How to manage or relieve knee pain
By Catherine Brzozowski
Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages and can make simple activities painful and uncomfortable. Pain may start suddenly, which can occur after an injury or excessive exercise, or can start slowly as a mild discomfort that worsens over time. You may not realize just how much you rely on your knees until the actual onset of pain.
The most common causes of knee pain are age related changes and arthritis, injury or excessive stresses on the knee. There are several risk factors that can contribute to knee pain which include being overweight or obesity, aging, prior knee injuries, a sedentary lifestyle, participation in certain sports and jobs that involve significant stress on the knees, such as jumping, squatting and bending.
“The knee is a complex joint consisting of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons that all work in a coordinated fashion,” said Jeffrey Vakil, MD, an orthopedic joint replacement specialist with Premier Orthopaedics at Chestnut Hill Hospital. “Any injury to these structures can lead to compromised function which can result in the development of discomfort and pain in the joint. In addition, problems with surrounding joints, such as the hips and ankles, can also result in knee discomfort and pain by altering the normal function of the extremity.”
Not all knee pain is serious, however, some knee injuries and degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, can lead to increasing pain, further joint damage and disability if left untreated. Knee injuries, even if considered minor, may contribute to further injuries in the future if not initially treated appropriately. Pain can interfere with sleep, work, social life, and simple day to day activities. Consistent pain that worsens over time can be the first symptom of degeneration of the joint and arthritis.
Simple causes of knee pain often clear up on their own with over the counter medications, rest and ice. If your knee pain is the result of an injury, you should be evaluated by a health care provider.
Following these general tips and recommendations may help prevent knee pain and injury:
It is always best to warm up prior to exercising. Prior to running, hiking or walking, stretching the muscles of your lower extremities, the quadriceps, anterior thigh muscles, the hamstrings, posterior thigh muscles, as well as the calf muscles, is important.
Start any exercise program with low impact activity such as walking, biking, hiking, and swimming.
It is important to work on weight loss. Weight loss is not only better for overall health but will relieve pressure and decrease the stresses on the hips, knees and ankles. For an overweight person, each pound of weight lost can result in three to five pounds of less weight on the knees.
Conservative treatment options for hip and knee arthritis are always the first step, followed by the consideration of joint replacement surgery in the advanced arthritic conditions. According to a study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, the number of joint replacements performed have been increasing and are projected to continue to increase exponentially in the years to come. “Hip and knee replacement have a high success rate and can provide great improvements in quality of life and help many people regain more normal day to day function,” says Dr. Vakil. “More and more people are becoming aware of these successes in joint replacement and want to have these procedures done to regain a more normal lifestyle by improving the chronic pain and disability associated with hip and knee arthritis.”
Knee pain affects people of all ages and although not all knee pain is serious, it’s important to manage your pain to prevent further injury. Connect to relief and take a step toward a life without knee pain. Learn about the anatomy of the knee, common causes of joint pain and simple steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of knee damage. Joint expert, Jeffrey Vakil, MD, will discuss effective non-surgical treatments for knee pain, as well as the latest innovative joint replacement procedures being performed at Chestnut Hill Hospital. To register for our September 15 seminar, visit: CHWellnessEvents.com.
Catherine Brzozowski is marketing and public relations director for Chestnut Hill Hospital -Tower Health