joint, especially with an acute injury. Avoid strenuous activities for 5 days to a week to allow your knee to begin healing
- Ice: Icing the knee when knee pain appears can help reduce pain and inflammation. Start with ice 2-3 times a day for 15 minutes each session. Never place ice directly on the skin.
- Compression: Wearing an over the counter compression sleeve or ace wrap can help reduce swelling and improve the functionality of a sore knee joint.
- Elevation: After an initial injury or flare of pain elevating the sore leg above the hip ( ie laying down with the leg elevated) can help the excess swelling drain back into the body.
2. Keep Moving
- While recovery is vital, physical activity is also required to expedite the healing process. Nonimpact activity is often the best treatment for a sore knee because it helps maintain a range of motion while bringing healing elements to the knee.
- Exercises like the stationary bike, walking in the water, swimming and the elliptical are recommended.
- Stop any activity that makes the pain worse.
3. Walk Around
- Without walking around and working the inflammation, the body cannot properly partition oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the knee.
- A brisk 10-minute walk after a meal is advised, but choose a non-impact activity as listed above if walking irritates the knee. It will serve as a double-edged sword, giving you a chance to digest your food properly and work the knee.
4. Hot & Cold Therapy
- After the initial injury or flare has begun to heal, using both Hot & Cold Therapy interchangeably will promote a speedy recovery process
- Hot: Using a heated compress, wrap the compress around your knee and apply pressure for a few minutes. It is important to set the temperature to a reasonably hot setting. The heat promotes blood flow into the injured area.
- Cold: Using frozen packaged vegetables, ice wrapped in cloth or frozen ice packs, apply the pressure every so often. It is important to let your skin recover and come back to normal temperature after a few rounds of icing. NEVER PLACE ICE ON BARE SKIN.
- Be mindful of how you feel while using hot/cold therapy. Do not compress heat or cold against your skin for too long.
- A good rule of thumb is 3 Min/Hot to 1-2 min/Cold
5. Change up your tastebuds!
- Certain anti-inflammatory foods and spices can help the recovery process.
- Quercetin is a compound that has been found in apples, white & red onions, yellow & green bell peppers, and green tea that has shown to help with inflammation
- It is recommended that you drink 3 cups of green tea and combine a variety of the aforementioned ingredients
- Turmeric (curcumin) is also a great anti-inflammatory and can be added to many foods.
6. Cushion your feet
- Switching out your shoe soles for cushioned ones can ease the pressure placed on your knee.
- Make sure your shoes are supportive but not too heavy or constricting
- Choose gym shoes or hiking sandals over flip flops or flats when walking long distances or standing for extended periods of time
7. Regular Stretches
- The knee joint is interconnected with multiple leg muscles. Proper stretching of the hamstrings, quads, and calves will help alleviate the stiffness.
- Being gentle with these exercises and stretches goes a long way. Being careful not to over-extend anything is advised.
- If you are unsure of where begin, start with a simple forward fold ( bending towards the toes) and other helpful stretches for knee pain!
- If you’re not afraid of needles, acupuncture is another great way to alleviate sharp pains.
- A process that involves small needles that penetrate the skin. Studies suggest that acupuncture activates neurohormonal pathways via nerve stimulation.
- Be sure to find a reputable practitioner who uses sterile techniques.
9. Losing Weight
- Our knees take on a good amount of our weight. Losing weight will help alleviate some pressure on the knees. Each pound you lose can unweight your knees by around 5 pounds!
- Some aerobic exercises that can be done with higher intensity (not involving the knees) can be biking, swimming, rowing machine, weighted ball exercises, etc.
- As a precaution, it is good to warm up sufficiently and hydrate well. Taking a few preventative measures will not only help with recovery but strengthen it.
10. Deep-Tissue Massage
- Knee Pain may also be attributed to jumbled and knotted muscle fibers. Deep tissue massages to the hamstrings, inner thighs and around the knee may alleviate the pain.
- If you have a deep tissues massage be sure to hydrate well and stretch lightly after to avoid muscle cramping.
11. Use a Crutch (if needed)
- Pretty self-explanatory, but using a crutch can relieve a sore knee of stress and pain.
- Following the RICE principle is advised.
12. Be Patient
- Your age and overall health can determine the speed and length of your recovery. The severity of your knee pain and inflammation is something to take into consideration as well.
- Time and proper care of your knees will be a marathon. Taking a step at a time will go a long way (pun intended)
- If you have waited but your pain is worsening or you have developed new symptoms like clicking, locking, or instability in the knee please follow up with a medical provider. They will be able to offer a diagnosis and treat your knee pain using surgical methods.