Knee pain is one of those common forms that doesn’t discriminate; affecting people of all ages and disrupting a plethora of activities and lifestyles1Knee pain – Symptoms and causes. (2021). Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849. Interestingly, its prevalence has increased 65% over the past 20 years, according to new research2Nguyen, U. S., Zhang, Y., Zhu, Y., Niu, J., Zhang, B., & Felson, D. T. (2011). Increasing prevalence of knee pain and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: survey and cohort data. Annals of internal medicine, 155(11), 725–732. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-155-11-201112060-00004. Now, you might be wondering why this is but chances are, you already know. In the past 20 years, many things have changed in terms of the way we use our bodies or rather, lack of. We spend the majority of our days sitting in a cubicle and just as many nights lounging on our couches binge-watching Netflix. Even if you are one of the few who is up on their feet, the modern day lifestyle has drastically affected people’s posture and overall wear and tear on their joints. The good news is that, whether you already know the cause of your knee pain or are struggling with arthritis, gout or another related condition, there are many options that can get you back to living the quality life you deserve.
What is Knee Pain?
Common knowledge suggests that knee pain is, well, pain in the knee and you aren’t wrong. However, knee pain can be much more than that. It can affect the surrounding joints, ligaments and bones, and can be caused by a vast array of different things, including an injury or medical condition or what seems like no cause at all. It’s also a common complaint that affects people from all demographics. These two things combined and it can be a confusing pain to treat.
What Are The Common Causes Knee Pain?
As mentioned, the causes of knee pain can be so vast it can be difficult to sum them up in one simple article. However, there are some common categories of causes that most types of knee pain fall within.
One of the most common causes of knee pain is the result of an injury. This can be something as simple as a slip and fall, or a more serious injury such as torn cartilage or a ruptured ligament. Some of the more common knee injuries are related to an ACL injury, a fracture, torn meniscus, knee bursitis and patella tendinitis3Knee injuries – Better Health Channel. Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/knee-injuries.
Knee pain can also be caused by medical conditions, such as infections, arthritis, gout or other related conditions. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but the most common ones that are likely to cause knee pain are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudogout, septic and arthritis4Knee pain: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2020). Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003187.htm.
It can also be the natural aging process or the result of repeated stress on the knee. Mechanical problems, such as a dislocated kneecap or hip and foot pain can also contribute to knee pain.
As such, it’s highly recommended to seek medical attention to receive a proper diagnosis of your knee pain so you can receive the proper treatment needed.
Common Risk Factors for Knee Problems
Perhaps you don’t have a medical condition, mechanical problem or injury-related cause, but are still experiencing agonizing knee pain. Or maybe you do but find that your pain is more severe on certain days, weeks or months. There are a variety of risk factors that can increase your chances of having knee problems and/or the severity of the pain experienced. These include:
- Being overweight increases the stress on your knee joints, which can be ordinary activities, such as walking or standing, difficult on your knees. It can also increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Lack of strength or flexibility can increase your risk of experiencing a knee injury, as strong knee muscles and flexibility are needed to help stabilize and protect your joints.
- Certain occupations and activities can make you more prone to experiencing knee pain due to the greater stress they put on your knees. For example, jobs that require you to put repetitive stress on your knees or sports that are more prone to falls, jumps and pivots can increase your chances of knee pain.
- Previous knee injuries make you more likely to re-injure your knee or experience knee pain.
What Are The Treatment Options for Knee Pain?
Enough about the causes and risk factors, let’s get into the different treatment options available for knee pain. There are many types available, with most depending on the specific cause of your knee pain. For example, if your knee pain is caused by excessive weight, you’d likely benefit more from lifestyle and diet changes than physical therapy, whereas someone with an injury would benefit more from the physical therapy option. Though, it’s good to know what the different options are so you can narrow in on the best one for you specifically.
- Medications are commonly used to help ease knee pain of all sorts. However, these medications often come with a list of potential side effects and are often designed to soothe your symptoms instead of healing the problem causing them in the first place.
- Physical Therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for knee pain that is designed to heal, repeat and strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee for effective treatment. These consist of different strengthening and stretching exercises
- Braces can be used to help support the knee and shift pressure away from the side of the knee that is being most affected.
- Injections are another medical option where the doctor injects medication or other substances into your joint for pain relief. The most common forms of injections for knee pain are corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid, and platelet-rich plasma.
- Surgery is sometimes necessary in order for the knee to be repaired or at the very least, improved. There are many different types of surgeries for knees depending on the specific problem you’re dealing with. However, the most common ones are arthroscopic surgery (repair knee joint), partial knee replacement surgery, total knee replacement surgery and osteotomy (removing bone to align the knee).
Natural Treatments and Remedies for Knee Pain
You don’t have to go the conventional route when it comes to treating your knee pain, as there are many natural treatments and remedies that can provide you with effective relief and healing. Here are some ways you can begin treating your knee pain at home:
- Rubbing magnesium lotion on your knees for natural pain relief
- Using a numbing agent on the affected knee
- Taking a break from normal activities to provide your knee with a break from repetitive strain can give your knee all it needs to heal
- Hot and cold therapies can be done at home and can effectively soothe pain and reduce inflammation. Grab an ice pack and place it on the affected area for 20 minutes, run a warm bath with a sprinkle of Epsom salt, use a heat pad or switch between the three
- Compression bandages can help prevent fluid buildup while also helping maintain proper knee alignment, balance and stability
- Prop your knee up to reduce swelling
- Acupuncture can help relief knee pain and improve the movement, particularly if your knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis
- Lay on an acupressure mat or use an acupressure massager to promote healing in your affected knee
Knee pain can be excruciating to deal with, and on a physical, emotional and mental health level. With proper treatment, you can tackle the pain at the root cause to get yourself back up and on your feet, pain-free. There are many online programs that can teach you how to do just that, with pre-made programs designed to help align, strengthen and improve your knee and the surrounding areas.
- 1Knee pain – Symptoms and causes. (2021). Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849
- 2Nguyen, U. S., Zhang, Y., Zhu, Y., Niu, J., Zhang, B., & Felson, D. T. (2011). Increasing prevalence of knee pain and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: survey and cohort data. Annals of internal medicine, 155(11), 725–732. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-155-11-201112060-00004
- 3Knee injuries – Better Health Channel. Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/knee-injuries
- 4Knee pain: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2020). Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003187.htm