Knee Pain: 7 steps to promote healing

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Shit Happens! Knee Pain Happens!

Covid-19 has changed my lifestyle, and along with this change came some knee pain.  Yes, it sucks….but because I understand that it was not an acute injury, I can hopefully fix the condition as quickly as it came.

Knee pain is a common condition that can be caused by both short-term and long-term problems.

Many short-term knee problems do not need any help from doctors and people can often help with their own recovery.   That is what this article will focus on.

First, understand your knee is telling you something through the pain.

It may be saying, “I am overworked”.  It may be saying “I do not like the support your shoes are giving me“; it may be saying “your muscles are too tight and not moving me correctly.

Since we are unsure what it is telling you, we are going to try everything… SO this is where you need to start.

1. Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (PRICE)

Use compression
Use compression to support the knee and relieve pain.

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation may help treat mild knee pain that results from a soft tissue injury, such as a sprain.

Protection refers to protecting the knee from further injury, for example, by taking a break from the activity that caused it.

Rest can reduce the risk of further injury and give tissues time to heal. However, stopping all movement is not advisable, as this can lead to stiffness and, in time, muscle weakness.

Ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation. It should be wrapped in a cloth and applied for 20 minutes several times on the first day of injury. Never put ice directly the skin, as this can lead to further damage.

Compression with a knee support, for example, can increase comfort levels. The support or bandage should be firm but not tight.

Elevation, or keeping the leg raised, will encourage circulation and reduce swelling. Ideally, the knee should be above the level of the heart.

 

 

2. Foam Roll and Massage.

Massage, including self-massage, may relieve knee pain.  Start massaging the area around the knee, then work on the entire lower body.

These should be done in a seated position with the knees pointing forward and the feet flat on the floor.

  1. Loosely closing the hands into fists, tap the upper, lower, and middle thigh 10 times with both hands. Repeat three times.
  2. Sitting with the feet flat on the floor, place the heel of the hand on the top of the thigh and glide it as far as the knee, then release. Repeat five times. Do the same for the outer and inner sides of the thigh.
  3. Press four fingers into the knee tissue and move up and down five times. Repeat all around the knee.
  4. Place the palm of the hand on top of the thigh, glide it down the thigh, over the knee and back up the outer thigh.

Massaging the thigh muscles will have a beneficial impact on the knee.

Next move to the entire lower body.  Any muscle can be leading to joint pain.

lower body foam rolling

 

3. Posture and Support…..

“I had heal pain for the past few weeks.  Finally I bought arch supports, which immediately made my heal feel better. 2 days later threw my back out.  So always be aware of how influential your gait patterns are on your body”

It may be you are standing longer, sitting longer or an increase/decrease in exercise

  • Wearing new pair off shoes and throw off your entire gait.  When this happens, your knee tell you .  Wearing supportive shoes and avoiding those with broken arches, as they can result in abnormal force and wear on the knee.
  • Try arch supports and rolling your arches with lacrosse ball.
  • avoiding prolonged sitting and long periods without moving, as joints may become stiff and painful without movement.
  • Checking that you have a good sitting posture, without slouching or leaning

4. Strengthening exercises

Rest isn’t always the solution to pain.  Sometimes weak muscles caused by neglect or be the cause.  Individuals can work with a strength coach or physical therapist to identify the best exercises and programs for their needs.

Strengthening the upper leg muscles—the quadriceps muscles—through exercise can help to protect the knee joint. These muscles are at the sides and front of the thighs.

I recommend start with isometric movement such as bridges and wall sits.  There is no movement of the joint and therefore will not induce inflammation if the joint is damaged.  also exercise such as straight leg raises (straighten and raise a leg while lying or sitting down), or Fire hydrants are also great places to start.

5. Medications

I will add this because drugs work and if we are looking at short term solutions….why not

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and other medications can help with knee pain caused by arthritis. Some of these need to be given in a doctor’s office, but some can be used at home, either with or without a prescription.

Medications that may help manage pain include:

  • oral or topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • topical creams such as capsaicin
  • steroid injections into the joint
  • Acetaminophen or other over -the-counter meds such as NSAIDs ibuprofen and naproxen.

 

6. Heat and Cold Combo:

Be careful!!! Heat works to relax a muscle, but I do not recommend putting heat on a joint.  So this is what I would try.

Heat relaxes muscles and improves lubrication, leading to a reduction in stiffness. Use a hot water bottle or a warm pad on the muscles such as the quads, hamstrings and calves.  This may relax the pull on the knee joint.

Then use Ice, wrapped in a cloth, or an ice bath if you can deal with it.  This will reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

Some people may use heat to improve mobility in the morning and then ice to reduce swelling later in the day.

 

7. Acupuncture

In 2017, a study involving 570 people found evidence that acupuncture might help people with knee pain.

I am not an expert on Acupuncture, but it has helped me in that past, so I know it helps.  To my knowledge, this is what it does is releasing tension in a muscle, which can lead to decreased pull on a joint such as the knee.

Good luck!

 

 

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