8 Common Reasons for Knee Pain and How to Treat Them

Has your knee been acting up lately? Sore knees are a very common condition that affects everyone, no matter your age.

Why do people get sore knees? Often, it’s the cause of an injury or a medical condition. It can also be the result of physical activity, as is the case with jumper’s knee.

Continue reading to understand the most common forms of knee pain and what you can do about them.

1. Jumper’s Knee / Tendonitis

Tendonitis of the patellar tendon is also known as jumpers knee. It can occur from overuse during repetitive activities like running, cycling, and, of course, jumping.

The extended strain these motions can deliver often leads to irritation, pain, and inflammation of the tendons. It is often referred to as jumper’s knee because of the force of hitting the ground after a jump puts pressure on the tendon.

If this sounds familiar, you might get an assessment from your family doctor or chiropractor for knee pain.

2. Torn Cartilage

You’re at risk for knee pain or even injury any time your knee sustains extensive pressure or strain. In this case, trauma to your knee can tear the menisci, which are the connective tissue pads that act as shock absorbers when you move about. The menisci are also important to help you maintain stability.

If you sustain a cartilage tear, which is quite common when you sprain your knee, you may need to wear a brace to protect the knee from further damage. In severe cases, you may need surgery to resolve the issue.

3. Sprained Knee Ligaments

You may experience a sprained knee ligament by suddenly twisting your knee or sustaining a hit to your knee. In this case, you will likely have to deal with pain and swelling and it may be difficult to walk.

If the pain is consistent, it’s wise to see your doctor. “RICE” is a common treatment that stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate.

4. Arthritis

The most common form of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition in which the joint cartilage slowly erodes. Osteoarthritis can happen at almost any age but usually affects middle-aged and older sets.

Excessive strain on the joint is often the cause of osteoarthritis. This stress can happen from being overweight or a reoccurring injury.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another condition that adversely affects the knee. In this case, the condition can occur at a much earlier age than osteoarthritis. The damage can be serious, as rheumatoid arthritis leads to an inflamed knee joint and the destruction of the cartilage.

5. Bursitis

Does your kneecap hurt? It may be prepatellar bursitis, or “preacher’s knee.”

Under the skin directly above your knee joint, you’ll find bursa, a small sac that holds fluid. Among its primary uses, the bursa sac helps protect against friction during movement.

However, irritation to the bursa sac on top of your kneecap can happen from bending, kneeling, falling or from overuse. As a result, you may experience pain and swelling.

6. IT (Iliotibial) Band Syndrome

On the outer part of our knee, we have a bit of tough tissue called an iliotibial (IT) band. This tissue extends from the hip to the outer knee and it can gradually become inflamed from overuse. With this condition, pain occurs on the outer side of the knee, often occurring with runners after running downhill.

Most experts advise resting for several days or more until the pain subsides.

7. Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs in young people, whose bones are still growing and changing. Usually, pain exists in a bump below the knee, where the kneecap tendon connects to the shin bone.

In short, too much strain or pressure from exercise leads to painful irritation in the tibial tubercle on the bottom part of your knee. The pain comes and goes as the bones continue to develop. Unfortunately, it’s a common condition and a part of growing up for many.

8. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually occurs as a result of muscle tightness, imbalance, or alignment issues with the legs. With it comes knee pain and sometimes even “buckling” when your knee is suddenly unable to bear weight.

This condition, which affects women more than men, is not brought about by an injury.

What Can You Do To Deal With Knee Pain?

Earlier, we mentioned “RICE” to help cope with knee pain. It is:

R: Rest your knees as much as possible for a few days.

I: Ice your knee every few hours for approximately 15 minutes. Repeat the process until the pain subsides.

C: Compress the knee joint in a sleeve or elastic bandage for support and to help minimize swelling.

E: Elevate your knee. The easiest way is to lie down with a pillow underneath your heel, which should help alleviate the swelling.

Stretching and strengthening exercises are also an effective way to deal with knee pain. Your doctor may even recommend a physical therapy regimen.

Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are commonly recommended by doctors to deal with knee pain. Talk to your doctor before taking any medications and always follow the instructions on the label, as these drugs may have side effects.

Natural Home Remedies for Knee Pain

1. Tai chi

Tai chi is a mind-body exercise practiced in ancient China that improves balance and flexibility.

According to a 2009 study, practicing tai chi is especially beneficial for people who have osteoarthritis (OA). It is recommended as a treatment option for OA by the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation.

Tai chi can help lessen the pain and increase range of motion. It also includes deep breathing and relaxation. These factors may also help you manage chronic pain and reduce stress.

2. Weight Management

Obesity and overweight can put additional strain on your knee joints. The Arthritis Foundation says that an extra 10 pounds of weight can put 15 to 50 pounds of pressure on a joint.

The foundation also mentions the links between obesity and inflammation. People with a high body mass index (BMI), for example, have a higher risk of developing hand osteoarthritis (OA) than those with a low BMI.

If a long-term health issue is causing knee pain, losing weight may help relieve symptoms by reducing the pressure on them.

If you have knee pain and a high BMI, your doctor can help you set a weight goal and create a plan to help you reach it. This will most likely include dietary and physical activity changes.

3. Heat and Cold Therapy

A heating pad can help relieve pain while your knee is resting. Inflammation can be reduced with cold therapy.

Here are some heat and cold therapy tips :

  • Alternate between cold and heat.
  • Up to 20 minutes at a time of heat can be used.
  • For the first two days after an injury, use cold pads four to eight times a day for 20 minutes.
  • Apply a gel pack or other cold pack to the injured area more frequently during the first 24 hours.
  • Never put ice directly to the skin.
  • Make sure a heating pad isn’t too hot before using it.
  • Don’t use heat therapy during a flare if your joint is already warm.
  • If your joints are stiff in the morning, a warm shower or bath may help.

Other ways to apply heat and cold are with paraffin and ointments that have capsaicin in them.

4. Herbal Ointment

In a 2011 study, researchers looked into the pain-relieving properties of an ointment made of:

  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • mastic
  • sesame oil

They discovered that the ointment was as effective as over-the-counter arthritis creams containing salicylate, a topical pain reliever.

Some people find these remedies effective for joint pain relief, but there is insufficient evidence to prove that any herbal therapy has a significant impact on knee pain.

Before attempting any alternative remedies, consult with a doctor or pharmacist.

5. Willow bark

Due to its potential to reduce pain and inflammation, willow bark extract is sometimes used to treat joint pain. However, studies have not found sufficient consistent evidence to demonstrate that it works.

There could also be some safety concerns. Before you use willow bark, talk to your doctor if:

  • have gastrointestinal, diabetes, or liver issues
  • use medications or blood thinners to reduce your blood pressure
  • are using another anti-inflammatory drug
  • are taking acetazolamide for nausea and dizziness
  • have an aspirin allergy
  • are under 18 years old

Before you use any natural or alternative medicine, talk to a doctor or pharmacist.

6. Ginger Extract

There are variety of forms of ginger, such as:

  • supplements
  • ginger tea, either readymade or homemade from ginger root 
  • ground spice or ginger root for flavoring dishes

The authors of a 2015 study found that ginger helped reduce arthritis pain when it was used with a prescription arthritis treatment.

7. Massage

Massage, including self-massage, can help soothe knee pain.

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) suggests the following.

You should do these while sitting with your knees pointing forward and your feet flat on the floor.

  1. With both hands, tap the upper, lower, and middle thigh 10 times. Repeat three times.
  2.  Sit with your feet flat on the floor and put the heel of your hand on the top of your thigh. Slide it as far as the knee, then let go. Repeat 5 times.  Do the same for the inner and outer sides of the thigh.
  3. Press four fingers into the knee tissue and move up and down 5 times. Repeat around the entire knee.
  4. Put the palm of your hand on top of your thigh and glide it down your thigh, over your knee, and back up your outer thigh.

Massaging the thigh muscles will have a good impact on the knee.

Current guidelines do not recommend massage as a treatment for OA of the knee because there is insufficient evidence to show that it helps reduce symptoms. Massage, on the other hand, may have additional benefits, such as stress management.

8. Acupuncture

A 570-person study published in 2017 discovered evidence that acupuncture may benefit people with knee osteoarthritis.

Participants received either 23 true or 23 sham acupuncture sessions over a 26-week period, or 6 acupuncture sessions over a 12-week period.

Those who received true acupuncture scored higher in pain and function scores than the others.

Final Thoughts on Coping with Knee Pain

As you may have noticed, knee pain from jumper’s knee, preacher’s knee, and other causes, often occur from overuse or overexercise. While exercise is important and delivers a host of health benefits, take caution not to overdo it.

To that end, be smart when it comes to physical activity.. Always stretch before and after exercising. If you want to intensify your workout, do it gradually and stop exercising if you start to feel pain in your knees.

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