As much as being fit and healthy is a good thing, there’s an often unforeseen consequence that tends to follow an active lifestyle. That nagging side effect is knee pain. It seems a little unfair considering we exercise to keep our bodies in shape, not to wear them down, but it is one of the prices that we pay. There are many causes for this pain, from simple mild swelling, to a full blown tear. This is why knee care research has kept up with the times, offering many viable treatments to patients in dire need.
Knee Pain Remedies
For serious knee injuries, dealing with knee pain will involve surgery and long periods of rest. There are other things, however, that one can do to alleviate soreness and help speed up recovery. Not only are there prescribed medications one can take, but there are other remedies that help as well. Let’s start with what your doctor can do for you.
Of course, the most uncomfortable thing about a knee problem is the pain. Sometimes, your physician will merely chalk up your problem to joint stress, and in this case an ibuprofen prescription will help. This drug can reduce swelling and in the process eliminate pain as well. For more serious conditions like bursitis, arthritis, and tendonitis, a cortisone shot can do wonders. This is a very strong anti-inflammatory chemical that reduces the pressure that leads to pain. Due to near instant reduction of inflammation, relief is felt almost at once. If there is no swelling, one can simply take Tylenol. Also, while not advisable, narcotics like morphine are prescribed when the pain veers out of control.
Along with these drugs, your doctor will advise you to undergo physical therapy. This involves a variety of exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee, thereby supporting it more. You may already know a few quadriceps and hamstring exercises, but if injury is serious, supervision of a physical therapist is highly advisable. Some say that practicing yoga can help ease knee pain, but this is something you should do as a preventative measure instead of during recovery. Other preventive measures include cross training to avoid overuse, massage therapy, running on softer surfaces (but not sand) and stretching the surrounding muscles. One should also shift to running on the balls of one’s feet, and avoid landing on the heels. New research suggests landing on the heels, no matter how good your shoes, is a major contributor to knee problems.
As for supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin have received a lot of attention due to their efficacy in improving the cartilage supporting the knee. People with meniscus and osteoarthritis problems should definitely give it a shot. A lot of research has been poured into these supplements, and the chitin shellfish by-product produced impressive results. Based on one study, even Navy Seals stand by them. So far, no other knee supplement gives this much relief in 3 months or more of consistent use. Just be aware that these aren’t miracle drugs. If the pain is telling you to stop running, then do so. Walking or running off the pain is a huge misconception.
Other than drugs and supplements, there are home remedies that can also be applied to the knee. This is not limited to hot and cold compress treatment, which actually works when applied correctly. Rather, this also involves using tumeric, goat’s milk or butter, and castor oil all mixed together for joint relief. More effective is the use of Rhus tox, Arnica, Berberis, and Dulcamara, all of which help with the swelling in the knee.
Knee Pain Treatments
For people that aren’t into high impact sports but continuously exercise, the usual cause for the pain is an overuse injury. This means that the injury happened over time and not in one shocking instant. Injuries of this nature include runner’s knee, illiotibial band syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, and simple muscle strains. Sometimes these injuries are caused by suddenly going all out in an activity you haven’t done for a long time, or just by constantly running, jumping and performing other activities to excess. All of these involve some kind of inflammation or irritation of a knee part, and treatment is as follows.
First of all, avoid the activity that caused the pain, or any that are similar. One must rest for a few weeks to a few months, depending on the doctor’s advice. This will allow the irritated joint to heal on its own. As we are also trying to lessen inflammation, icing the knee is important. Doing this every 15 minutes to every few hours as the days pass will help. Finally, one must compress the knee with a bandage, and elevate it above heart level. This will ease pain and improve healing. After some time, applying heat to hasten healing has been advised. This improves blood flow, thereby improving the healing of outer ligaments and cartilage.
Now, treating acute knee injuries is quite different. These can be a lot more serious as they involve tearing of knee parts caused by a sudden impact or twist. Sprains and strains may be healed the same way as overuse injuries, but a tear may need surgery. Injuries of this type include a torn ACL and torn meniscus. Overuse injury treatment can be done to decrease swelling while waiting for a doctor. In the case of an external meniscus tear, the injury may heal in 6 weeks on its own. However, in the case of a torn ACL, blood does not reach the interior of this cartilage. The torn piece will have to be surgically removed, and sutures may be applied. The fact that an ACL won’t heal on its own is quite unfortunate as it is the most common sports injury. Often, ACL reconstruction is done, and healing will take months. Some athletes never recover, in terms of playing sports at least. Regular activities can be done even with a torn ACL. Just stay away from high impact sports and strenuous activity.
Preventive measures are important, as acts like properly stretching and easing into a sport or workout will lessen the chances of injury. Wearing properly cushioned footwear, keeping your weight in check, and warming up before playing or running are definitely highly recommended.