You can do many things to help knee pain, whether it’s due to a recent injury or arthritis you’ve had for years.
Follow these 11 dos and don’ts to help your knees feel their best.
Don’t rest too much. Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can worsen joint pain. Find an exercise program that is safe for your knees and stick with it. If you’re not sure which motions are safe or how much you can do, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.
Do exercise. Cardio exercises strengthen the muscles that support your knee and increase flexibility. Weight training and stretching do, too. For cardio, some good choices include walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling, and elliptical machines. Tai chi may also help ease stiffness and improve balance.
Don’t risk a fall. A painful or unstable knee can make a fall more likely, which can cause more knee damage. Curb your risk of falling by making sure your home is well lit, using handrails on staircases, and using a sturdy ladder or foot stool if you need to reach something from a high shelf.
Do use “RICE.” Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.
Don’t overlook your weight. If you’re overweight, losing weight reduces the stress on your knee. You don’t even need to get to your “ideal” weight. Smaller changes still make a difference.
Don’t be shy about using a walking aid. A crutch or cane can take the stress off of your knee. Knee splints and braces can also help you stay stable.
Do consider acupuncture. This form of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves inserting fine needles at certain points on the body, is widely used to relieve many types of pain and may help knee pain.
Don’t let your shoes make matters worse. Cushioned insoles can reduce stress on your knees. For knee osteoarthritis, doctors often recommend special insoles that you put in your shoe. To find the appropriate insole, speak with your doctor or a physical therapist.
Sitting all day is terrible for your health, but so can being on your feet all the time. Whether you’ve adopted a standing desk or have a job that requires you to stand a lot, here are a few movements you can do to counteract the strain of standing.
These exercises can help with problems like sore or swollen legs and feet, tight calves, lower back pain, and so on, and should be combined with standard recommendations like wearing comfortable shoes (and perhaps also compression socks), alternating sitting with standing, and getting a good anti-fatigue mat (if possible).
- Quick Fixes
- Yoga Poses
- Desk Stretches
- Exercises for Foot and Heel Pain
- 1. Proper Support
- 2. Stretch it out
- 3. Ditch the flat flops
- 4. Take a circulation break
- 6. Epsom Salt Soak
- 5. Check your posture
- 7. Massage
- You should never stretch a swollen joint unless
- About exercise
- Why is exercise important?
- Build up your exercise gradually
- What if I am in pain when I exercise?
- Stretching exercises
- How should I do stretching exercises?
- Strengthening exercises
- How should I do strengthening exercises?
- Types of fitness exercise
- Water Aerobics
- Fitness classes
- How to Get Rid of Knee Pain (Plus, 6 Common Causes)
- 5 Tips for Preventing Knee Pain
- Avoid knee pain by improving leg muscle strength, flexibility
- 1. Don’t skip the exercise, even if you have a structural problem.
- 2. Whether you’re active or not, stretching is good for the knees.
- A well-conditioned, flexible body is less likely to develop overuse problems in the knees.
- 3. Losing weight can improve knee pain.
- 4. Wearing the proper shoes is important for healthy knees.
- 5. Stand up straight to feel better.
- Where is the Pain Coming From?
- Probe and Massage Gently for Soreness
- Take Careful Walks to Reduce Stiffness
- Take a Long Hot Bath
- Rest and Elevate the Knee
- Cold Therapy Can Reduce Joint Swelling
- Heat Therapy Can Ease Tissue Pain
- Wear a Supportive Brace
- Reduce Impacts and Weight on the Knee
- Find a Diet that Reduces Joint Pain
- Keep Your Knees Moving
- Fourteen home remedies for knee pain
- 1. Physical activity
- 2. Strengthening exercises
- 3. Posture and support
- 4. Weight loss and diet
- 5. Medications
- 6. Massage
- 7. Aromatherapy preparations
- 8. Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (PRICE)
- 9. Heat and cold
- 10. Climate
- 11. Acupuncture
- 12. Tai chi
- 13. Medical marijuana
- 14. Apple cider vinegar and other foods
- Possible Causes of Severe Knee Pain
- Pseudogout: Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition (CPPD)
- Knee Arthritis (Non-infectious Types)
- Osteonecrosis (Avascular Necrosis) of the Knee
- Tumor in the Knee
- Other Possible Causes of Severe Knee Pain
Max Shank, who taught us how to fix our computer hunch, says you can combine that thoracic bridge move with these movements (as he demonstrates above):
Lacrosse Ball: Massage your feet and restore their vitality with a quick 1-5 minute massage on the feet.
Leg up with ankle circles: Place a leg on a chair until you feel a nice hamstring stretch, then make ankle circles to help stimulate the nerves and begin the relief.
Split Squats: Take a long stance with one leg forward and the other backward. Drop straight down and touch the back knee to the floor—you should feel a nice stretch in the top of that thigh.
Dr. Melissa West recommends the “legs up the wall” move to relieve tired legs and feet and mild backache. In the video above, she also demonstrates “knee to chest” pose and the “figure four stretch.”
Those require you to lie on the ground, and they may best done at the end of the day. During the day, though, you can try other yoga poses we’ve mentioned before, including Standing Half Moon (a side-bending pose), Tree Pose (balance on one leg with the other leg at an angle on your thigh), and Standing Forward Fold.
Standing Fit offers 14 stretches and exercises you can do at a standing desk, such as the quad stretches shown above. Ignoring the oddness of the model wearing heels, here are a few more examples:
Single Leg Balance & Reach
Exercises for Foot and Heel Pain
Finally, if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, a strain on the ligament that supports your foot arch, or other kinds of foot pain, the above video offers a few stretches, which are especially good to do in the morning before you start walking. Work all of these exercises into your daily schedule and you’ll be good to go.
Teachers, nurses, retail workers or cashiers, servers, mothers, runners and anyone else who has spent a great deal of time on their feet know the toll it can take on your body. You would do anything to soothe that aching, tender feeling in our feet after a long day on them. Standing on your feet without rest for long periods of time can lead to a wide variety of issues, especially if your posture is incorrect and your shoes provide inadequate support. Standing incorrectly can cause foot, ankle, and back pain as well as overall alignment issues.
As leaders in the custom footwear industry, the team at Wiivv spends countless hours researching foot pain and shoe comfort. Here are some “save your feet” hacks we’ve put together because you deserve to feel, move, and live your best all day. We’ve got your back, and of course, your feet!
Note: Always seek professional help from a medical expert such as a podiatrist or a chiropractor before doing any exercises or self-adjustments. Your best bet is to ask for a personalized exercise/adjustment plan that takes into account all factors like age, weight, lifestyle etc.
1. Proper Support
A common cause of foot and heel pain is Plantar Fasciitis, which can be caused by excessive standing in ill-fitting or unsupportive shoes. Plantar Fasciitis (PF) is the stabbing pain you feel under the soft part of your foot and around your heel.
Heel spurs can develop if PF is left untreated. Additionally, PF pain can cause inactivity, leading to lower quality of life and diminished health. Your body will also alter your gait to adjust to the pain you are experiencing which can potentially lead to additional alignment related issues in your body.
How can I fix it? Healing PF takes time, but proper arch support is key in relieving pain and assisting the process. Custom arch support is extremely effective in distributing pressure to your feet more evenly. Wiivv offers affordable custom insoles made for you, from your phone. These insoles have been scientifically proven to help relieve pain caused by plantar fasciitis and they provide long lasting comfort by distributing pressure across your foot, reducing pronation, and stabilizing your body from the ground up.
2. Stretch it out
Regularly practicing yoga can help you to gain and maintain better posture, as well as loosen and strengthen muscles throughout your body. Ask your yoga teacher for help to make adjustments to your posture that you can apply in and after class.
Try these specific yoga poses to help loosen your muscles and relieve foot and ankle pain:
- Downward facing dog
- Runner’s Stretch
- Hero’s Pose
- Bound Angle Pose
3. Ditch the flat flops
Turns out the world’s most popular footwear is horrible for your body. Flip flops are flimsy, flat, and provide no support to your feet. This lack of support can cause a great deal of pain – that’s why when you’re walking through Disneyland or travelling in Mexico your feet are aching by the end of the day. Continued lack of support, like what you experience with flip flops, can lead to inflammation of the plantar fascia and cause plantar fasciitis. If left untreated, this will cause a great deal of pain and over time your arch can begin to flatten out.
In addition to lack of support, wearing ill-fitting flops causes “toe scrunching” in an attempt to keep them on your foot better which can trigger tendonitis. Poor fit can also cause a change in your natural stride, which often leads to ankle, knee, hip or back issues.
How can I fix it?
Make sure you choose a pair of sandals that fit properly and provide adequate support. Here’s a basic checklist for your next pair:
- Size: Your sandals should fit you properly. Your toes and heels should be fully on footbed with nothing hanging over any edge.
- Flop: Your sandals should only bend at the ball of the foot. Bending in the middle of the footbed means a flimsy shoe AKA. poor support.
- Proper Support: A sandal with custom arch support will go a long way in preventing the aforementioned problems that come with flat flip flops. Wiivv makes comfortable sandals that provide proper support because they’re made custom to you. They are designed to provide custom arch support (even unique to your own left and right feet). These sandals are made based on 200 points digitally mapped from photos taken on your phone.
4. Take a circulation break
If you spend a majority of your day on your feet and/or in a stationary position, taking posture breaks are of important to promote circulation. Varying your position during the day can help ease the strain of repetition on your foot muscles. Circulatory sluggishness caused by gravity can make you feel tired, cause headaches, strain in your back muscles and can even negatively impact your mood.
How can I fix it? Try practicing exercises to improve circulation throughout the day. Three simple ones you can try while at work are rolling a tennis ball under your feet to loosen your hamstrings and alleviate foot pain, lunges to stretch your thigh and hamstring muscles, and rotating your ankles clockwise and counterclockwise to loosen the muscles and tendons in the leg and the joint around the foot.
6. Epsom Salt Soak
Epsom salt is a natural anti-inflammatory that can aid in treating muscle aches and epsom salt soaks are great for soothing aches and pains. Fill up a foot bath or shallow bucket with warm water and half a cup of epsom salt. Add a couple drops of an essential oil of your choice and soak your feet for as long as you would like.
5. Check your posture
Poor posture can have a dramatic effect on your muscles and ligaments. It can lead to pain and injury in your heels, knees, back, feet and even difficulty with digestion and breathing. Bad posture is typically caused, and made worse by, an imbalance in strength and tension within your muscles. The muscles in your feet play a huge role in this. For example, tight calf muscles paired with weak plantar fascia can wreak havoc on your gait and foot posture (the alignment of the foot itself). This poor posture is a vicious cycle, causing the body (which naturally leans slightly forward) to tilt further forward or backward, adding additional strain to your feet and heels, and making plantar fasciitis–and posture–worse.
How can I fix it?
It’s possible to improve your posture and reduce pain from the ground up by improving the overall alignment of your feet, correct your gait, and allow your body to align and move the way it was meant to. Using custom insoles in your shoes helps to distribute pressure and loading across the entire foot, reduce ankle rotation and keep you aligned from the ground up. Wiivv insoles are digitally mapped using over 200 points to create custom arches unique to each of your feet and provide you perfect fit comfort in all of your shoes.
American Chiropractic Society also offers the following tips for correcting your posture. Practice these consciously daily and overtime the corrections will gradually replace your existing posture.
- Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
- Tuck your stomach in.
- Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
Therapeutic massage is a great way to relax and loosen the muscles in your feet. Using both hands, press your thumbs up the center line of your foot in a circular motion. Use firm but gentle pressure, spending a little extra time on any tender pressure points you find.
Rolling the arches of your bare feet with a tennis ball can also be very effective in relieving soreness and pain in your feet. Do this by slowly roll your foot from side to side so the ball crosses your arch for 1 to 2 minutes, then roll the ball along the length of your foot from heel to toe for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat on your other foot.
You should never stretch a swollen joint unless
All my life, i had been afraid of a book. an important book, in the bible. it’s called revelation. often times i’ve avoided it because i felt that it was scary and i couldn’t understand, i thought wow, this basically tells the scary part of the future, but today i realized that it’s about what’s happening now, right now. in the beginning of the book, it talks about the churches, how some churches have false teachers, or some need to repent, and i realized that this book portrays to the churches nowadays also. i know jesus is coming one day, and i know that he is light, he will prevail over the darkness and he can show you the way. all you have to do is trust and believe in him, and he will guide you the right way. i love god with all my heart, and i believe that whoever is reading this you should too! i’m sorry that i put this on brainly, it’s not a question, and it’s only a matter of minutes before this gets reported but, i wanted people to know, revelation isn’t scary, in fact it’s amazing! you for your time. i hope you accept jesus christ into your life!
The best type of exercise for you is something you enjoy and so keep doing it.
If you have arthritis it’s very important to remain active as this will improve your health and make your pain better.
Low-impact exercise is recommended for people with all types of arthritis. This is any exercise which puts less stress on your joints, and includes activities like swimming or cycling.
Doing low-impact exercise doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself. For example, people with arthritis talk about how swimming is a good way to do vigorous exercise without hurting themselves.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, or another type of inflammatory arthritis, you can continue exercising without damaging your joints or causing a flare-up of symptoms.
If you have osteoarthritis low-impact exercise is suitable, but you might need to try different activities to find the one that suits you.
You can get further advice and support about exercise from a GP, or you could ask them for referral to a physiotherapist. If you are a member of a gym, they may well have fitness instructors trained to a high standard who can give you good advice.
Why is exercise important?
Exercise that makes you out of breath and gets the heart going is very important to your overall health and fitness and is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight. Exercising will help you manage your arthritis by strengthening your muscles, easing your stiffness and improving your joint movement.
Exercise also has positive mental effects. Often you will feel much better and more self-confident when you’ve done some exercise.
Build up your exercise gradually
A good approach to exercise is to start off with small and regular amounts of activity and to gradually build up what you do. This will improve your health and fitness, and will help prevent injury as your body gets used to exercising.
To build up your exercise, try to gradually increase the following:
- frequency – how often you do it
- duration – the length of each session
- Intensity – how hard you try.
Warming up before you exercise prepares you physically and mentally and will help to prevent injuries. A good warm up will gradually increase your body temperature and heart rate, and prepare your muscles for exercise.
A warm up could include a run through of some of the movements or activity you’re about to do. For example, you could walk, cycle, jog or swim gently and gradually increase the intensity until you’re a bit out of breath. Doing some range of movement exercises, such as rotating your arms, and stretching are also good ways to warm up.
It’s also important to warm down after exercise by repeating the movements you did in your warm up. This will stop you getting stiff muscles and joints and will help to prevent cramp. Give yourself plenty of time to recover and refuel your body with suitable food and drink.
What if I am in pain when I exercise?
It’s normal for your muscles to feel a bit sore after exercise, especially if you’re not used to it, but you should stop if you have sudden or severe pain in your muscles or joints. See a doctor if the pain carries on after you’ve finished exercising.
If you’re back to normal by the next day then start again, but start slowly. If all’s well after that, gradually increase the amount you do each day.
Stretching exercises keep your joints moving properly. They are designed to help ease aches and pains by stretching the joints and muscles in your body.
They’re often simple and most of us already do some without even realising it – stretching your arms when you wake up, for example.
How should I do stretching exercises?
- Move as far as you can until you feel a stretch in the muscles around your joints.
- Hold for about 5–10 seconds, then relax.
- Repeat 5–10 times if you can.
Strengthening exercises help you to strengthen your muscles so they can support your joints. This is very important because if your muscles are weak, your joints can become unstable and painful. You probably won’t want to move much when you’re in pain, but not exercising can actually make your symptoms worse.
How should I do strengthening exercises?
Do strengthening exercises slowly. Start with a low number of repetitions and build up gradually.
You may want to try Pilates, which focuses on strengthening the muscles involved in improving posture and keeping your joints in the correct position.
If your joints are especially hot or swollen, leave the strengthening exercises until your joints settle down again. You can still do the stretching exercises, but do them gently and only do a few repetitions once a day.
We have examples of good stretching and strengthening exercises that you can do at home. These can greatly improve your symptoms. You can find these exercises at the back of our Keep Moving booklet.
Types of fitness exercise
Fitness exercises are very important to keep your heart healthy. You don’t need to join a gym or buy special equipment to exercise. It can be as simple as walking a bit further or faster than normal.
Swimming is an excellent all-round exercise for people with arthritis:
- The water supports your joints, which makes it easier to move them.
- You can strengthen muscles and exercise your heart and lungs by moving your limbs firmly against the resistance of the water.
If you have neck problems, breaststroke may make it worse. If so it’s worth checking your technique. Remember, it’s never too late to go to a swimming class if you need to.
Some sports centres offer water aerobics. It gives a good overall workout but won’t put too much stress on your joints. Check with your doctor first and go at your own pace if you feel the exercises are too fast for you.
Hydrotherapy is a set of exercises done in warm water under the supervision of a physiotherapist. It’s safe and effective for arthritis and back pain so ask your healthcare team what’s available in your area.
Walking is a simple, cheap and very effective way to exercise. Putting weight through your legs when you walk helps keep your bones as strong as possible.
Start gently and gradually increase the amount you do each time. Start by walking a few houses away and back. Time yourself and then try to improve on the time each day. Or try gradually increasing the distance or walking uphill more often.
Some people find that doing exercise in a group gives them extra motivation to keep going. It can also be a good way to meet someone with a similar level of fitness. Buddying up with this person will make exercising more fun, and you might even find that you get more out of the experience as you push and support each other to do your best.
General keep fit classes and T’ai chi are suitable for people with arthritis of all ages.
Low-impact aerobics, such as step aerobics, may be more suitable than high-impact aerobics. If you have joint pain some of the exercises may make it worse.
Yoga has also been shown to help some people with arthritis.
It would be a good idea to tell the person taking a fitness class that you have arthritis. They will be able to give you specific advice.
Cycling is very good for strengthening your knees and for general fitness. Use an exercise bike or traffic-free cycle routes if you prefer not to go out on busy roads.
If you get a lot of knee pain you may have to take it very gently to start off with. Stop if your pain gets worse after cycling.
You may find it useful to join a gym and use different equipment to strengthen muscles and get fitter. Using weights can increase pain if they’re too heavy so it’s better to use very low weights and do lots of slow, controlled repetitions.
Most gyms have fitness instructors trained to a high standard. If you tell a fitness instructor that you have arthritis they should be able to give you some good advice and maybe even a programme for you to have a go at.
Please see our exercise and sports injuries information booklet (PDF, 2.94 MB) for more information.
Because there are several types of arthritis, it’s important to know which one you have. There are some similarities between these conditions, but there are also some key differences.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is estimated that around 8.75 million people in the UK have seen a doctor about osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis starts with the roughening of cartilage.
If this happens, the body can put in place a ‘repair’ process to try to make up for the loss of this important substance. The following can then happen:
- Tiny bits of extra bone, called osteophytes, can grow at the ends of a bone within a joint.
- There can be an increase in the amount of thick fluid inside the joint.
- The joint capsule can stretch, and the joint may lose its shape.
Sometimes, the early stages of osteoarthritis can happen without causing much pain or trouble. However, it can lead to damage inside a joint, as well as pain and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis is more common in women and usually affects people from the age of 45 onwards. The parts of the body most commonly affected are the knees, hands, hips, and back.
Keeping active will help you maintain a healthy weight, and this will reduce the pressure on your joints. Doing regular exercise will keep muscles around a joint strong, and this will help to support and stabilise a joint affected by osteoarthritis.
Being overweight can make you more likely to get osteoarthritis and can make it worse.
Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen can help reduce your symptoms and allow you to stay active. Keeping active will also reduce pain, stiffness and swelling.
There are NSAID creams that you can rub into the affected area. It might be an idea to try these first.
There is a range of pain relief options available. If you’re finding the pain of osteoarthritis difficult to cope with, a doctor or physiotherapist would be able to give you specific advice.
If your osteoarthritis becomes severe, particularly in your knees and hips, your doctor might discuss with you the possibility of surgery. This is usually considered only after you’ve tried all the other treatment options.
Joint replacements are now very sophisticated and successful.
Gout and calcium crystal diseases
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.
Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.
It’s caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.
However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.
If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.
A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.
There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and febuxostat. If you’re having a gout attack, you’ll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.
Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women it’s more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.
There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.
We all need calcium to make bones and teeth strong. However, some people can have too much calcium in their bodies, which can then form as crystals around joints. This can lead to painful swelling.
Calcium crystal diseases tend to clear up on their own. Taking painkillers and NSAIDs, and applying an ice pack wrapped in a damp towel, can soothe the pain and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It is what is known as an auto-immune condition.
The immune system is the body’s natural self-defence system, and it protects us from infections and illness. When someone has an auto-immune condition, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy tissues, such as the joints, causing inflammation.
Inflammation is normally an important tool in the immune system. It occurs when the body sends extra blood and fluid to an area to fight an infection. This is what is happening for example if you have a cut that gets infected, and the skin around it becomes swollen and a different colour.
However, in rheumatoid arthritis the inflammation and extra fluid in a joint can cause the following problems:
- It can make moving the joint difficult and painful.
- Chemicals in the fluid can damage the bone and joint.
- The extra fluid can stretch the joint capsule. Whenever a joint capsule is stretched, it never quite returns to its original position.
- Chemicals in the fluid can irritate nerve endings, which can be painful.
As well as causing pain and stiffness, inflammation can cause permanent damage to a joint. Starting effective treatment early on can help to minimise damage.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include:
- swollen and tender joints
- swelling and stiffness in joints in the morning that lasts for longer than half an hour
- severe tiredness, also called fatigue
- a general feeling of being unwell.
Rheumatoid arthritis often starts in the small joints of the hands and feet, and it can affect the same joints on both sides of the body at the same time. It can start quite slowly and then gradually get worse, or it can start more aggressively.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect adults of any age. It most commonly starts among people between the ages of 40 and 60. It’s more common in women than men.
There are drugs that can slow down an over-active immune system and therefore reduce the pain and swelling in joints. These are called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and include biological therapies.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, treatment will start with conventional DMARDs. These can have the overall effect of reducing the activity of your immune system, which is overactive and causing damage to your body.
If these drugs have been tried and don’t work, doctors will look at the possibility of trying the newer biological therapies. Biological therapies have a more targeted effect on the immune system.
Spondyloarthritis is a word used to describe a number of conditions that cause pain and swelling, mainly around the joints of the spine.
In these conditions there is inflammation of small pieces of connective tissues, called entheses. These are tough little cords that join either ligaments or tendons to bones.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of spondyloarthritis and it causes pain and swelling, mainly around the joints of the spine.
In this condition, in response to inflammation around the spine, the body can create more of the mineral calcium. This mineral is normally used by the body to make bones strong. However, in ankylosing spondylitis the extra calcium can make new bits of bone grow in the spine, and this will cause pain and stiffness.
This condition typically causes pain in the second half of the night, and swelling of your back in the morning that lasts for more than half an hour.
There are drugs that can slow this process down. Keeping active will help to minimise stiffening of the spine, while maintaining a good posture will help prevent increased curving of the spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 30. It is more common among men.
Psoriatic arthritis is an auto-immune condition. It is also a type of spondyloarthritis.
The body’s immune system can cause painful swelling and stiffness within and around joints, as well as a red scaly skin rash called psoriasis. The rash can affect several places in the body, including the elbows, knees, back, buttocks and scalp.
It is also common to have severe tiredness, otherwise known as fatigue.
Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological therapies can treat the cause of the inflammation in joints. There is also a variety of treatments, such as creams and medications, for psoriasis.
Psoriatic arthritis usually affects people who already have psoriasis. However, some people develop the arthritis before the psoriasis. It’s possible to have the arthritis but no psoriasis at all.
This condition can affect people of any age, but tends to affect adults.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
If someone is diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis before their sixteenth birthday, it’s called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or JIA.
There are different types of JIA. They are auto-immune conditions, and the immune system can cause pain and swelling in joints.
The earlier someone is diagnosed with JIA, the better. This is so that effective treatment can be started and limit any damage to the body.
There are drugs that can treat the symptoms, such as painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological therapies can slow down or stop the arthritis causing the swelling inside the body.
There are about 12,000 young people in the UK who have JIA.
How to Get Rid of Knee Pain (Plus, 6 Common Causes)
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It allows your leg to bend and straighten, which is no small job. Add exercise into the mix, and it’s no surprise that there are a number of possible joint problems that can arise.
Here, Scott Weiss, a licensed physical therapist, board-certified athletic trainer, and exercise physiologist explains six common causes of knee pain along with the signs, symptoms, and tips on how to get rid of knee for each.
1. Overuse and Tendonitis
When a tendon around the knee gets irritated and inflamed from constant, repetitive use, it’ll start to hurt. The affected area will usually swell, or a lump will develop along the tendon. Another sign: The pain in the area will increase when you move or flex the knee. (Related: What to Do When Your Hip Flexors Are Sore AF)
How to get rid of knee pain: You can reduce the inflammation and consequently relieve the pain by resting and applying ice to the knee. Weiss also recommends eccentric exercises, like hamstring drops. Kneel on the floor with your feet underneath the couch to keep them in place (you should be facing away from the couch), then lean your torso toward the ground slowly.
Bad form while performing any physical act can cause both acute and chronic injuries. From walking to resistance training, proper form and technique are key to preventing stress and strain on the joints. If you normally don’t experience knee pain but begin to at some point during your workout, check your form. The knee should not cave in or go over the toe when you’re doing lunges and squats.
How to get rid of knee pain: Stretch the muscle involved and perform non-weight-bearing AROM (active range of motion) exercises. Example: Sit on a chair and raise your knee up to your chest, release, and repeat with the other knee. If pain persists, ice, rest, and revisit.
3. Cartilage Pain
When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they’re usually referring to a torn meniscus. Meniscal injuries are among the most common causes of knee pain among active people and can occur during any activity in which you forcefully twist or rotate the knee. Symptoms include clicking, popping, or snapping deep inside the knee. This usually happens from starting, stopping, and changing position fast, or simply from a sharp change in direction. It can also happen if you squat too low or get up from a chair in a weird way, says Weiss. (Related: 6 Reasons Why Your Knees Hurt When Running—Plus How to Make ‘Em Ache Less)
How to get rid of knee pain: After a suspected meniscus injury, ice it immediately. You may need to see your doctor to determine whether you need an MRI. The MRI will not only confirm a tear but will let you know if the injury needs to be treated conservatively or not. Once given the okay to exercise, strengthen and stabilize the knee with standing leg raises, hamstring curls, and heel raises. You’ll want to avoid full-knee extension type moves following an injury as they can further stress the already damaged joints.
4. Stretched Ligament
After a ligament is stretched, attenuated, or sprained, it doesn’t return to the normal shape and tightness. This makes the knee joint unstable. When you suffer a ligament injury, like that of the ACL, a huge amount of swelling can develop, causing further dysfunction. (Related: 4 Reasons You Might Have Pain Behind Your Knee)
How to get rid of knee pain: RICE is in order: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Bracing is best for this injury.
5. Muscle Pain
Straining or tearing a muscle around the knee joint will cause pain in that area and will usually call attention to a specific spot on the muscle belly or musculotendinous junction. If you pull or strain the hamstrings, groin, or quads, it will most likely cause pain around the knee.
How to get rid of knee pain: The best treatment for acute muscle pain would be cryotherapy initially, then moving toward heat and gentle stretching. (Related: Does Cryotherapy for Sore Muscle Relief Really Work?)
Over time, the cartilage that covers the long bones (called hyaline cartilage—it’s different from fibrocartilage/meniscus) gets worn away, causing pain deep in the knee. Normal wear and tear is to be expected, but when someone experiences weight fluctuations or obesity, arthritis can happen earlier and advance to a greater degree. (Related: Lady Gaga Opens Up About Suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis)
How to get rid of knee pain: The treatment of choice for any joint arthritis is heat or contrast bath, aquatic therapy, and gentle range of motion exercises (exploring the full movement potential of a joint). Avoid full extension on those ROM exercises.
5 Tips for Preventing Knee Pain
Avoid knee pain by improving leg muscle strength, flexibility
As the largest joint in your body, the knee takes on its fair share of impact. Not surprisingly, knee pain is a common complaint among people of all ages. The most common causes include inflammation caused by improper lifting of heavy objects, poor flexibility, bad shoes, muscle weakness, starting high-impact fitness routines without warming up and structural knee problems, such as arthritis, torn cartilage or ligament damage.
“People who have inflammation issues almost always respond to physical therapy, medication or rehabilitation and almost never require surgery,” says Charles Bush-Joseph, MD, a sports medicine surgeon at Rush. “But those with structural issues are more likely to need some kind of surgery or arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage.”
So how can you tell the difference between inflammation and structural problems? According to Bush-Joseph, people who are able to extend their knees straight without pain typically have less serious inflammation issues. Whereas people often have structural damage when their knees are visibly swollen or they cannot get into a squatting position with their knees at 90-degree angles.
“Knee pain can happen to anyone at any age,” says Bush-Joseph. “Usually if patient’s knees are swollen and they are in pain, I have them ice the knees, stretch and take some anti-inflammatory medications for seven to 10 days. If their knees are still visibly and persistently swollen for longer than that, that warrants further evaluation, including imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI.”
Bush-Joseph offers these five tips for preventing knee pain:
1. Don’t skip the exercise, even if you have a structural problem.
The key is to know your limits. Strength training that focuses heavily on building up muscles in the quadriceps and hamstrings can decrease pain and help people better tolerate arthritis and other structural knee problems. Staying active helps control weight and build muscle, both of which can help protect your knees from further damage.
The best exercises for people with structural knee problems include nonimpact aerobic exercises, such as walking on level ground, training on an elliptical machine, using a stationary bike, swimming and doing water aerobics. It’s also wise to avoid activities that put extra stress on the knees such as kneeling, deep knee bends and downhill running.
2. Whether you’re active or not, stretching is good for the knees.
Stretches that focus on the calf, hamstring and quadriceps muscles take pressure off of the knees and kneecaps. “Many people often say there is no aerobic value in stretching, so they see it as a waste of time,” says Bush-Joseph. “But a well-conditioned, flexible body is less likely to develop overuse problems in the knees.”
Some good stretches to protect the knees include step-ups, hamstring curls and straight-leg lifts. Additionally, stretches that focus on building flexibility in the hips, including a butterfly stretch and a standing hip flexor with a resistance band, can help alleviate knee pain.
People who do not like to stretch before a workout can still protect their knees by slowly ramping up to top speed rather than jumping full speed into their workout.
A well-conditioned, flexible body is less likely to develop overuse problems in the knees.
“Warming up the muscles helps prevent injury,” says Bush-Joseph. “If you like to run but you don’t have the time to warm-up and stretch out, you should start your run with 10 to 15 minutes of walking or slow jogging before getting up to peak velocity.”
Here’s how to do these exercises and stretches:
- Step-ups: Stand in front of a small step stool or stairs and lift your body onto the step using one leg. Then step backward down the step with the same leg. Do 10 to 15 step-ups per leg.
- Hamstring curls: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and your head resting on your arms or the ground. Bend one leg with the heel toward your buttocks. Repeat 10 to 15 times and then switch legs.
- Straight-leg lifts: Lie on the floor on your back, with one leg bent at a 90-degree angle and your foot flat on the ground. Lift the other leg off the ground. Repeat 10 to 15 times and then switch legs.
- Butterfly stretch: Sit up straight with the soles of your feet pressed together. Holding your feet, slowly lean your upper body forward (keeping your back straight). Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Standing hip flexor: Get into a stride position (body and feet facing forward with one foot stepped further in front). Stand up straight with your abdominal muscles tightened. Keeping your back straight, slowly lunge forward with the front leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute and then switch legs.
3. Losing weight can improve knee pain.
“Your weight plays a major role in knee pain,” says Bush-Joseph. “If you walked around all day with a backpack that had a 10-pound weight in it, you would feel how achy your back, hips and knees are at the end of the day. That shows you the impact extra weight can have on your joints.”
With each step people take, two to four times their body weight is transmitted through the knee joint, according to Bush-Joseph. Thus, the more you weigh, the harder the impact is on your knee joint.
However, people who are overweight and have arthritic knee pain can lessen the impact — and ultimately, relieve knee pain — by losing weight. In fact, people with arthritic knees lose about 20 percent of their pain with every 10 pounds of weight loss.
“If you are 20 pounds overweight and you have arthritic knee pain, almost half of your pain will go away by losing 20 pounds,” says Bush-Joseph. Of course, losing 20 pounds isn’t easy. But, if people are able to lose even 10 pounds and add in some stretching and flexibility training, they’ll experience significantly less pain, according to Bush-Joseph.
4. Wearing the proper shoes is important for healthy knees.
Supportive and comfortable shoes help take pressure off the knee joint by promoting proper leg alignment and balance. So it’s no surprise that wearing high heels is a common cause of knee pain.
“When high heels lift your heel up, your weight bearing line tips forward so your quadriceps have to work harder to hold your knee straight, which then leads to knee pain,” says Bush-Joseph. “Whereas, if your heel is closer to the floor in low pumps or flats, your thigh muscles don’t have to work as hard to maintain stability, which is easier on the knees.”
While strength training and stretching can help build up the muscles around the knees to minimize knee damage from heels, it’s best to save the stilettos for special occasions.
Proper shoes are particularly important during exercise. “If you are taking up running as a newbie or starting a new form of aerobic exercise, getting professionally fitted from someone at a running or sporting goods store can help with knee problems and will certainly lower your incidence of having overuse problems due to footwear,” says Bush-Joseph.
5. Stand up straight to feel better.
“When you slouch you are leaning forward and walking bent over at the waist — and that posture will lead to knee pain,” says Bush-Joseph. “You want your head centered over your shoulders and your shoulders centered over your abdomen and pelvis. The more your body is off-center, the more you have to compensate for that with muscle activity. Those muscles eventually fatigue, causing strain on your joints.”
Having strong core muscles in your abdomen and lower back helps promote good posture and, ultimately, lessens the pressure on your knees. Exercises such as planks, back extensions, yoga and Pilates can help strengthen the core.
Here’s how to do these exercises:
- Planks: Lie face down with your toes pointed to the floor. Put your forearms on the floor with your elbows at 90-degree angles. Tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles and lift your body off the floor. Keep your back straight and hold for 15 to 45 seconds.
- Back extensions: Lie face down with elbows bent and hands on the floor. Keeping your hips on the floor, lift your head and shoulders up with your arms. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat five to 10 times.
Knee pain is something that happens to almost everyone over time. Athletes and people who do a great deal of physical labor at work are prone to knee injuries while others experience knee pain as a result of conditions like arthritis or simple wear-and-tear with age. Whether you’re dealing with a recent injury or a long-term ache in one or both knees, the pain can be incredibly distracting if not physically limiting. You may or may not be comfortable treating the symptoms with medication or have a bigger picture medical plan with your doctor, but it can help to know a few ways to ease lasting knee pain at home and at work that aren’t over-the-counter meds so that you can regain some of your ability to both focus and relax.
Here at Mueller Sports Medicine, we care about each and every customer, whether you’re a professional athlete, a casual workout enthusiast, or just someone trying to get through their day-to-day life. With a selection of support and healing products, we hope to make every ache more tolerable and every injury to heal more quickly. Hopefully, these techniques for dealing with your lasting knee joint pain will help you and your knees as well.
Where is the Pain Coming From?
The first and most crucial step of treating your knee pain is to know (at least approximately) where it comes from. If it’s from an injury, you’ll need to have the knee looked at by a medical professional to ensure that there’s no serious damage or special care requirements. If it’s the result of a condition you’re aware of, follow the treatment methods suggested for this condition. If you’re not sure why your knees hurt, pay attention to where they hurt, under what circumstances, and what you can do to change the sensation. If the hurt is associated with movement and relaxes with rest or the pain is intense without reprieve, see a doctor before relying on home remedies. If there is an open wound, adjust your treatment to keep it clean and safe. Remember to be clear with your doctor about what you discover about your knee joint pain source and work with them to remedy the cause, not just the symptoms if at all possible.
Probe and Massage Gently for Soreness
Once you know approximately what is going on with your knee, it’s time to do a little in-depth investigation. Many issues with knee joint pain can be related to the muscles and tendons around the knee rather than the joint itself. Gently probe your the area around your knee with the tips of your fingers including the top of your calf and the bottom of your thigh to see if you can identify an area that hurts or is exceptionally tender, as this can clue you in on a deeper problem than a simple sprain or scrape. If the tissue is sore when probed, try a little light massage on and around your knee to see if it relieves the pain or eases tension. If it makes the pain worse, stop and, you guessed it, see a doctor.
Take Careful Walks to Reduce Stiffness
Often, if you can’t discern a definite cause of knee pain and isn’t a medical concern yet, you may simply be dealing with stiffness from sitting too long or standing in the wrong way. There are several ways to accidentally make your knees quite uncomfortable including locking your knees, sitting on your legs, and holding still too long which can all cause knee pain when you finally get up or as your knees wear out over time. Before declaring yourself injured, try walking slowly for five minutes to see if the pain eases and the tension shakes out. This is one of the reasons why “walk it off” is a standard piece of sports training advice. Often, what feels like a problem really just needs to be loosened up. Try swinging your leg freely from the knee as well if you feel unbalanced or don’t yet want to put weight on the knee.
Take a Long Hot Bath
If your knee is not swelling (this is important), then a long hot bath could be precisely what the doctor ordered. Taking a bath, especially in a tub where you can stretch out, provides a number of knee-soothing factors that promote healing and quick recovery. First, heat tends to relax muscles and tendons and relieve pain caused by stress or non-ideal movement inside your knee. Second, heat promotes blood flow which will speed up any healing process by continually delivering fresh nutrients and resources to the healing injury. Finally, laying down in the bath not only gets you off your feet, but it also gets the entire weight of your legs and feet off your feet as well if you allow your legs to float a little. If you can lay back such that your knee is in the hot water and above your heart, this achieves our next point as well, elevation.
Rest and Elevate the Knee
Outside the bath, while movement and strength are important, don’t overstress your knee and give it plenty of time to rest and recover from the day’s activities. Elevation, as in putting your feet up on something comfy, increases blood flow which is good for healing and relaxation while resting allows you to focus your body’s resources on healing and prevents further damage. These two factors combine to reduce the stress on your knees and, ideally, to reduce the pain you experience as well. Do your best to get the injured joint at a higher elevation than your heart. This can be tricky with knees and your best bet is to lie on our back with your knee propped on a padded stool or a stack of pillows.
Cold Therapy Can Reduce Joint Swelling
If your knees are swelling, as can occur after an injury or in the case of an arthritis episode, do not use heat. Swelling is over-active blood flow that results in pooling and heat will only encourage more swelling. Instead, apply cold packs or a plastic bag of ice wrapped in a towel on one or both sore knees. The cold will reduce both swelling and pain at the same time. Once the swelling goes down, so should your discomfort and you will be able to move around more freely again. Use ice for no more than 30 minutes at a time every one to three hours for best results. If you’re having trouble keeping the ice on your knees, consider soft braces with pockets combined with cold packs or soaking your knee in cool water.
Heat Therapy Can Ease Tissue Pain
If your knees are not swelling, we encourage almost any kind of safe heat treatment you can come up with at home or in the office. You can use heat packs wrapped in cloth, hot damp towels which is an at-home favorite, or even a heat therapy unit which pumps warm water through a soft brace for constant temperature-controlled treatment. When using heat therapy, you should also stick to about 30-minute sessions every few hours so as not to overdo it. Also, never fall asleep with a heating or cooling treatment on. The hot bath approach is technically another approach to distributed heat treatment and can allow longer treatments safely if you keep the bath hot. You may also consider soaking just the knee or leg.
Wear a Supportive Brace
Whether your knees are arthritic, recovering from an injury, or have become weak due to age or a medical condition, sometimes the best thing you can do for an achy knee is to wrap it in a nice supportive knee brace. If your problem is uncomfortable movement, a brace can keep your knee swinging along a safe track. If your problem is supporting weight, a brace can distribute weight over more of your leg instead of concentrating it on the knee joint.
Reduce Impacts and Weight on the Knee
Speaking of supporting weight, often a problem with knee pain has to do with impact on an already damaged or deteriorating joint. One of the first pieces of advice you usually come across for knee pain is to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the amount of work your knees do but we should also mention that impact matters a great deal. Walking lightly instead of with heavy thuds and walking toe-heel can reduce the impact on your knees with each step.
Find a Diet that Reduces Joint Pain
There are many natural remedies suggested for knee pain from ginger to “holy basil,” and most of these do actually have some power to change how your body responds to pain or treats the damaged area. Some natural foods are anti-inflammatory to deal with swelling, some are anti-spasmodic to deal with errant muscle activity, and some are natural painkillers. While working on a healthier diet, don’t forget to look up a few pain reducing ingredients based on your specific symptoms. Many people find that spicy foods that contain a lot of capsaicin can help manage long-term pain and in your dietary exploration, it’s even possible your pain is at least related to a vitamin or mineral deficiency in your usual diet. Try to make sure you’re eating every color of vegetable and increase the percentage of fish as your protein sources for the Omega 3.
Keep Your Knees Moving
Finally, rest is often recommended for injury recovery, but if you are dealing with a long-term knee joint pain problem, the last thing you want to do is weaken the knee(s) in question by resting too much and letting the muscles deteriorate. If you can and your doctor hasn’t said ‘no’, make sure to keep moving. Sometimes very careful walking with the right leg and foot alignment can help with knee joint pain. If it makes no difference, walk anyway and do gentle strength-building exercises to help your knee support itself around the pain.
For more tips and techniques for dealing with knee joint pain or any other sports, joint, or muscle-related discomfort, contact us today!
Fourteen home remedies for knee pain
The treatment for knee pain will depend, to some extent, on the cause of the problem. However, the following simple remedies can help with many forms of knee pain.
1. Physical activity
Share on PinterestExercises to strengthen the upper thighs can benefit the knee joint.
Exercise can delay the development of osteoarthritis (OA), one of the most common causes of knee pain.
Being physically active boosts the health of cartilage tissue, whether a person has OA or not.
Exercise also strengthens the way the body supports the joints. Strengthening the leg muscles is especially beneficial for the knees.
People with joint pain can benefit from activities such as water aerobics, as this puts little strain on the knees.
2. Strengthening exercises
Individuals can work with a physical therapist to identify the best exercises and programs for their needs.
Strengthening the upper leg muscles—the quadriceps muscles—through exercise can help to protect the knee joint. These muscles are at the sides and front of the thighs.
Here are some ways to strengthen these muscles:
- Straighten and raise a leg while lying or sitting down.
- Place one foot up on a step, then the other, stepping down again, and repeating the step-ups.
- Sit on a chair and then stand and sit repeatedly for a minute. Do this in a slow, controlled way and avoid using the hands to support you.
- Hold a chair and squat until the kneecaps cover the toes. Do this 10 times.
3. Posture and support
Measures that can help to minimize knee strain include:
- avoiding low chairs and couches that you “sink” into
- sitting on a pillow to raise your seating level, if necessary
- checking that you have a good sitting posture, without slouching or leaning
- wearing supportive shoes and avoiding those with broken arches, as they can result in abnormal force and wear on the knee
- avoiding prolonged sitting and long periods without moving, as joints may become stiff and painful without movement
4. Weight loss and diet
Share on PinterestA Mediterranean diet can help people maintain a healthy weight and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
People who have excess weight or obesity have a higher risk of knee pain.
Carrying extra weight gives the joints more work to do. Losing it helps to reduce long-term knee pain, including pain caused by arthritis.
Extra weight on your body increases inflammation throughout the body and the knees are affected.
Eating well helps with keeping weight off.
A healthful diet means a balanced one that is:
- high in fruit, vegetables, and fiber
- low in meat, animal fat, and other fat
The Arthritis Foundation recommend a Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in fresh produce.
You should check with a healthcare provider before starting a diet that claims to be good for knee pain, to ensure it will be safe for you.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and other medications can help with knee pain caused by arthritis. Some of these need to be given in a doctor’s office, but some can be used at home, either with or without a prescription.
In 2015, researchers published findings after comparing the effectiveness of a number of drugs used to treat knee pain.
They looked at the effects of the following on pain and stiffness:
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- intra-articular corticosteroids
- intra-articular hyaluronic acid
They concluded that all of these could be helpful, except for acetaminophen. Intra-articular drugs, those injected into a joint, appeared to be the most effective.
In a study of 1,583 people with osteoarthritis, a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate has been tested for safety and effectiveness.
The treatment looks promising, as nearly 80 percent of participant reported a reduction in pain of 20 percent or more. People who are interested in this treatment should speak to their doctor about it.
Some of these medications are available for purchase over-the-counter or online, including ibuprofen and naproxen.
Massage, including self-massage, may relieve knee pain.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) recommend the following.
These should be done in a seated position with the knees pointing forward and the feet flat on the floor.
- Loosely closing the hands into fists, tap the upper, lower, and middle thigh 10 times with both hands. Repeat three times.
- Sitting with the feet flat on the floor, place the heel of the hand on the top of the thigh and glide it as far as the knee, then release. Repeat five times. Do the same for the outer and inner sides of the thigh.
- Press four fingers into the knee tissue and move up and down five times. Repeat all around the knee.
- Place the palm of the hand on top of the thigh, glide it down the thigh, over the knee and back up the outer thigh.
Massaging the thigh muscles will have a beneficial impact on the knee.
7. Aromatherapy preparations
Essential oils may help reduce pain.
A study published in 2008 suggested that massaging with an oil containing ginger and orange improved pain and function in knees with moderate to severe pain due to osteoarthritis.
In one investigation, researchers found that applying an ointment containing cinnamon, ginger, mastic, and sesame oil had a similar effect on pain, stiffness, and motion as using salicylate ointment.
A range of essential oils is available for purchase online, including cinnamon, orange and ginger essential oil.
8. Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (PRICE)
Share on PinterestUse compression to support the knee and relieve pain.
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation may help treat mild knee pain that results from a soft tissue injury, such as a sprain.
Protection refers to protecting the knee from further injury, for example, by taking a break from the activity that caused it.
Rest can reduce the risk of further injury and give tissues time to heal. However, stopping all movement is not advisable, as this can lead to stiffness and, in time, muscle weakness.
Ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation. It should be wrapped in a cloth and applied for 20 minutes several times on the first day of injury. Never put ice directly the skin, as this can lead to further damage.
Compression with a knee support, for example, can increase comfort levels. The support or bandage should be firm but not tight.
Elevation, or keeping the leg raised, will encourage circulation and reduce swelling. Ideally, the knee should be above the level of the heart.
9. Heat and cold
Heat and cold can be effective in treating pain in the lower back, and it has been recommended to ease joint pain that results from arthritis.
- Heat relaxes muscles and improves lubrication, leading to a reduction in stiffness. Use a hot water bottle or a warm pad.
- Ice, wrapped in a cloth, can reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Some people may use heat to improve mobility in the morning and reduce swelling later in the day.
Remember to test any hot item before applying it, especially if it is for an older person or someone who cannot communicate easily.
Hot and cold pads are available for purchase online.
A colder climate is often thought to worsen pain.
Study findings do not support this, although living in a pleasant climate might make pain psychologically easier. It may also provide easier opportunities to achieve a more healthy lifestyle.
In 2014, researchers found that — rather than weather itself — sensitivity to weather in older people with osteoarthritis may affect how they experience joint pain.
People from Southern Europe, women, and those with higher anxiety levels were more likely to report weather sensitivity, and those with higher levels of sensitivity were more likely to report increased pain, especially with damp or rainy and cold weather.
The results of the study did not support the common belief that pain becomes worse in a colder climate.
A 2017 study carried out in the United States supported this view. Findings showed no link between rainfall and increased medical visits for joint pain.
In 2017, a study involving 570 people found evidence that acupuncture might help people with osteoarthritis in the knee.
Participants received either 23 true or 23 sham acupuncture sessions over 26 weeks, or 6 acupuncture sessions over 12 weeks.
Those who had true acupuncture scored higher in pain and function scores, compared with the others.
“Acupuncture seems to provide improvement in function and pain relief as an adjunctive therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee when compared with credible sham acupuncture and education control groups.”
12. Tai chi
Tai chi is a form of meditative exercise, and the benefits of exercise alone are discussed above.
A year-long study of 204 participants with knee osteoarthritis concluded that tai chi might have similar, if not greater, benefits compared with standard physical therapy. The average age of participants was 60 years.
Improvements in primary outcome scores were recorded in both groups at 12 weeks, and these continued throughout the program.
In addition, those who did tai chi also saw significant improvements in symptoms of depression and the physical aspects of quality of life, compared with those who underwent standard physical therapy.
13. Medical marijuana
Recent approval of the use of cannabidiol (CBD), also known as medical marijuana, has provoked interest in it as a solution to a range of health problems.
CBD is not the compound in marijuana that produces psychotropic effects, but it does appear to have a number of pharmacological effects.
Animal studies have suggested that it may improve joint pain, because it:
- inhibits pain pathway signalling
- has anti-inflammatory effects
Clinical trials have not proven its safety or effectiveness for use in rheumatic disease, but researchers suggest it should not be ruled out as an option in the future.
14. Apple cider vinegar and other foods
According to some sources, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve arthritis and other types of pain.
However, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support this. The Arthritis Foundation refers to ACV as a “food myth.”
Other popular advice for arthritis includes:
- consuming collagen, gelatin, or pectin, and raw foods.
- avoiding dairy, acidic foods, and nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant
There is no evidence to suggest that these are helpful or even advisable.
In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not test dietary supplements before they are sold to consumers. These compounds may cause side effects, as well as negative interactions with other medications. Always consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements.
Alternative therapies. Many alternative forms of therapy are unproven, but may be helpful to try, provided you find a qualified practitioner and keep your doctor informed of your decision. Alternative therapies to treat pain include the use of acupuncture and magnetic pulse therapy.
Acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate specific body areas to relieve pain or temporarily numb an area. Although it is used in many parts of the world and evidence suggests that it can help ease the pain of arthritis, there are few scientific studies of its effectiveness. Be sure your acupuncturist is certified, and do not hesitate to ask about his or her sterilization practices.
Magnetic pulse therapy is painless and works by applying a pulsed signal to the knee, which is placed in an electromagnetic field. Like many alternative therapies, magnetic pulse therapy has yet to be proven.
Possible Causes of Severe Knee Pain
Severe knee pain sometimes occurs in absence of a trauma, such as an accident or fall. The pain may develop suddenly or gradually, and it may be accompanied by redness and swelling.
What Causes a Swollen Knee (Water on the Knee)?
This article discusses several possible causes of severe knee pain. In general, people with severe knee pain are advised to seek medical care, particularly if the pain is accompanied by a fever or other flu-like symptoms.
Gout can cause extreme pain, joint swelling, warmth, and redness. These symptoms can appear suddenly and without warning, often in the middle of the night. About half of all gout cases affect the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint), but other cases affect the knee or another joint.1
See Gout Symptoms
Gout symptoms result from a build-up of uric acid crystals (monosodium urate crystals) in a joint. These needle-like, microscopic crystals collect in the soft tissue of the joint, causing pain that can be excruciating, as well as swelling, redness, and warmth.
See All About Gout – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Pseudogout: Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition (CPPD)
Like gout, pseudogout is caused by a build-up of microscopic crystals in a joint and can lead to sudden, severe joint pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. Pseudogout is less common than gout but more likely to affect the knee joint.1
See Pseudogout Symptoms
The microscopic crystals that cause pseudogout are called calcium pyrophosphate crystals. Doctors often refer to pseudogout as calcium pyrophosphate deposition (CPPD) or acute calcium pyrophosphate crystal arthritis (acute CPP crystal arthritis).
See All About Pseudogout – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
In This Article:
- Possible Causes of Severe Knee Pain
- How Infection Can Lead to Severe Knee Pain
- Causes of Knee Pain Video
Knee Arthritis (Non-infectious Types)
Many types of arthritis can cause severe knee pain, including knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis:
- Knee osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and tends to worsen with age. Knee pain usually appears gradually, worsening over months or years. Osteoarthritis is less likely to cause redness and swelling than gout, pseudogout, or an infection.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disorder that usually affects joints in the hands and wrists first. However, symptoms can also first appear in the knees, ankles or other joints. RA can cause a knee to feel painful, swollen and stiff. The skin over the knee may look red and feel “spongy” when pressed. Symptoms are often worst in the morning.
See What Is Knee Osteoarthritis?
See What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
Many other less common types of arthritis can also cause severe knee pain, such as psoriatic arthritis.
See Knee Pain and Arthritis
Osteonecrosis (Avascular Necrosis) of the Knee
Osteonecrosis is a condition in which bone tissue dies due to a lack of adequate blood supply. People typically notice severe pain on the inside of the knee with tenderness and joint swelling as well as pain when bending or straightening the knee. These symptoms may cause a person to limp when walking.
Osteonecrosis in the knee is not common. It is most likely to occur after an injury, but it can also develop gradually in absence of a trauma. Older women who have osteoporosis are at the greatest risk for osteonecrosis.
Tumor in the Knee
A tumor at the knee joint is rare. Typically, a tumor will develop slowly, causing intermittent and eventually constant pain accompanied by joint swelling. Pain may be more notable at nighttime, causing an awakening from sleep.
Other Possible Causes of Severe Knee Pain
In addition to the conditions listed above, severe knee pain can be related to an infection—either an infection in the knee joint or a systemic infection, such as the flu, that causes an auto-immune reaction that leads to knee pain. Knee pain related to infection is discussed on the next page.
Other possible causes of severe knee pain in the absence of trauma include soft tissue injuries that can develop over time, such as severe tendinopathy and IT band syndrome. In these cases, knee pain often develops gradually, and knee pain is less likely to be accompanied by localized redness, swelling, and warmth.
- 1.Schmitt, S. Acute Infectious Arthritis. MSD Manuals. Updated May 2017.