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No matter what your age, you have likely experienced some kind of knee pain. Whether you’re physically active and experience occasional soreness or live with chronic pain like arthritis, there are solutions to fit your needs.
Types of knee pain
General knee pain and soreness can be caused by overuse or extended activity — especially if your knees support the extra weight. Every pound of excess weight you have puts four pounds of extra pressure on your knees. Losing 10 pounds of excess weight can take off 40 pounds of pressure!
Minor knee pain is usually treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and by resting the knee and applying heat or ice. Arthritis, when cartilage in your knee joint wears down and is lost, is the most common cause of knee pain. Arthritis in the knee can be treated just as common knee pain.
Sudden trauma to the knee can also cause severe pain. If you experience severe pain, seek emergency care immediately.
Another common cause of knee pain is a meniscus injury. These injuries very often happen while playing sports but can just as easily happen while you are doing home improvements or yard work.
The meniscus is a C-shaped disc of cartilage that cushions your knee. This layer weakens and thins out over time so age can be a factor. If you experience a torn meniscus, you must see an orthopedic specialist to determine treatment. Meniscus tears can be treated both non-surgically and surgically.
Relieve the pain
Depending on the severity of your knee pain, treatment plans may include medication, physical therapy, or surgery. For mild aches, strains, or sprains, try the R.I.C.E. method at home.
- Rest and reduce your activity.
- Ice joints that feel swollen, tender, or achy. Use ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time, four to eight hours a day.
- Compress the injured area with a bandage or brace to keep swelling down and provide support.
- Elevate injured areas above the heart, if possible, to reduce swelling.
When to see a specialist
“If your pain continues, increases or you feel you have lost motion in your knees, please schedule a visit with your physician,” advises Dr. Elizabeth Dulaney-Cripe, an orthopedic surgeon. “Your physician can determine the best treatment option that may or may not include surgery.”
To maintain good joint health, you should stay active. “Consider a routine of aerobic and light strengthening exercises three or four days a week to help prevent injury and alleviate minor knee pain,” says Dr. Dulaney-Cripe.
Dr. Dulaney-Cripe offers these four tips to keep your knees active:
1. Properly warm up and stretch before and after activity
2. Maintain a healthy weight
3. Participate in regular activity at least three times per week
4. Avoid smoking.
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