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The knee joint is the largest joint in our body and is continuously under tremendous physical stress during the day bearing all our body weight when people are standing, walking, running, and so on.
It is the reason that knee joint is more prone to wear and tear injuries. It is now the most commonly replaced joint. Millions of people in the US are living with pain in the knee.
The most common cause of knee pain is a condition called osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative disease, a situation in which knee joint cartridge gets eroded due to overuse, aging, trauma, and so on.
Erosion of cartridge means that bones start coming in direct contact with each other, resulting in the damage to them.
Prevalence of knee joint pain increases with age and is less common among young people. Most individuals who have knee pain may feel morning stiffness and higher pain in the first half of the day.
Amount of inflammation may vary but is present in all the cases resulting in swollen knee, knee pain when bending. Local inflammation also causes spasm of surrounding muscles.
Since it is a degeneration of knee structures that causes pain in most of the cases, knee pain is not fully reversible. However, most people can control the pain and slow down further degeneration of the knee.
Medications like anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to control knee pain. Their use may be necessary during acute pain, but over the long term, they may cause many side effects.
In more severe cases, doctors may even resort to corticosteroids, opioids, and even antidepressants. However, these drugs are far more toxic than over-the-counter pain killers.
In many cases, such aggressive therapy may do more harm than good. Although such a drug therapy may make pain bearable, it is not of much use in preventing the disease progress.
It means that in knee pain non-pharmacological means should be used along with drug therapy or even alone to control knee pain and the progress of the disease.
Don’t rest too much – It is true that rest may help in healing, but resting too much may have just an opposite effect. Over-rest may stiffen your joints, make adjoining muscles and ligaments weaker, reduce the joint fluid. It may even make bones weaker.
Don’t neglect your body weight - After all knee pain is a disease of wear and tear, it means that heavier you are, higher will be the stress on the knee joint. Many people may benefit from losing just a few kilograms of body weight. Managing body weight also helps correct metabolism, reduces the risk of diseases like diabetes, corrects levels of hormones, and helps prevent osteoporosis.
Don’t avoid walking aids - Many people feel shy using sticks or other walking aids. However, such aids help take off some stress from the joint. Walking aids also reduce the risk of falls.
Don’t ignore your shoes - They can help reduce the risk of knee injuries, consult your specialist regarding special insoles. Insoles are especially helpful when you use them with dress shoes, though they can be used in just any kind of shoes.
Don’t ignore new pain - Although knee pain is a chronic problem, from time to time, it may show signs of worsening. In the case of acute exacerbation immediately consult your doctor, prompt treatment may help minimize inflammation and help reduce the damage.
Do RICE - During periods of acute pain use RICE therapy. Where “R” means rest, it does not mean complete bed rest, but just avoid overstressing your joints. “I” stands for ice therapy, which may help reduce acute pain and inflammation. “C” is for compression; you can use special compression garments to reduce swelling. And finally, “E” stands for elevation, meaning try to keep your feet elevated to reduce total stress.
Do exercise - Well it may sound bit opposite of rest, but it is not the case. In knee pain, you need to have a good rest, but at the same time, you need to exercise. In the knee pain choice of exercises is critical; the so-called high-impact activities like running must be avoided. Prefer low-impact exercises like swimming, stretching, yoga, tai-chi, water aerobics, and so on.
Do keep it warm - Again it may sound opposite of ice therapy, but using heat or keeping warm is also necessary. Ice therapy is good during periods of acute pain. Heat therapy is better for healing, improving the range of motion, and keeping muscles relaxed.
Do take supplements - They may not do wonder, but they will help keep your joints healthy. So, take more of multivitamins, minerals (like calcium with vitamin D). omega-3s, Coq10, glucosamine, chondroitin, to name the few. Start taking supplements from the day of knee pain diagnosis as supplements need time to work.
Do take medications prescribed by the doctor - Using all the natural ways to cure your disease is good, but it does not mean not taking the prescription drugs. Drugs can help in a large number of cases, whereas natural methods, supplements, lifestyle measures can further improve the results.