The good news is that, depending on the severity of the pain and the underlying condition, knee pain is generally very treatable. Here are a few tips for managing knee pain, whether from an injury or an unrelated health issue.
Try to Slim Down
As mentioned, knee pain is often caused by being overweight or obese. The heavier a person is, the more pressure is put on the knees, particularly when walking or running. Being overweight also contributes to osteoarthritis, a degenerative bone condition that’s like wear-and-tear on your car tires. Dropping a few pounds can go a long way to alleviate knee pain—and other joint pain you might be experiencing.
Strengthen Your Muscles
If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, it’s almost always a good idea to replace that with muscle. Now, some of this will come naturally if you’re working to lose weight. But if you want to limit pain in the future, it’s a good idea to strengthen the muscles around the knee as well. Luckily, there are some basic exercises you can do at home, such as leg raises, hamstring curls, and wall squats (among others). Just remember to stretch first!
Switch to Low-impact Exercises
Not all exercises have the same effect on the body, and some forms of exercise can exacerbate knee pain. Sports that involve running, for example, can have a high impact on your knees. If you’re experiencing significant knee pain, you should consider switching to more low-impact exercises or sports, such as using an elliptical trainer or swimming.
Knee Pain Treatments
Several treatments are available for patients who experience chronic knee pain. Physical therapy is a common treatment, particularly if your pain is the result of an injury. Medications can work, too, both over-the-counter and prescription depending on the intensity of the pain.
On the invasive end of the spectrum are injections and, ultimately, surgery. Depending on the cause of your pain, injections usually are one of three types:
- Steroids that address pain and inflammation
- Hyaluronic acid to help lubricate the joints to improve mobility and reduce pain
- Platelet-rich plasma, which also reduces inflammation but is geared more towards people who have had tendon tears or sprains.
Only as a last resort option should surgery be considered. This could be surgery to repair the bones or joints, or even partial or full knee replacement.