Have you ever tried to endure a throbbing knee pain? If you have, then you’re aware of the desperation one feels to find relief. There are several ways to treat this problem, and not everything requires professional intervention. With a variety of causes all with its own degree of discomfort, there are different solutions to address the pain. Let’s take a quick look into your list of options!
Get up and move
While it may seem counterintuitive, movement is what your aching knee needs. However, we must also be mindful of how we go about our business without exposing ourselves to further knee pain or damage.
Movement can come in any form. It doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to do rigorous activities because even regular, leisurely walks in the neighborhood park will do. There are also certain knee exercises to help minimise knee pain and retain knee function. You can read about it in one of our past blogs, here.
Warm and Cold Therapy
A simple and inexpensive way to achieve temporary relief from knee pain is through the application of cold and warm compress. Cold packs can minimise inflammation, swelling, and pain by reducing blood flow to the affected area. Meanwhile, heat can help tight muscles to loosen up and lubricate the joints. It can also temporarily reduce nerve activity and thus relieve pain.
It is important to know when a warm and cold compress is necessary. A general rule of thumb is to use cold therapy for acute knee injuries, inflammation, and swelling. A warm compress, on the other hand, should not be used for the first 48 hours after an injury.
Tweak your diet and lose weight
Did you know that the extra pounds can give your joints extra work to do? However, losing it can help manage long-term knee pain.
A combination of diet and exercise is an integral part of weight loss. Weight reduction is necessary for knee pain relief because it reduces joint loading and inflammation. However, it is only effective when you commit to an exercise regimen and a healthy diet.
Weight reduction is necessary for pain relief because it reduces joint loading and inflammation.
You can consult a professional to ensure that you are guided properly because wrong execution can worsen knee pain. Additionally, proper diet modification can also help you make the right food choices specific to your problem, which is not only weight loss but knee pain as well.
The P.R.I.C.E. method is a recommended treatment shortly after a knee injury, up until the first 24 to 72 hours. Here’s a quick look at the importance of each step:
Protection. This is meant to prevent further injury to the affected area. This may include supportive devices such as crutches or canes to avoid weight-bearing on the injured knee.
Rest. This is often referred to as “relative rest” because as it allows healing, it is also not so restrictive to compromise or slow down recovery.
Ice. As mentioned, the application of a cold compress to acute injuries can help reduce swelling and decrease pain.
Compression. A compression wrap, such as an elastic bandage, will apply external force to an injured tissue that will help minimise swelling.
Elevation. This helps prevent fluid to pool in the injured extremity or joint, which can worsen the pain and swelling in the affected knee.
According to Arthritis.org, a regular massage of the muscles and joints can lead to significant pain reduction in individuals. Research has supported the positive outcomes for chronic knee pain, such as osteoarthritis, with effects that are comparable to physical therapy. The soothing motions can ease pain, stiffness, and anxiety. However, you must consult your doctor to check if this is safe for you as some involve strong pressure to sensitive tissues and joints.
Acupuncture can also be used as a complementary treatment to improve joint pain. This ancient alternative medicine not only alleviates pain but also improvephysical function. However, if you are suffering from osteoarthritis, there are only certain forms that respond better to acupuncture. It may take three or more sessions before symptoms begin to improve. If you are interested in this treatment, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a licensed practitioner.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
Studies have shown that applying electric currents to certain areas of the skin can help reduce pain. It can be an adjunct treatment for arthritic patients who are in pain.
These are the type of drugs that can relieve knee pain, but not inflammation. Some analgesics are available over the counter, while others need a doctor’s prescription. They can be taken as needed or at regular intervals to manage the pain.
Corticosteroid drugs are prescribed to suppress inflammation which is the root cause of knee pain. They can be taken either by mouth, inhaler, intranasal spray, topically, or by injection. These drugs also carry serious side effects, which is why these are prescribed judiciously.
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
NSAIDs are non-narcotic pain relievers to treat pain and reduce inflammation.
Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs
These types of drugs are not pain medications, but they can reduce pain by lessening joint inflammation and tenderness. It will take a couple of months before its anti-inflammatory effects will start to kick in, until then doctors will prescribe NSAIDs or corticosteroids.
- Corticosteroids. Physicians administer these injections directly into the knee joints to reduce inflammation and apply quick pain relief.
- Hyaluronic Acid (HA). Also known as viscosupplements, these types of injections serve as lubricants for the knee. Since it is chemically similar to your natural joint fluid, it helps restore the synovial fluid composition that are present in healthy joints. HA injections are only used when corticosteroid injections fail to work.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). PRP shots use your own blood to stimulate repair in injured tissues and reduce inflammation. It blocks a certain enzyme produced when joints are injured or inflamed, thereby controlling inflammation, pain, and fever.
Cartilage injury commonly results in joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Cartilage regeneration is basically the repair or removal of frayed and tattered cartilage. While some tissues heal on their own, the cartilage needs outside corrections because it doesn’t contain blood vessels to promote self-repair.
Also referred to as joint aspiration, this treatment removes fluid within the joint space. This can relieve the swelling and pain. It is also done to establish a diagnosis.
Orthopaedic surgeons recommend knee arthroscopy if your knee pain doesn’t respond to nonsurgical interventions. It can also make knee procedures like meniscal repair, joint aspiration and cartilage regeneration less invasive.
Partial knee replacement
This knee replacement procedure only resurfaces a portion of the knee with metal or plastic components to address debilitating knee pain in people with osteoarthritis. It is a preferred treatment for younger patients because recovery is quicker and often with lesser pain.
Total knee replacement
This is a more extensive approach to resurface the knee damaged by arthritis. This can help improve severe knee pain by removing damaged parts and replacing them with an artificial joint made of plastic or metal.
While this list may not be exhaustive, it gives an idea of the potential treatments for knee joint pain. If you want a detailed evaluation, an in-person consultation would help you get a thorough assessment for a personalised treatment plan.
Book a consultation with Harvard-trained fellow, Dr. Andrew Quoc Dutton, today.