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Runner suffering from knee pain

How to Treat Knee Pain: Common Causes and Symptoms

Oct 19, 2023

Regardless of whether we’re talking about the human body or a machine, the most complex part is usually the first one to malfunction. Knee pain is a perfect example of this. This condition is something that almost every human in the world has experienced at one point, and it happens for a wide variety of reasons.

So, how serious is this, why does it happen, and, more importantly, how to treat knee pain? Here are some answers to these questions that you should look out for.

Why does my knee hurt?

There are so many reasons why your knee may hurt including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Meniscus tear
  • Ligament injury
  • Fracture
  • Overuse
  • Obesity

These are just some items on the list. After all, your knee is a complex structure, consisting of:

Bones, ligaments, muscles, cartilage, tendons, and fluids.A problem with either of these elements can cause pain. It’s also a part of your body that bears the bulk of your weight and is used whenever you’re on your feet. In most sports, it’s the part of your body exposed to pressure, impact, and unnatural moves (strange pivots and shifts). 

Which activities can cause of knee pain?

While virtually any activity may be the cause of knee pain, there are some hobbies and lifestyles that are more likely to cause it. In general, it’s about two things: impact and overuse. Naturally, any activity that involves these two will increase the risk.

For instance, while running is generally a cause of knee pain, the conditions also matter. For instance, an inadequate surface (too hard or uneven) and poor running shoes can make it worse. An increased body weight and longer running distances will add cumulative damage to your knees. Running is one of the most common causes of the so-called runner’s knee.

Weightlifting and CrossFit are also putting you at risk. This is because you’re adding too much pressure to your knees, sometimes more than your knees were ever made to handle. Lunges and squats put the most pressure.

Some sports, such as skiing or basketball, are especially hard on the knees. Here, an insane amount of pressure is put on your knees, and failure rarely surprises you. 

How to treat knee pain?

Knee pain treatment depends on its source, nature, and severity. Generally speaking, there are a few ways you can approach this problem.

Can I get rid of knee pain naturally?

You could try a few things to lessen the pain and kickstart the healing process on your own. Most involve low-impact physical activities like certain activities and exercises that will strengthen the area and make your knees more resilient in the future. 

So, is walking good for knee pain? Walking is a low-impact exercise that can potentially strengthen the muscles and improve joint mobility. Since it’s so low-impact (especially compared to running, hiking, etc.), it’s also a great way to get all these benefits without risking making things worse. Another similar activity is cycling. While it can be quite taxing on your stamina and quadriceps, it saves your knee quite a bit.

Stretches are a smart idea both before and after a physical activity. Now, since you can’t stretch a knee, you need to stretch the muscles involved in the movement. This includes:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstring
  • Calf
  • Inner thigh

Exercises that strengthen these muscle groups are also a good idea. Before asking how to treat knee pain, it might be better to work toward prevention. Even when it starts, you can do many things to improve it.

What are non-surgical ways to treat knee pain?

Generally speaking, the best way to treat knee pain is to rest and modify activities until your body heals. If it’s a common inflammation due to overuse, this would be enough to help.

Sometimes, you could go to your doctor and ask for physical therapy. This requires a specialist’s opinion and a professional's guidance. Still, it can give some pretty impressive results.

In some scenarios, your immediate objective would be to try and manage the pain. So, what is the best painkiller for knee pain? It mostly comes down to the intensity of the pain, but over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, Naproxen and Aleve) generally give good outcomes.. 

Corticosteroids are great for any type of inflammation reduction. They should, however, be prescribed and administered by trained medical professionals. Injectable medications to the knee may also offer great pain relief. Steroid or hyaluronic acid injections may help. The steroid may decrease inflammation and the amount of fluid in the knee which may help lessen pain  ,whereas the hyaluronic acid injection helps supplement the normal hyaluronic acid in the joint fluid already in your knee. Only your orthopedic surgeon can tell which is right for you. 

Lastly, even a simple cold and heat therapy can yield positive results. 

When does a knee condition require surgery?

Sometimes, nothing other than surgery will fix the problem. Conservative treatment will have limited effects if you deal with a meniscus tear, severe osteoarthritis, ligament injuries, or cartilage damage. For instance, with damaged cartilage, while you can lessen the pain and slightly increase mobility, nothing other than a knee cartilage surgery will significantly improve your quality of life.

It’s also worth mentioning that starting with a conservative (non-surgical) treatment is always a smart choice. 

Wrap up

In the end, your knee is a complex area of your body consisting of many different parts, each of which could end up causing pain. Before deciding how to treat knee pain, you must diagnose the problem and try several approaches, from conventional to medication, injections, and surgery. 

Just remember that if left unchecked, it will happen again, and it will be worse. Also,living in constant pain is a nightmare in its own right. Either way, you need a professional’s help to deal with this issue properly. 

Visit the team at The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey for expert evaluation and a personalized treatment plan to help you find relief from your knee pain.

This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.