The Best Treatments for Sore Knees
June 12th, 2018
Chronic Knee Pain
What help knee joint pain? Well, many people deal with chronic knee pain all across the world. In the United States, knee pain is the second most common cause of chronic pain. One third of Americans report experiencing some kind of knee pain over the course of their lives.1 Knee pain affects much of the workforce; Between 15-20% of all men reported knee pain and just over 20% of all women reported knee pain. The knee is an extremely complex joint comprised of several muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. This is why there are so many different types of knee pain and why it can be tricky to treat.
There are many different causes of knee pain. Some are degenerative diseases like arthritis, autoimmune diseases like Lupus, and improper technique when exercising, which can cause both temporary and lasting injury. There are also some forms of exercise, like running, which can cause knee joint pain both immediately and later in life, that are just naturally hard on the knee joint. The repetitive motion and high impact from running wears away at the cartilage in the knee joint. Eventually, the connective tissue wears very thin, and there is not enough to keep your bones from rubbing together, which causes knee joint pain. Once there is extensive soft tissue erosion, your sore knees are likely to become chronic knee pain.
Many people turn to medical or surgical intervention for assistance with their sore knees. Many people also take a more holistic route: Physical therapy and supplements. Both have their benefits, although medical intervention usually involves many more side effects. Treating chronic knee pain with the help of a physical therapist can often be more effective and more rewarding than medical or surgical intervention, so it’s worth considering before choosing knee surgery. Strengthening the muscles that support the knee joint as well as creating a larger range of motion for the complex soft tissue structure will ultimately decrease chronic knee pain. While pain from a totally arthritic knee is not likely to be fully alleviated with exercise therapy, it can decrease. It will also help with other everyday tasks that really rely on knee strength, such as walking, climbing steps, and even just standing up. Physical therapy also has a role in surgery as well; Physical therapy is one of the most important steps to recovery after knee surgery in addition to being an effective method to treat chronic knee pain. 2
Chronic knee pain is usually also very different from athletic knee pain, both in sensation and severity, as well as treatment methods. Chronic knee pain is often treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. These include Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs, like Ibuprofen and Naproxen, which are the most common treatment method for chronic knee pain, as well as knee pain when walking. They are also very commonly prescribed for knee joint pain associated with athletic injuries, like sprains and strains. For chronic knee pain, biologic drugs, which reduce inflammation by working with your immune system. These include drugs like Humira, Orencia, and Rituxan. 3
These medications can be greatly useful in treating chronic knee pain. However, the side effects of NSAID pain relievers are well known, the most common being stomach and other GI bleeding, as well as ulcers. While these are very serious risks and should not be taken lightly, they are known and can be monitored for effectively with regular screening. It’s a very old tried and true kind of medicine. The side effects from biologic treatments like Humira are across a much wider spectrum and are not as well known or understood as that of NSAID pain relievers. Choosing whether or not to use a biologic with your doctor should be a very carefully thought out decision.
There are also options for natural pain relief for your sore knees. Is fish oil good for knee pain? Omega3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. They have also been shown to help improve the quality of life of the vast majority of its users. It offers assistance with a whole variety of medical conditions that cause inflammation in the body. Omega3 fatty acids help relieve your knee joint pain while also promoting better joint health in general, as well as a whole host of other benefits. Just as a bonus, Omega3 has also been proven to improve heart health and decrease the risk of heart attack.
As we get older, both our joints and our hearts become more and more important to take care of. Adding Omega3 to your diet as well as taking Omega supplements can provide you with natural pain relief. They also boost the effectiveness of NSAID pain relievers, which can help you to take less. Taking less NSAIDs over a long period of time reduces the risk of developing an ulcer. Again, even in small doses, if you intend to use NSAID pain relievers for a long time, consult with your doctor so you can be properly monitored for warning signs of an ulcer or other digestive problems, and even certain cancers caused by prolonged NSAID use.
There are many things to consider, such as family history, proneness to infection, and medical history of certain diseases or cancers. Biological treatments have been shown to cause new cancers, as well as cause problems with old cancer. There is also a long list of common side effects such as nausea, dizziness, rash, hives, weight gain, pain and swelling at the injection sight, and increased susceptibility to new infections, which are more difficult to fight off while taking biologics. Biological treatments have their place in the treatment of chronic knee pain, but it is important you give your physician all of the information you know, and carefully consider the treatment with the help of your doctor.
Knee pain when walking and running is reported in many athletes. Even younger athletes commonly suffer from sore knees. There are many causes for runner’s knee, and the most common by far is overuse. The knee joint takes a lot of impact when running, and so there is often a lot of wear and tear, swelling, and knee joint pain. Other exercises like lunges, squats, and other plyometric exercises that involve repetitive bending of the knee can result in a lot of pain and swelling. Some other causes for runner’s knee besides overuse include malalignment of the bones in the lower body, problems with the feet, or weak thigh muscles, or pre-existing conditions like Chondromalacia Patella, which causes a natural breakdown of the kneecap. 4
Much of the time, the pain associated with runner’s knee is in the front of the knee, under the kneecap. However, there may also be pain around or behind the knee. It shares a few traits with osteoarthritis in the knee, mainly swelling. The pain also occurs with a lot of the same activities: Walking, running, squatting, kneeling, and even just standing up from the seated position. It also is often worse when you walk at any kind of incline, especially a downward incline. However, with runner’s knee, a lot of the time the best response to pain is to rest the knee and ice it. Elevation and wrapping the knee will also help the swelling to go down.
You can also take NSAID pain relievers for a short-term period. If you need to take NSAID pain relievers any longer than 2 weeks, you should see a doctor and talk to him about properly monitoring your NSAID intake to prevent an ulcer. Also, if your sore knees persist that long, it is probably a good idea to visit a doctor to find a more comprehensive long-term solution. Arch support and orthotic shoes can also be a great help for runner’s knee, so you might even want to consider a visit to a podiatrist. Strengthening the muscles, especially in the quadriceps also helps to alleviate the pain by helping to take more of the weight off the knee and place it on the surrounding muscles that support it.
Sore Knees from Osteoarthritis
Treating knee pain from osteoarthritis involves of a series of modifications to your daily life if you choose not to undergo surgical intervention. Knee replacement surgery can help alleviate the pain pretty immediately, but is an extremely major surgery that only restores partial function. It also requires a tremendous amount of physical therapy. Doing the physical therapy before you opt for surgical intervention can help you figure out if surgery is totally necessary. Early treatment can also make a big difference, since osteoarthritis is a progressive and degenerative disease. Intervening with physical therapy and exercise as soon as any knee pain shows up will likely prove to pay off in the long run. This improves the odds of preserving the joint for the longest amount of time possible, which may allow you to hold off on knee replacement surgery. 5
Small modifications make a big difference for your osteoarthritis knee pain. Physical therapy and exercise to increase the strength of the quadriceps help to alleviate knee joint pain by taking pressure and weight off of the knee, bearing more of it with the muscle. There are also a variety of stretches to be done for the same muscles, the quads, that can help alleviate knee pain when walking or standing up. Also, chairs that assist in helping you stand may also be a good way to go in helping you reduce your knee pain when standing.
Exercise is important, but certain types of exercise do more harm than good. Jogging or tennis are very high-impact sports that require the knee joint to absorb quite a lot of shock when the foot meets the ground. Replacing these activities with something like swimming or cycling, both of which have much lower impact on the knee joint, can definitely reduce knee pain when walking as well as chronic knee pain. Also, while we cannot stress enough the importance of exercise, the right kind of exercise done the right way is the only way it is helpful. You need to take periodic rests when walking or performing many daily activities to allow the joint not to become overworked. Also, when there is a lot of pain, it is generally not a good idea to continue in spite of it. Rest the knee, and hopefully the knee joint pain will subside. If your sore knees last 2-4 days and don’t improve with rest, see your doctor. There may be something else going on.
Both sore knees from athletic exertion as well as chronic knee pain are complex problems which require comprehensive attention. Since there are so many causes of knee pain, one can not look at a totally lateral approach to treatment; it has to be much more comprehensive. Don’t try and treat it yourself, especially if it is a consistent problem. Talk to your doctor, and maybe begin work with a physical therapist. Start making small changes in your life that will help reduce the impact made on your knees, and overall, your joints will thank you in the long run, and may even be spared surgery. There are many ways to treat chronic knee pain. Make sure to explore all your options with your physician and make the best choice for you.
1 Knee Pain Statistics and Causes -- Classic Rehabilitation
2 Physical Therapy For Your Knee -- Web MD
3 Biological Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis -- Healthline
4 Runner’s Knee: What You Need To Know -- Web MD
5 Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment -- Arthritis-Health