Best for knee pain

Medication That Knocks Out Knee Pain

Prescription Medication for Knee Pain

Prescription medication is usually a more potent pain reliever than the over-the-counter variety. These include prescription-strength NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors (meant to decrease gastrointestinal side effects like stomach bleeding). These drugs are typically used if your pain level is considered moderate to severe. The only COX-2 inhibitor currently on the market is celecoxib (Celebrex). Rofecoxib (Vioxx) and others were removed from the market because it was discovered that they led to an increased risk of heart complications.

Bargar says that although the data wasn’t completely clear, the consensus was to remove Vioxx and valdecoxib (Bextra), both COX-2 inhibitors, from the market because of associated cardiac issues. Celebrex was not shown to have a significant increased risk of heart problems. “I don’t think work better than standard anti-inflammatories, they just don’t have the gastrointestinal side effects,” he says. “I would prescribe Celebrex for someone who isn’t tolerating conventional NSAIDs because of GI side effects.”

Bargar also advises people with knee pain who are taking large doses of ibuprofen regularly to have blood tests every four months to check for kidney toxicity and anemia.

Injectable Medication for Knee Pain

Injecting medication to reduce knee pain is usually the step between taking oral medication and replacing arthritic knee joints with surgery. Corticosteroids or viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid can be injected when knee pain becomes severe.

  • Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and offer pain relief and are injected directly into the knee. These injections aren’t permanent solutions, and you may need to return for repeat injections every few months (though not to exceed four injections in the same joint per year).
  • Viscosupplementation is an injection of hyaluronic acid that lubricates your joint to reduce knee pain and increase mobility. A series of three to five weekly injections is necessary to complete the therapy. These injections are helpful if you have early stage arthritis and haven’t responded well to oral medication.

“The whole concept of viscosupplementation was developed by rheumatologists to get some lubrication into the joint, but I found it doesn’t work very well,” Bargar says. “It’s also expensive, but a lot of people will try it before surgery.”

If you have modest knee pain caused by a simple strain, try an over-the-counter medication. If your knee pain or injury is severe, visit your physician for a prescription medication that may improve your particular condition.

Joint Pain Relief: What You Can Do to Feel Better Now

Many causes of joint pain can be managed at home with a few lifestyle changes.

Hot and cold therapy

To reduce stiffness in the joints, try alternating cold with hot treatments. Warm showers or baths may help lessen stiffness in your joints in the morning. At night, you can try sleeping with an electric heated blanket or a heating pad.

Cold treatment is also helpful for relieving inflammation in the joints. Wrap a gel ice pack in a towel and apply it to painful joints for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.

Diet changes

Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables might reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help prevent inflammation. These foods include:

  • omega-3-rich foods, such as walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • antioxidant-rich foods, such as colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, red wine, and dark chocolate

On top of including more of these foods in your diet, be sure to also cut out processed carbohydrates and saturated or trans fats.

Exercise

Physical activity, such as walking or swimming, can not only decrease pain, but also improve your mood and quality of life. The CDC suggests that people with arthritis should try to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

Make sure to avoid activities that are more likely to cause joint injuries, such as high-impact exercises like tennis or running.

Tai chi and yoga are excellent activities for people with joint pain. One published study found that tai chi had a positive impact on pain, physical function, depression, and quality of life for people with OA of the knee.

If you’re overweight, you can reduce joint pain and arthritis symptoms by maintaining a healthy weight. Added weight puts more pressure on your joints, particularly your knees, hips, and feet.

If you’re having trouble losing weight, a doctor can refer you to a dietitian to get you started on your weight loss journey.

Supplements

Dietary supplements may help to relieve symptoms such as inflammation and joint pain. No dietary supplement has shown clear-cut benefits for joint pain, but there’s some evidence a few supplements might help.

Examples include:

  • fish oil, which has been shown to help to relieve tender joints and morning stiffness in people with RA
  • ginger, which has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in laboratory studies and to reduce pain and disability in people with OA
  • glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate could be helpful for people with moderate-to-severe knee pain

Keep in mind that if your joint pain is being caused by another condition, such as RA, home remedies like supplements should never replace medical treatment.

When to see the doctor

While you can manage mild joint pain at home, make sure to see a doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms along with joint pain:

  • fever
  • significantly swollen joints
  • joints that are red, tender, or warm to the touch
  • sudden numbness
  • the joint becomes completely immobile
  • inability to function day to day due to your joint pain

Over-the-counter osteoarthritis medications

There are many types of over-the-counter medications to help manage your osteoarthritis knee pain.

Please review the classes of medications and the examples given.

This is not a complete list of available medications.

Some of these medications may also treat other conditions. For more information about the medications listed, speak to your healthcare professional or check the patient information for individual products.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
Class What is it used for in osteoarthritis?
ORAL

ANALGESICS

e.g.:

Tylenol® (acetaminophen)

Relief of arthritis pain.

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories)

e.g.:

Motrin®, Advil® (ibuprofen)

Aspirin® (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA)

Aleve® (naproxen)

Relieves arthritis pain.

NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS:

Glucosamine (e.g., Jamieson glucosamine sulfate)

Chondroitin (e.g., Kripps chondroitin)

Helps relieve joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.
TOPICAL

NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS: COUNTER-IRRITANTS

Capsaicin (e.g., RUB A535® Capsaicin Cream)

Menthol (e.g., Deep Relief® Joint Pain Relief)

Temporarily relieves arthritis pain.

OTHER COUNTER-IRRITANTS

Methylsalicylate (e.g., Antiphlogistine Rub A535®, BenGay®) (Arthritis Society – Medications p12, CPS)

Trolamine (e.g., Aspercreme®) (Health Canada-LNHPD)

Temporarily relieves arthritis pain.

Remember: This information is not a substitute for your doctor’s advice. All medications can cause side effects, some of which can be serious. Speak to your doctor about what’s best for you and what to expect from your treatment plan.

Consult individual product monographs for details.

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

This is not a complete list of available medications.

Some of these medications may also treat other conditions . For more information about the medications listed, speak to your healthcare professional.

What Is the Most Effective Painkiller for Arthritis?

Doctor’s Response

There is no “one size fits all” pain remedy to treat arthritis. Effective pain relief can vary depending on the type of arthritis you have the severity.

Common over-the-counter (OTC) medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), and pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). It is sometimes possible to use NSAIDs temporarily and then discontinue them for periods of time without recurrent symptoms, thereby decreasing the risk of side effects. This is more often possible with osteoarthritis because the symptoms vary in intensity and can be intermittent. The most common side effects of NSAIDs involve gastrointestinal distress, such as stomach upset, cramping diarrhea, ulcers, and even bleeding. The risk of these and other side effects increases in the elderly. Newer NSAIDs called cox-2 inhibitors have been designed that have less toxicity to the stomach and bowels.

Prescription medications include biologics such as etanercept (Enbrel) and tofacitinib (Xeljanz), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran), cyclosporine (Neoral, Gengraf, Sandimmune), and Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), and corticosteroids such as prednisone.

Cortisone is used in many forms to treat arthritis. It can be taken by mouth (in the form of prednisone or methylprednisolone ), given intravenously, and injected directly into the inflamed joints to rapidly decrease inflammation and pain while restoring function. Since repetitive cortisone injections can be harmful to the tissue and bones, they are reserved for patients with more pronounced symptoms.

For persisting pain of severe osteoarthritis of the knee that does not respond to weight reduction, exercise, or medications, a series of injections of hyaluronic acid (Synvisc, Hyalgan, and others) into the joint can sometimes be helpful, especially if surgery is not being considered. These products seem to work by temporarily restoring the thickness of the joint fluid, allowing better joint lubrication and impact capability, and perhaps by directly affecting pain receptors.

Arthritis that is characterized by a misdirected, overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis) frequently requires medications that suppress the immune system. Medications such as methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) are examples. Newer medications that target specific areas of immune activation are referred to as biologics (or biological response modifiers). Sometimes combinations of medications are used. All of these medications require diligent, regular dosing and monitoring.

Other types of pain relief include topical creams and gels, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), steroid injections, exercise, physical therapy, heating pads or warm compresses, trigger point injections, and other treatments.

Some studies, but not all, have suggested that the food supplements glucosamine and chondroitin can relieve symptoms of pain and stiffness for some people with osteoarthritis. These supplements are available in pharmacies and health-food stores without a prescription, although there is no certainty about the purity of the products or the dose of the active ingredients because they are not monitored by the FDA. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is studying glucosamine and chondroitin in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Their initial research demonstrated only a minor benefit in relieving pain for those with the most severe osteoarthritis. Further studies, it is hoped, will clarify many issues regarding dosing, safety, and effectiveness of these products for osteoarthritis. Patients taking blood-thinners should be careful taking chondroitin as it can increase the blood-thinning effect and cause excessive bleeding. Fish oil supplements have been shown to have some anti-inflammation properties, and increasing the dietary fish intake and/or taking fish oil capsules (omega-3 capsules) can sometimes reduce the inflammation of arthritis.

For more information, read our full medical article on arthritis.

Which pain medication is safest for arthritis patients?

In a recent Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics study, arthritis patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain plus a stomach acid-reducing medicine called esomeprazole had infrequent gastrointestinal side effects. Co-prescribed with esomeprazole, celecoxib had better overall gastrointestinal safety than ibuprofen or naproxen.

NSAIDs are often used to treat pain and joint inflammation in people with arthritis, but they can cause damage to the intestinal tract including ulcers and bleeding from the stomach or intestine.

In this study, 24,000 arthritis patients were treated with one of three NSAIDs—celecoxib, naproxen, or ibuprofen—in addition to esomeprazole. Over an average follow-up of nearly 2 years on treatment, serious gastrointestinal tract problems occurred in approximately 3 per 1000 patients on celecoxib and approximately 7 per 1000 on ibuprofen or naproxen.

“Another reassuring finding was that patients who also needed to take aspirin (for preventing heart attacks and strokes) had only slightly more gastrointestinal problems than those who took only the arthritis medications,” said lead author Prof. Neville Yeomans, of the University of Melbourne, in Australia.

Explore further

Trial reveals differences in pain-relieving drugs when combined with aspirin More information: N. D. Yeomans et al, Randomised clinical trial: gastrointestinal events in arthritis patients treated with celecoxib, ibuprofen or naproxen in the PRECISION trial, Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2018). DOI: 10.1111/apt.14610 Provided by Wiley Citation: Which pain medication is safest for arthritis patients? (2018, April 19) retrieved 2 February 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-04-pain-medication-safest-arthritis-patients.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment

The earlier knee arthritis is treated, the more likely knee pain can be relieved and the less likely it will get worse. Knee arthritis treatment may include nonsurgical treatments, injections, and surgery. Typically, nonsurgical treatments are tried first. Surgery is not usually necessary and recommended only when other treatments have been tried and have not adequately relieved symptoms.

Physical Therapy

Most physical therapy programs combine strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning. The goals of physical therapy for knee arthritis include:

  • Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee as well as the buttocks and hip
  • Stretching tight and inflexible muscles, such as hamstrings
  • Encouraging the exchange of fluids and nutrients in the body with light aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, or pool therapy

See Knee Exercises for Arthritis

Strong, pliable muscles can better support the knee joint, resulting in less pressure on the damaged cartilage and bone.

Watch: Video: Standing Quadriceps Stretch for Knee Arthritis Pain Relief

Gait and posture training/> A physical therapist or doctor can also evaluate a person’s walking stride and/or other motions to identify biomechanical issues that may contribute to the individual’s knee arthritis. Retraining and introducing new habits can limit future knee problems. Appropriately designed shoe inserts can help unload the part of the knee that is painful and may reduce overall discomfort.

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Pain Medications

Pain medications can be used to temporarily relieve knee arthritis pain.

  • Over-the-counter oral pain medication. Analgesics, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can reduce pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), can reduce pain as well as the inflammation that contributes to pain.
  • Prescription oral medication. When pain does not respond to over-the-counter medications, doctors may recommend prescription-level doses of medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen. They may also prescribe other types of medications, such as COX-2 inhibitors (Celebrex).
  • Topical medications. Topical pain relievers come in both prescription and over-the-counter formulas. These creams can be applied directly onto the skin over the knee. In general, topical analgesics are less likely than oral medications to carry risks and cause side effects, such as stomach upset.

See Pain Medications for Arthritis Pain Relief

New medications to treat knee osteoarthritis are being explored and developed. Most pharmaceuticals, whether taken via pills or injections, are designed to treat the symptoms of arthritis and not reverse the process. In addition, some people use CBD and medical marijuana products (where they are legal), though more research is needed in this area. >

In This Article:

  • What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?
  • Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms
  • Knee Osteoarthritis Causes
  • Knee Osteoarthritis Diagnosis
  • Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment
  • Knee Osteoarthritis Video

Losing Weight

For people who are overweight or obese, losing weight will significantly reduce pressure on the knee joint. Reducing this pressure can help reduce or eliminate symptoms and slow down the progression of knee osteoarthritis.

See How Effective is Weight Loss for Treating Knee Arthritis Pain? and Tips for Losing Weight to Treat Knee Pain

Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis

When first-line treatments such as losing weight and physical therapy do not adequately relieve knee arthritis pain, a doctor may suggest therapeutic injections.

Several types of injections are available to help alleviate knee osteoarthritis pain.

  1. Hyaluronic acid injections, also known as viscosupplementation, provide lubricating fluid to the knee joint and can reduce pain.

    See Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis

  2. Platelet rich therapy (PRP) injections use elements of a patient’s own blood to reduce pain, improve function, and theoretically encourage tissue repair and healing.

    See Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy for Arthritis

  3. Stem cell injections use cells derived from bone marrow or fat (adipose) to harvest growth factors and some stem cells directly from the patient, and inject them back into the patient that same day. As with PRP, the goal of this treatment is to encourage new tissue growth.

    See Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis

  4. Prolotherapy is a therapy that involves several injections of an irritant (typically dextrose based “sugar water”) into the damaged tissue. Proponents believe the irritant spurs inflammation and re-starts the body’s natural healing process.
  5. Steroid (i.e. Cortisone”) injections are the most common type of joint injection used but have limited applicability as they may contribute to cartilage loss in an arthritic knee.1 Some doctors who treat knee arthritis will offer a steroid injection only once, while many arthritis experts have entirely stopped using steroid injections for knee arthritis. The goal of these injections is to reduce inflammation and thereby alleviate knee stiffness, swelling, and pain.

    See Cortisone Injections (Steroid Injections)

PRP injections, stem cell injections, and prolotherapy are regenerative medicine treatments that aim to reduce pain, improve function, and provide an environment to support tissue repair. They are considered experimental by insurance companies and are typically not an insurance-covered treatment.

See Therapeutic Injections for Knee Arthritis

Injections can be a great source of pain relief for some people, but they do not always work. The effect may be dramatic for some, and less so for others. The duration of action varies by individual.

See Do Hyaluronic Acid Injections Work for Knee Osteoarthritis?

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Knee surgery

The majority of people with knee osteoarthritis will never need surgery. However, if symptoms are severe and other treatments do not succeed, surgery may be a treatment option.

See Knee Surgery for Arthritis

The most common surgery for knee arthritis is a total knee replacement. Other, less common surgeries include partial knee replacement and knee osteotomy surgery.

See Undergoing Total Knee Replacement for Knee Arthritis

Arthroscopic knee surgery with debridement is a minimally invasive surgery that is no longer considered an effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis. Arthroscopic knee surgery is still an effective treatment approach for other knee problems, such as certain types of meniscus tears.

Watch: Surgery for Knee Osteoarthritis Video

Knee Pain

Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment, Prognosis, and Types of Chronic Knee Pain

  • Arthritis: Arthritis of the knee is an inflammatory disorder of the knee joint that is often painful. Arthritis has many causes.
    • Osteoarthritis
      • Description: Osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration of cartilage in the knee. In its extreme form, the menisci (cartilage) will be completely eroded, and the femur will rub on the tibia, bone on bone.
      • Symptoms and signs: Osteoarthritis (OA) causes a chronically painful knee that is often more painful with activity. It can be stiff with prolonged sitting and may become enlarged from new bone formation at the edge of the degenerated cartilage.
      • Treatment: Treatment is aimed at pain control with over-the-counter pain relievers. Anti-inflammatory medications, either over the counter, or by your doctor’s prescription, are also quite helpful. Knee bracing can be beneficial for more mobile patients. Injections of hyaluronic acid (viscosupplementation; Synvisc-One) can be helpful in relieving chronic pain from OA. More severe OA can be treated with narcotic pain medicines or a knee joint replacement with a synthetic joint.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
      • Description: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease of the whole body that affects many joints, often including the knee. People who have this disease often have family members who suffer from it as well.
      • Symptoms and signs: In addition to knee pain, rheumatoid arthritis may produce morning stiffness and pain in other joints. The knee can be warm to the touch and swollen.
      • Treatment: Treatment includes pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, and prescription drugs. (These drugs either try to slow the progression of the disease or try to suppress the immune system or decrease inflammation.) Newer medications, called biologics, are proteins that specifically target the substances that stimulate rheumatoid inflammation. Your health care professional will need to evaluate which one of these medications is best suited for you.
      • Prognosis: It is essential that patients with rheumatoid arthritis be evaluated and treated aggressively early for best outcomes. This generally will include a thorough evaluation by a rheumatologist.
    • Crystalline arthritis (gout and pseudogout)
      • Description: These severely painful forms of arthritis are caused by crystals that form in the knee and other joints. These crystals can form as a result of defects in the absorption or metabolism of various natural substances such as uric acid (which produces gout) and calcium pyrophosphate (pseudogout).
      • Symptoms and signs: Gout and pseudogout cause a rapid-onset, markedly inflamed knee joint. The knee can be exquisitely painful, swollen, and warm with loss of range of motion.
      • Treatment: Treatment is aimed at controlling inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications and at aiding the metabolism of the various chemicals that may lead to crystal formation. Alcohol should be avoided and gout-specific dietary changes can be successful in avoiding flare-ups.
  • Bursitis
    • Description: As a result of trauma, infection, or crystalline deposits, the various bursae of the knee may become inflamed.
    • Symptoms and signs: Acute or chronic trauma causes a painful and often swollen knee from the inflammation of the bursae. A particularly common bursitis is prepatellar bursitis. This type of bursitis occurs in people who work on their knees. It is often referred to as housemaid’s knee or carpet layer’s knee. Another type of bursitis is anserine bursitis. The anserine bursa is located about 2 inches below the knee along the medial side of the knee. Though it occurs more commonly in the overweight and in women, it also affects athletes and others. Anserine bursitis often causes pain in the region of the bursa and is often worse with bending the knee or at night with sleep.
    • Treatment: Treatment will usually include home care with PRICE therapy and NSAIDs. Severe forms, however, can be treated with periodic steroid injections to the bursae.
    • Prognosis: With optimal treatment and management, patients generally do very well.
  • Infection (or infectious arthritis)
    • Description: Many organisms can infect the knee. Gonorrhea, a common sexually transmitted disease, can infect the knee, as can common organisms residing on normal skin, especially when the immune system is suppressed by underlying diseases or certain medications.
    • Symptoms and signs: Infection of the knee causes painful knee swelling. In addition, people who develop such an infection typically complain of fevers and chills. Less severe infections may not have associated fevers.
    • Treatment: New swelling and pain in the knee must be evaluated for infection based on your doctor’s opinion. Treatment usually includes intensive antibiotic therapy and may include aspiration of the joint or surgical drainage of the infection.
    • Prognosis: The outlook depends on how early the appropriate antibiotic therapy is begun. Infection in a knee joint can lead to permanent cartilage damage.

  • Patellofemoral syndrome and chondromalacia patella
    • Description: These two conditions represent a spectrum of disease caused by patellar mistracking.
    • Symptoms and signs: The condition typically occurs in young women and also in athletes of both sexes and elderly people. In patellofemoral syndrome, the patella rubs against the inner or outer femur rather than tracking straight down the middle. As a result, the patellofemoral joint on either the inner or outer side may become inflamed, causing pain that is worse with activity or prolonged sitting. As the condition progresses, softening and decay of the articular cartilage on the underside of the patella occurs, and the syndrome is referred to as chondromalacia patella.
    • Treatment: Home care with PRICE therapy, NSAIDs, and exercises (such as straight leg raises) that balance the muscles around the patella work for most people. Others may benefit from commercial arch supports (for the arch of the foot) or orthotic supports that correct foot mechanics and may reduce abnormal forces on the knee. Severe cases of patellofemoral syndrome or chondromalacia may be treated surgically through a variety of procedures.
  • Jumper’s knee
    • Description: Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) of the quadriceps tendon at the upper point of the patella, where it inserts, or tendonitis of the patellar tendon either at the lower point of the patella, or at the place where it inserts on the tibia (called the tibial tuberosity, about 2 inches below the knee on the front side), is termed jumper’s knee. Jumper’s knee is so named because it is typically seen in basketball players, volleyball players, and people doing other jumping sports.
    • Symptoms and signs: Jumper’s knee causes localized pain that is worse with activity. It usually hurts more as you jump up than when you land because jumping puts more stress on tendons of the knee.
    • Treatment: Home therapy with the PRICE regimen together with anti-inflammatory drugs is the basis of treatment. Particularly important are rest, ice, and NSAID drugs, which will help stop the pain and break the cycle of inflammation. After controlling the pain, you should slowly start an exercise regimen to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles and resume your sport of choice a few weeks down the line.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease
    • Description: Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs most commonly in adolescents participating in sports where repetitive extension of the knee causes inflammation and injury of the tibial tubercle (of the bone itself). It can occur in nonathletes as well and is usually linked to growth spurts during puberty.
    • Symptoms and signs: Children suffering from this syndrome report pain at the tibial tubercle (the tibial tubercle is the protuberant knob on the front of the tibia, a couple of inches below the knee, where the patellar tendon attaches). This pain is typically worse when extending the leg. The tibial tubercle is tender to touch and over time begins to protrude more because the chronic inflammation stimulates the bone to grow.
    • Treatment: Osgood-Schlatter disease is a self-limited condition that usually resolves as the bone stops growing with the end of adolescence (at about 17 years of age in males and 15 years of age in females). Treatment includes PRICE and NSAID therapy. In severe cases, splinting the knee for a few weeks may help reduce the pain and halt the inflammation cycle.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
    • Description: A fibrous ligament, called the iliotibial band, extends from the outside of the pelvic bone to the outside of the tibia. When this band is tight, it may rub against the bottom outer portion of the femur (the lateral femoral epicondyle).
    • Symptoms and signs: Distance runners typically suffer from this condition. These runners complain of outside knee pain usually at the lateral femoral epicondyle. Early on, the pain will typically come on 10-15 minutes into a run and improve with rest.
    • Treatment: The most important aspect of treating iliotibial band syndrome is to stretch the iliotibial band. One way to do this is to place the right leg behind the left while standing with your left side about 2-3 feet from a wall. Then, lean toward your left for 20-30 seconds using the wall to help you support yourself. In addition to stretching the iliotibial band, PRICE therapy and NSAIDs may be of some help.

Knee pain is something that happens to almost everyone over time. Athletes and people who do a great deal of physical labor at work are prone to knee injuries while others experience knee pain as a result of conditions like arthritis or simple wear-and-tear with age. Whether you’re dealing with a recent injury or a long-term ache in one or both knees, the pain can be incredibly distracting if not physically limiting. You may or may not be comfortable treating the symptoms with medication or have a bigger picture medical plan with your doctor, but it can help to know a few ways to ease lasting knee pain at home and at work that aren’t over-the-counter meds so that you can regain some of your ability to both focus and relax.

Here at Mueller Sports Medicine, we care about each and every customer, whether you’re a professional athlete, a casual workout enthusiast, or just someone trying to get through their day-to-day life. With a selection of support and healing products, we hope to make every ache more tolerable and every injury to heal more quickly. Hopefully, these techniques for dealing with your lasting knee joint pain will help you and your knees as well.

Where is the Pain Coming From?

The first and most crucial step of treating your knee pain is to know (at least approximately) where it comes from. If it’s from an injury, you’ll need to have the knee looked at by a medical professional to ensure that there’s no serious damage or special care requirements. If it’s the result of a condition you’re aware of, follow the treatment methods suggested for this condition. If you’re not sure why your knees hurt, pay attention to where they hurt, under what circumstances, and what you can do to change the sensation. If the hurt is associated with movement and relaxes with rest or the pain is intense without reprieve, see a doctor before relying on home remedies. If there is an open wound, adjust your treatment to keep it clean and safe. Remember to be clear with your doctor about what you discover about your knee joint pain source and work with them to remedy the cause, not just the symptoms if at all possible.

Probe and Massage Gently for Soreness

Once you know approximately what is going on with your knee, it’s time to do a little in-depth investigation. Many issues with knee joint pain can be related to the muscles and tendons around the knee rather than the joint itself. Gently probe your the area around your knee with the tips of your fingers including the top of your calf and the bottom of your thigh to see if you can identify an area that hurts or is exceptionally tender, as this can clue you in on a deeper problem than a simple sprain or scrape. If the tissue is sore when probed, try a little light massage on and around your knee to see if it relieves the pain or eases tension. If it makes the pain worse, stop and, you guessed it, see a doctor.

Take Careful Walks to Reduce Stiffness

Often, if you can’t discern a definite cause of knee pain and isn’t a medical concern yet, you may simply be dealing with stiffness from sitting too long or standing in the wrong way. There are several ways to accidentally make your knees quite uncomfortable including locking your knees, sitting on your legs, and holding still too long which can all cause knee pain when you finally get up or as your knees wear out over time. Before declaring yourself injured, try walking slowly for five minutes to see if the pain eases and the tension shakes out. This is one of the reasons why “walk it off” is a standard piece of sports training advice. Often, what feels like a problem really just needs to be loosened up. Try swinging your leg freely from the knee as well if you feel unbalanced or don’t yet want to put weight on the knee.

Take a Long Hot Bath

If your knee is not swelling (this is important), then a long hot bath could be precisely what the doctor ordered. Taking a bath, especially in a tub where you can stretch out, provides a number of knee-soothing factors that promote healing and quick recovery. First, heat tends to relax muscles and tendons and relieve pain caused by stress or non-ideal movement inside your knee. Second, heat promotes blood flow which will speed up any healing process by continually delivering fresh nutrients and resources to the healing injury. Finally, laying down in the bath not only gets you off your feet, but it also gets the entire weight of your legs and feet off your feet as well if you allow your legs to float a little. If you can lay back such that your knee is in the hot water and above your heart, this achieves our next point as well, elevation.

Rest and Elevate the Knee

Outside the bath, while movement and strength are important, don’t overstress your knee and give it plenty of time to rest and recover from the day’s activities. Elevation, as in putting your feet up on something comfy, increases blood flow which is good for healing and relaxation while resting allows you to focus your body’s resources on healing and prevents further damage. These two factors combine to reduce the stress on your knees and, ideally, to reduce the pain you experience as well. Do your best to get the injured joint at a higher elevation than your heart. This can be tricky with knees and your best bet is to lie on our back with your knee propped on a padded stool or a stack of pillows.

Cold Therapy Can Reduce Joint Swelling

If your knees are swelling, as can occur after an injury or in the case of an arthritis episode, do not use heat. Swelling is over-active blood flow that results in pooling and heat will only encourage more swelling. Instead, apply cold packs or a plastic bag of ice wrapped in a towel on one or both sore knees. The cold will reduce both swelling and pain at the same time. Once the swelling goes down, so should your discomfort and you will be able to move around more freely again. Use ice for no more than 30 minutes at a time every one to three hours for best results. If you’re having trouble keeping the ice on your knees, consider soft braces with pockets combined with cold packs or soaking your knee in cool water.

Heat Therapy Can Ease Tissue Pain

If your knees are not swelling, we encourage almost any kind of safe heat treatment you can come up with at home or in the office. You can use heat packs wrapped in cloth, hot damp towels which is an at-home favorite, or even a heat therapy unit which pumps warm water through a soft brace for constant temperature-controlled treatment. When using heat therapy, you should also stick to about 30-minute sessions every few hours so as not to overdo it. Also, never fall asleep with a heating or cooling treatment on. The hot bath approach is technically another approach to distributed heat treatment and can allow longer treatments safely if you keep the bath hot. You may also consider soaking just the knee or leg.

Wear a Supportive Brace

Whether your knees are arthritic, recovering from an injury, or have become weak due to age or a medical condition, sometimes the best thing you can do for an achy knee is to wrap it in a nice supportive knee brace. If your problem is uncomfortable movement, a brace can keep your knee swinging along a safe track. If your problem is supporting weight, a brace can distribute weight over more of your leg instead of concentrating it on the knee joint.

Reduce Impacts and Weight on the Knee

Speaking of supporting weight, often a problem with knee pain has to do with impact on an already damaged or deteriorating joint. One of the first pieces of advice you usually come across for knee pain is to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the amount of work your knees do but we should also mention that impact matters a great deal. Walking lightly instead of with heavy thuds and walking toe-heel can reduce the impact on your knees with each step.

Find a Diet that Reduces Joint Pain

There are many natural remedies suggested for knee pain from ginger to “holy basil,” and most of these do actually have some power to change how your body responds to pain or treats the damaged area. Some natural foods are anti-inflammatory to deal with swelling, some are anti-spasmodic to deal with errant muscle activity, and some are natural painkillers. While working on a healthier diet, don’t forget to look up a few pain reducing ingredients based on your specific symptoms. Many people find that spicy foods that contain a lot of capsaicin can help manage long-term pain and in your dietary exploration, it’s even possible your pain is at least related to a vitamin or mineral deficiency in your usual diet. Try to make sure you’re eating every color of vegetable and increase the percentage of fish as your protein sources for the Omega 3.

Keep Your Knees Moving

Finally, rest is often recommended for injury recovery, but if you are dealing with a long-term knee joint pain problem, the last thing you want to do is weaken the knee(s) in question by resting too much and letting the muscles deteriorate. If you can and your doctor hasn’t said ‘no’, make sure to keep moving. Sometimes very careful walking with the right leg and foot alignment can help with knee joint pain. If it makes no difference, walk anyway and do gentle strength-building exercises to help your knee support itself around the pain.

For more tips and techniques for dealing with knee joint pain or any other sports, joint, or muscle-related discomfort, contact us today!

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