Knee pain is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It can start in the bones, cartilage, or ligaments of your knee joint. Knee pain can also be caused from an injury, such as torn cartilage, or result from a medical condition like arthritis. Whatever the cause, The Pain Experts of Arizona are committed to helping you get back to pain-free living. Learn more about knee pain treatment approaches now or contact our team to set up your consultation.
One of the very best knee pain treatments is prevention. Getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight takes the pressure off of your knees and works to stabilize your entire body.
If you find yourself struggling with chronic or severe pain, knee pain treatments have two goals: to reduce or eliminate pain and to restore proper knee function. There are many ways to do this. The best treatment plan includes a variety of options, working together.
In the acute stages of knee pain, rest is very important. This allows your body’s healing systems to kick in and gives you a chance to metaphorically catch your breath.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s guidelines here, though. Too much rest can actually increase your pain and prolong your recovery.
2. Hot and cold therapy
Depending on the cause of your knee pain (and the symptoms), your doctor might recommend hot or cold therapy.
In general, heat loosens and relaxes tight or sore muscles. Cold reduces inflammation that is causing pain. Many people find relief with a course of hot or cold therapy while they rest.
3. Anti-inflammatory medications
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium help reduce pain caused by inflammation.
When taken as directed, NSAIDs can help you get back on your feet for additional treatments. Take these under your doctor’s guidance.
4. Physical therapy
Physical therapy for knee pain focuses on strengthening the muscles around your knee and restoring your range of motion.
Your therapist will tailor your exercises to your particular goals. They will also give you exercises to do at home to further healing.
5. Low-impact exercise
A strong body is a healthy body, but how do you exercise when your knees ache?
Swimming, walking, yoga, and tai chi are low-impact, full-body exercises that can help ease (and prevent) knee pain. Start slowly and check in with your doctor.
6. Knee braces
While you are recovering from knee pain, a brace offers additional support.
Your physical therapist or pain specialist may suggest that your wear a brace during everyday activities. A knee brace may also be helpful when you begin to incorporate more low-impact exercise.
7. Steroid joint injection
Steroid joint injections provide relief from pain and inflammation. Many patients experience months of relief that other treatments did not provide.
These can be done as a primary treatment, or in coordination with other approaches like physical therapy. Knee injections represent some of the most effective and minimally-invasive ways to relieve chronic or severe knee pain.
Surgery is generally a treatment of last resort for unresponsive pain or pain due to an acute injury (e.g., a tear or dislocation). Your doctor might recommend a full or partial knee replacement in serious situations.
Knee pain symptoms will vary, depending on the cause of your pain. If you suffer from an acute injury, as a blow to the knee or a fall, your pain might be immediate and severe. For others, pain may come on slowly and increase over time. You might find your knee pain is more extreme after long periods of inactivity or when you perform certain actions, like crouching or climbing stairs.
Common knee pain symptoms to look out for include:
Inability to fully straighten the knee
Popping or crunching sounds with movement
Warmth to the touch
Weakness or instability
Diagnosing knee pain may be as simple as getting a history of the accident or trauma that brought you to the doctor.
For other types of knee pain, the process may be more involved. Your doctor will ask for a complete medical history. They’ll also perform a physical examination, checking for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion limitations.
If a medical history and physical exam are not conclusive, your doctor may order diagnostic tests. These might include:
Computerized tomography (CT scan)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Once they have a complete picture, your doctor will typically be able to offer a diagnosis and put together a treatment plan to relieve your pain.
Acute knee pain results from an accident or injury that causes pain for a short period of time—usually less than six weeks.
Chronic knee pain lasts for longer than three months (or longer than it should, given the injury or cause). In some cases, acute knee pain left untreated can become chronic.
Our knees are hardworking, weight-bearing joints. As such, they are subject to stress and pressure throughout their lives. Some knee pain causes are a natural result of this lifetime of stress and pressure, while others are unrelated and can occur at any age.
Two of the most common knee pain causes are injury and arthritis.
Injury to the knee can include ACL injuries, fractures, dislocation, or a torn meniscus (among others)
Arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudo-gout, septic arthritis, can occur with age and wear or be disease-related
Other knee pain causes include:
Iliotibial band syndrome
Some people even experience referred knee pain. For example, an injury to another area of the body can change your walk or posture to such a degree that your knee’s alignment is thrown off. This compensation for the injury in another part of the body can cause further injury or soreness.
Although knee pain affects people of all ages, women are affected at higher rates than men. Women are also more likely to receive a total knee replacement than men.
Nearly five million people in the U.S have undergone total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and live with a knee implant.