Too many people know all too well:
Knee pain can be a major burden. It can lower quality of life substantially.
If you are one of the many adults suffering from Osteoarthritis (OA) in your knees, it can be hard not to know it. OA, also called degenerative joint disease or wear and tear arthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
Affecting an estimated 27 million Americans, osteoarthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, pain, and sometimes swelling.
If you have a bum knee due to injury or overuse, you already knew that.
Luckily, there are simple solutions that can be quite effective for most who suffer from this most common form of knee pain.
However, the proper focus for many should instead be to:
Stop Causing Your Own Knee Pain
It is true that osteoarthritis is most often caused by accumulated strain or prior injury. It is also true that some people are genetically predisposed to joint degeneration.
But the symptoms of OA are often magnified by the lifestyle choices of its sufferers.
If you really want to stop knee pain, live healthy!
That means you need to get enough sleep. Eat the right foods. Get exercise. And maintain a healthy body weight.
Obviously, do what you can to cut back on activities that you know cause your pain to flair up. If your occupation requires high strain, either look for a new one or look into ongoing physical therapy.
And please, make wise footwear decisions. Athletic shoes need to be replaced every few months to a year depending on the use they get. And any woman with knee problems should avoid high heels altogether.
Still, you can make all the best decisions and suffer from chronic knee pain anyway.
If you are already doing everything in your power not to cause your own knee pain, it is probably time to start looking into other solutions.
Lets start with something you can do from home that does not cost anything but time.
Knee Pain Solution 1: Low Impact Calisthenics
Yep. Stretching and Exercise.
But not just any stretching and exercise. When you suffer from knee pain, you need to be strategic with your physical activity.
If you can manage, low-stress activities such as walking and swimming are great for joint pain throughout your lower body.
But if even these are difficult, there are a few different exercises that you do that can impact knee pain indirectly.
Very often, extra strain on joints comes from a lack of support from surrounding muscles. Or it might be the result of inflexibility. Further still, it could simply be a matter of posture.
There are basically 4 areas where increasing your fitness level can help to alleviate knee pain:
Strengthen Your Quadriceps
From quads provide more support for your knee than any other muscle or group. Strengthening them helps to increase joint stability.
Strengthen Your Butt
When your gluteus maximus is weak, the pelvis drops and the upper thigh bone falls inward. This creates undue stress hips, knees, and ankles.
Strengthen Your Core
A stronger core helps your spine maintain a more natural curvature. This keeps your knees from incurring undue stress from poor posture.
Increase Calf and Hamstring Flexibility
Tightness in the hamstrings and calves can contribute to knee pain. Stretching is helpful when in pain, but even more beneficial with performed regularly.
You can find tutorials for some of these low-impact, knee pain relieving exercises here
Do not expect any of these to magical, one-a-month cures. If you really want to try to decrease knee pain on a daily basis, you will need to commit to improving your fitness level everyday.
Still, you commitment might not be enough to alleviate your pain quickly or fully enough for your needs.
Knee Pain Solution 2: Reinforcement with Knee Braces
Do not be afraid to provide your body with a little extra support.
Bracing your knee is one of the best ways to reduce pain, especially during physical activity. They also help to prevent injury.
Braces come in several varieties.
Some, like our Spiral Knee Compression Sleeve, have an opening around the patella to help with tracking support. This sends proprioceptive signals to your brain. These signals keep your body at an increased level of awareness that your knee needs more support
More advanced sleeve style braces such as the Bauerfeind GenuTrain® A3 Knee Support take it step further by including viscoelastic pads that massage the joint with every movement.
If you need a brace with more powerful pain-relieving properties, you will want a brace with straps. These braces reduce pain by applying pressure to the sore tendons around the knee. This spreads relief across a greater area.
Straps above the knee take pressure of the IT band. Straps above the knee take pressure of the patella tendon. Supports like the Hely Weber Shields Knee Brace are great for runners because they allow a large range of motion while combining upper and lower straps.
And if your knee really needs protection, something like the Hely Weber Knapp Universal Hinged Knee Brace is the best option. Braces with hinges offer the best injury prevention because they can limit dangerous movements that might lead to injury.
Knee Pain Solution 3: Pain Relief and Anti-Inflammatory Medicine
For many, knee pain comes and goes.
For those who suffer from flare ups, standard painkillers are great standbys to keep on hand.
Aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen all fit the bill. (Pretty much any brand name or generic over-the-counter painkiller will fit the bill.)
With repeated use, these medicines can also reduce inflammation. This in turn can reduce stiffness, swelling, and everyday pain. Be sure to always consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Topical, all-natural creams for pain relief can be an even better option. They too, work on both pain and inflammation.
When it comes to knee pain, there is probably no medicine more well-reviewed than Penetrex - Pain Relief Cream. It is a favorite of doctors and runners alike because it offers immediate, lasting relief.
However, you do not want to rely too heavily on medication to solve all of your problems.
The fact is:
Pain is the body tells you something is wrong. By constantly medicating those signals away, will not benefit you in the long term.
Remember, it is always best to do whatever you can not to cause more knee pain. Making the right lifestyle choices in the first step to reducing knee pain.
From there, low-impact exercise, knee braces, and medication are all great ways to further reduce your daily discomfort.
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