Knee pain can have a large effect on you, whether it interferes with your mobility or not. Knees are a large and important joint, and joint pain will have a great deal of effect.
However, if your knee injury also causes a lessening in flexibility, it will also have a large effect on your mobility above and beyond the effect pain might have on your knee.
The causes of knee pain are often from injury, but there are also causes of pain from other causes as well. It can be brought on by physiological issues and arthritis as well.
There are several different injuries that can cause knee pain. Again, the knee is a major joint and therefore has a role in many different kinds of movement.
This not only makes it easy to injure, but, as we’ve already mentioned, it also makes knee pain and stiffness a serious issue.
The injuries that can affect knees are injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), torn meniscus, bursitis, and patellar tendinitis. The ACL is one of four ligaments that connect shinbone to thigh.
The meniscus is the cartilage that absorbs shock between the thigh and shinbone.
Injuries can inflammation in the bursae, the sacs of fluid that smooth the movement of tendons and ligaments over bones in the knee.
Finally, the patella is the kneecap, and tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons that pass over this bone.
You may or may not have heard of the R.I.C.E. method of pain relief. This stands for “rest, ice, compression, elevation.” It is commonly used for running injuries, which commonly affect the knee. Whatever the cause of your injury, this approach is a good first step.
The first thing to do when injury occurs, which you may do just by instinct, is to immediately stop what you’re doing, and rest your joint. Lie down and put your feet up. Pamper yourself, and place a pillow under your knee.
Apply ice or cold to prevent swelling. The cold temperature will constrict blood vessels and inhibit swelling and inflammation. Keep the pack on for ten or twenty minutes, three times a day.
After 48 hours, hopefully your application of cold will have done its job of discouraging swelling, and you can start applying moist heat instead.
You should also start doing some mild exercise to encourage circulation and flexibility in the joint.
The “C” in R.I.C.E. stands for compression. This means that you need to wrap the joint. This is usually done with an elastic bandage like a Tensor bandage or Ace wrap.
Make sure not to wrap too tightly, since this can also cause more swelling.
If there is numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness or swelling below the bandage, then it’s been wrapped too tightly.
It’s also important to realize that this compression will not stabilize or support your joint. In practical terms, it just means that compression shouldn’t make you careless about using your knee.
While you are resting, make sure to elevate your knee. Continue doing this after your initial rest, and anytime you are sitting or lying down, it will be worthwhile to keep the joint above the level of your heart. Like ice, this limits blood flow and therefore inflammation and swelling in the area.
It is important that after your initial rest, you start to gently get the joint moving again, so that you can maintain and encourage flexibility in the joint.
However, it is also very important that you are careful to make this gentle, since you don’t want to be injuring the joint further through the exercises you choose.
Lie on your back in a doorway, with one leg through the open door.
Slide your leg up the wall to straighten your knee. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg. Hold the stretch for at least 1 minute. Do this 2 to 4 times with each leg. Slowly work up to holding the stretch for six minutes on each side.
Knee to Chest
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Bring one knee to your chest, and keep your foot flat on the floor. If it’s comfortable, you can increase your stretch by keeping your whole leg stretched out on the floor. Just make sure that, whichever position you take, you can still press your back into the floor. Hold the position for between 15 and 30 seconds. Do this 2 to 4 times on each leg.
There are several over-the-counter painkillers that you can take, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. The most important of these is ibuprofen, but it also includes aspirin. You will just need to be careful using aspirin with children under the age of 18.
You can also use Tylenol or other forms of acetaminophen. Just be careful with any of these drugs to make sure you read and follow the label for dosage. While acetaminophen is very safe, it is extremely easy to take too much, especially if you are in ongoing pain.
Other things you can do are use a cane or crutch in your opposite hand to ensure you don’t put more stress on the joint. You can also use two crutches and just use one leg to move forward. You can buy canes and crutches from pharmacies or medical supply stores.
Gently massage the joint to relieve pain and stiffness in the area. However, if this causes any pain, refrain from doing it.
While you need to exercise the joint, refrain from doing any high-impact exercises that involve bouncing or rapid changes in direction.
Symptoms to watch for
Call a doctor if you notice any signs of infection or if your knee remains swollen after 48 hours. Causes for concern also include if your knee, leg or foot becomes pale and cool to the touch. It’s important that you recognize when home treatment has run the course and it’s time to call a health care professional.
“Knee Pain and Exercise.” The Knee.com. http://www.theknee.com/knee-pain-exercises/exercises-for-knee-pain.
“Knee Problems and Injuries – Home Treatment.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/knee-pain/knee-problems-and-injuries-home-treatment.
“Diseases and Conditions—Knee Pain: Causes.” by Mayo clinic Staff. Mayoclinic.org.