Knee pain is a common problem encountered by many people especially middle aged and elderly individuals. It has many causes, from acute injuries to complications of medical conditions, such as arthritis. Symptoms of knee injury can include pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Knee pain is generally divided into three main groups:
- Acute injuries: such as a broken bones, torn ligament, or meniscal tear
- Medical conditions: arthritis, infections
- Chronic use/overuse conditions: osteoarthritis, patellar syndromes, tendinitis, and bursitis
Make sure that you speak with your physician before carrying out the below tips to check if they are suitable for the situation you are in.
Tips to reduce or prevent your troublesome knee pain
Stop, change, or take a break from your normal activities to reduce repetitive strain on your knee, give the injury time to heal and help prevent further damage. Also, place a small pillow under your knee, when resting.
Ice reduces both pain and swelling so use ice packs to prevent or minimize inflammation. You also can use an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to protect your skin. However, use ice for less than 20 minutes at a time because of the risk of damage to your nerves and skin.
This helps prevent fluid buildup in damaged tissues and maintains knee alignment and stability. Look for a compression bandage that's lightweight, breathable and self-adhesive. It should be tight enough to support your knee without interfering with circulation.
To help reduce swelling, try propping your leg on pillows or sitting in a recliner.
Do some strengthening exercises
Muscle weakness or imbalance could be a cause for your knee pain and this is one of the first things that your doctor would look for during the physical examination. Therefore, strengthening the muscles that support your knee such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and the calf muscles is a great way to reduce or prevent your knee pain. In addition to this, it also improves your core strength which will improve you stability thus reducing the risk of injury to the knee joint.
The following exercises can be done to strengthen your leg muscles and improve your balance. Do these exercises after you warm up.
Straight leg raises – This exercise will help you to strengthen your quadriceps muscles that are your thigh muscles.
- First, lie on the floor on your back with your arms at your side.
- Place your right leg straight and the left leg bent with the left foot touching flatly on the ground.
- Now, contract the quadriceps muscles on your right leg and slowly lift your right leg up to the level of your left knee.
- While in this position, keep your right leg contracted and slowly lower this leg back to your starting position.
- Repeat the same with the opposite leg.
- Likewise, do about 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.
Once you get used to this exercise, hold your leg in the up position for about 5 seconds.
Wall sits - This simple exercise will help you to strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluts and abdominal muscles simultaneously.
- First, stand about 2 feet in front of the wall and lean on the wall.
- Slowly, bend your knees and move downwards until your thighs are parallel with the floor while keeping your abs contracted.
- Stay in this position for about 30 seconds.
Repeat the same.As you improve your strength, increase the amount of time you hold in that position.
Step ups – Step ups are another form of simple exercise that works on your quadriceps muscles, hips and gluts.
- For this exercises, you need a small bench or anything stable that you can stand up on.
- First, stand facing the bench, and place your right foot on the bench.
- Next, move your left leg up to an angle of 90 degrees without resting your left foot on the bench.
- Now, lower the left foot on the ground.
- Keep the right foot on the bench as it is.
This is one single rep. complete about 15 reps on each leg.Walking lunges
- Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and your arms by your side.
- Now, take a big step forward with the right leg and lunge until the thigh is in parallel with the ground and the back knee is close to the ground.
- Keep your upper body straight while doing this.
- Now, bring your left leg forward in the same manner and repeat as above.
Do about 10 lunges and turn around and do 10 more back to the starting position.
Calf raises - This exercise will improve the strength of your calf muscles and improve the stability of your ankles which is important for proper knee alignment.
- First, lift the heels of both of your feet so that you are standing on your toes.
- Then, slowly lower your heels to the initial position.
- Repeat the process about 10 to 15 times and do 3 rounds of it.
Gradually increase your training instead of increasing it too quickly
Knee pain is common among runners who increase their speed and mileage too much too quickly. Exercising too much too soon is one of the major reasons for knee injury and therefore, knee pain.
Increasing your training gradually and following the 10 percent rule, you can avoid such injuries. The 10 percent rule states that you should increase your speed and mileage, each by only 10% each week; not more than 10%.
Wear suitable footwear
Select suitable sport shoes or use orthotics to help to control excess ankle motions.
Use a kinesiology tape to improve the stability of your knee
A kinesiology tape is a simple and cost effective way to manage your knee pain during exercises. It is a new treatment method used in physical therapy and sports medicine.
A kinesiology tape is a flexible tape that is adhesive. It is applied to the body with the intentions of inhibiting muscle spasms and to improve the muscle contractions.
It also helps to reduce the pain you are feeling. The way it reduces your pain is not known, but one of the theories is that the kinesiology tape lifts your skin and tissues off the injured muscles, tendons and ligaments thus relieving the pain and improving the circulation to the injured part of your body.
Massage your knee joint
Massaging the area that is painful will help to reduce the pain. Massaging increases the circulation to the area as well as reduces the muscle tension.
Apply cold or hot packs to the knee joint
Applying cold or hot packs to the area of injury or pain, will help to decrease the pain and swelling for a short period of time.
Other tips specific to the knee
- Exercise to keep your knees and the knee muscles strong and flexible.
- Always warm up before sports/activities and avoid activities that strain your knees, such as deep knee bends or downhill running.
- Wear shoes with good arch supports.
- When playing contact sports, wear the right shoes.
- Replace running shoes every 300 to 500 miles (480 to 800 kilometers). Experts recommend getting new athletic shoes every 3 months or after 500 miles of wear.