How to manage knee pain

Knee pain can significantly slow you down and prevent you from doing even the most basic tasks. If left untreated, knee pain can worsen and cause even more mobility issues. There are many different causes of knee pain, some of which are more treatable than others. However, there are steps you can take to help ease your knee pain, no matter what is causing it.

Do rest a sore knee

It is important to rest a sore joint to allow it to heal properly. Depending on the severity of the injury, rest may be required for a few days to a few weeks. Talk to your doctor if your knee doesn’t feel better after a few days of rest.

Don’t stay immobile for too long

Inactivity can creep up on you if you’ve been out of action for even a few days. It’s easy to avoid exercise to avoid another injury or exacerbating your sore knee.

But exercise builds strong muscles around your joints, and that helps prevent injuries. Once your knee has had enough rest, get back to your exercise routine, but don’t overdo it. Low-impact water workouts or tai chi are good options.

Do use the RICE formula

Rest for a day or two to heal.

Ice your knee to calm inflammation.

Compress (wrap) your joint for support and to stop fluid build-up.

Elevate it on a pillow or stool to curb swelling.

Read: Six major causes of knee pain

Don’t risk tripping or falling

Wear shoes with a good grip on them to avoid falls if you feel imbalanced with a sore knee. Keep your home’s hallways and stairwells well lit, and clear floors of clutter to avoid tripping over it.

Do use extra help if necessary

If your sore knee makes you feel unsteady, use a cane to help you as you move around. Choose a sturdy but light cane with a rubber tip and a handle that’s easy to grasp.

Do watch your weight

When you are overweight, it puts extra strain and pressure on your knees and can cause pain and discomfort.

“The effects of losing weight will be close to double what you would get from taking an anti-inflammatory medication, which typically improves symptoms by about 20 to 30 per cent,” says rheumatologist Professor David Hunter.

“Losing weight also has the additional benefits of reducing the overall risk of death, the need for joint replacement surgery as well as improving function in the long term,” he adds.

Do consider acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It is often used to relieve pain, but may also be helpful in reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Some research suggests that acupuncture may be particularly helpful in treating joint pain, although more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Don’t forget to stretch

Tight muscles around your knee could be contributing to your knee pain. Doing knee stretches can provide relief by loosening the muscles around your knee, which reduces pressure on the joint.

A daily stretching routine can also increase flexibility and decrease the risk of injury in the future.

Read: Morning stretches you can do in bed

Do use hot and cold compresses

You may want to use ice if you have an injury or your knee hurts after exercising, moving furniture, gardening or other activities. Applying an ice pack to the sore area decreases blood flow, which relieves pain and inflammation. Inflammation can cause swelling around your joint, making it feel stiff. When you use ice, stiffness is less likely to be a problem.

When you use a heating pad or hot water bottle, blood flood increases. This makes it easier for oxygen and nutrients to reach your painful joints. Heat helps loosen tight muscles and joints and relieves pain and muscle spasms. If you have swelling, it’s best to use ice for 24 hours, then switch to heat. If swelling isn’t a problem, it’s fine to use heat when you first notice knee pain.

Do try different sleeping positions

The best sleeping position for knee pain is on your back, ideally with your leg elevated. Sleeping with your knees up using a wedged pillow can help improve blood flow, take pressure off the knee, and relieve knee pain when trying to sleep.

Another option is to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.

Do try a knee brace

A knee brace or sleeve can help to support a sore or weak knee but should only be used in the short term. Consult your doctor or physical therapist about what support is right for you.

Read: Easing painful hips and knees

Do look at your shoes

The impact of each step you take travels first into your foot and ankle, then up to your knees, and then into your hips and back. If your steps are not properly cushioned and supported, you’re very likely to experience knee pain. Shoes that don’t fit properly or alter your posture and gait can also affect your knees.

How do you look after your knees? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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