Knee pain is one of the most common aches and pains. According to studies, around a quarter of people will get it at some point in their lives.
Most cases of knee pains are injuries from overuse, or from poor preparation for exercise. The problems usually go away after some rest, and sporting activities can resume after the pain subsides.
Common symptoms of knee pain:
- A dull ache that starts gradually, and is linked to activities
- Clicking or other sounds from the knee
- Pain worsens when going upstairs, or when getting up after a long time sitting, squatting down, or kneeling
- A weakness in the legs or painful locking
- Occasional swelling
Recommended treatments for knee pain:
- Stopping all activities that aggravate the knee until it is resolved
- Applying ice when the knee is painful
- Identifying any recent changes in your lifestyle either internal (e.g. if you gained weight) or external (e.g. wearing different shoes) and try to reverse these changes
- Stretching out various muscles in your legs, and hold for 30 seconds. Try not to elicit your pain but simply ‘stretch’ it
- Using strengthening exercises
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Taking natural pain relievers with no side effects such as lavender, rosemary, or peppermint essential oils
How to prevent knee pains
- Remember that in general knee pain is an overuse injury so try to vary the stresses you apply to your knee. For example, if you are training for a marathon, mix up your routes – don’t always run over hills.
- Keep the muscles in your legs as flexible as possible by regular stretching. Some good stretches include quadricep, hamstring, and calf stretches.
- Keep the muscles in your legs in good condition by regular strengthening. Some good exercises include wall slides, hamstring curls, and straight leg raises.
- Wear well-fitted, comfortable and appropriate footwear when doing sporting activities such as running
When to see a doctor
When knee pains are caused by sudden trauma, such as from a road accident or a fall, you may need immediate medical attention.
For other cases of knee pain, a doctor will need to examine the problem if it:
- Causes considerable pain or swelling
- Involves red, tender, warm, and swollen joints
- Persists for a long time
- Gets progressively worse
- Disrupts daily activities
If knee pains are persistent, involve other joints, and result in other symptoms such as morning stiffness, it could be rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors can prescribe drugs for both the disease itself and the pain it causes.
If a swollen knee feels very hot and painful, and results in other symptoms of feeling unwell, the knee could be infected. This is dangerous and needs urgent hospital treatment.
Most synthetic drugs have adverse side effects. Therefore, if you are currently treating knee pains with doctor prescribed drugs, please monitor your overall health and continue to seek medical attention is problems worsen.
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