Does this sound familiar? You sit in your office chair all day, and the moment you get up to move, your knees don’t just feel stiff; they feel downright painful. It seems like knee pain is getting you down.
While it may not feel excruciating and may subside given time, a bit of movement, or some T.L.C., frequent knee pain impacts about 25% of adults. It’s a common problem for many, both young and old. You might be wondering why your knee hurts so much in the first place.
The knee joint is very complex, containing various ligaments, menisci, tendons, and more. When you’re injured, and the root of your pain is obvious, it’s usually easy through diagnostic testing and imaging to identify what exactly is going on beneath the surface.
However, some of us don’t always have the funds or coverage for that (which is entirely understandable! If you do have coverage and can get a professional to take a look, this is always recommended).
Various parts of your knee can become injured or damaged. These include:
Cartilage prevents painful bone-on-bone rubbing. It allows your joints to move smoothly and provides a cushion.
Sadly, time can get the best of this structure. Cartilage, especially at the knee, can become worn down with wear and tear, resulting in degeneration or osteoarthritis.
These guys help absorb the shock from walking, jumping, and other actions. They act as a cushion between the tibia and femur. Each knee contains two menisci.
Ligaments hold your bones together throughout your body. They provide stability and support. When the knee is pushed beyond its usual range of motion, these ligaments can stretch or tear, resulting in pain.
Tendons are similar to ligaments, but they attach muscle to bone. This allows for movement. Similar to ligaments, tendons can become torn or stretched.
Usually, chronic or frequent knee pain is due to osteoarthritis, the natural degeneration of cartilage over time, or from a persistent injury that just won’t quit.
Either way, you want to take the proper care.
So, what can you do?
The following tips can hopefully provide you with methods for knee pain relief.
In no way should the following tips or pieces of advice replace any recommendations made by your healthcare provider. It’s always best to follow their instructions since they know you and your situation best.
Tip #1: Use R.I.C.E
When pain initially happens, use the suitable ol’ first aid method R.I.C.E.
R.I.C.E. stands for:
The first thing to do is rest your knee and ice it.
Place a cloth between the ice and your skin. Leave the ice on for about 15 minutes, and aim to do this frequently throughout your day, with about 45 minutes in between ice applications.
Compression may also be suitable for some since wraps or bandages can help prevent blood flow or fluid from piling into the area, and thus, it can help prevent swelling. You may also want to consider elevating your knee to reduce any swelling or inflammation.
Tip #2: Move Frequently Throughout Your Day
Is your knee pain only present after sitting or not moving for long durations of time? Take this tip and run with it (although not in a literal way if your knee hurts)!
Aim to get up from your desk, stretch, and move at least every 1-2 hours. Doing this can get the blood and nutrients flowing, giving your knee what it needs to stay healthy and pain-free.
Tip #3: Strengthen the Muscles Around Your Knee
Exercises for strengthening your knees and stretches for the knees are always a good idea, even if you don’t have knee pain. This can prevent pain from occurring down the road.
It’s essential to make sure your pain is tolerable when putting this tip into action. Exercises should not cause or further aggravate your pain. Good practices for strengthening your knees include:
- Hamstring curls
- Squats (try wall squats if these are too difficult).
- Leg presses (using a machine).
- Sitting quad leg lifts
Tip #4: Maintain an Overall Healthy Lifestyle
Interestingly, excess weight can place pressure on your knees leading to knee pain. Further, nutritional deficiencies can impact the bone, cartilage, muscle, and nerves in your body, leading to pain.
I focusing on your overall health is so important.
Ensure you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet, get a good amount of physical activity each day and week, and strive to maintain a healthy weight that makes sense for you and your body.
Tip #5: Know When to Seek Help
If the pain is frequent or constant for 7-14 days, it may be time to consider professional intervention. Consider booking an appointment with your physical therapist or doctor to rule out any severe or unmanageable injury.
Add padding if you have to sit on your knees or perform an exercise using the knees. You can also use an exercise ball in some situations, such as the all-four positions, to support your body weight and take the stress of your knees. Doing this cuts your knees a break and won’t leave you in pain afterward.
Don’t Let Knee Pain Hold You Back.
Yes, knee pain is less than ideal, but it doesn’t need to stand in the way of enjoying your life. Take our tips (and any offered by healthcare professionals who know you and your situation) and begin working towards a more pain-free life.
Lastly, listen to your body.
Take breaks when needed, and don’t push through your knee pain. It’s not worth it, and it might only lead to worse situations down the road. You got this!