Whether due to a sprain or arthritis, there are several ways to combat the pain.
Before you attempt to treat your pain at home, you should be cautious. Seek medical attention for moderate to severe pain cause by injury. Some types of knee pain can require surgery or other interventions to resolve.
If the pain is due to inflammation, arthritis or a minor injury, there are options you can try at home that have proven effective.
Treating Knee Pain from an Injury
If you’ve twisted your leg, taken a hard fall, or otherwise strained your knee, first aid at home can be helpful. Remember the acronym “RICE” for treating strains and sprains:
Get off your feet and apply a cold compress or bag of ice to the knee. Frozen vegetable, such as peas, will also work if you have no ice handy. Make sure to put a towel or pillow case between your skin and the ice to avoid the risk of frostbite. Wrap your knee with a compression bandage to prevent swelling, but not so tightly it cuts off circulation. While you’re resting, keep your foot elevated. Do this for 48-72 hours after the injury for 15 minutes at least 3 times a day.
Treating Knee Pain from Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of mild to moderate knee pain that’s not related to an injury. As people age, the cartilage that cushions their joints begins to deteriorate. With less lubrication and padding, the joints can suffer bone-on-bone contact and become inflamed resulting in pain.
There is no way to reverse arthritis damage. In extreme cases, a doctor may recommend a joint replacement. For many who suffer only mild to moderate pain, however, there are many home remedy options worth exploring.
Natural Dietary Supplements
There is less research on the benefits of supplements and alternative therapy than on pharmaceutical treatment options. Even so, there is some scientific evidence that shows certain supplements can effectively treat arthritis pain. Here are a few of the herbs and supplements some people have found beneficial.
A study published in 2001 found that some people with arthritis experienced pain relief using willow bark. The extract is commonly used by herbalists to treat fever, pain and inflammation.
Ginger is available in many forms. It can be purchased in pre-packaged supplement form at health food or vitamin stores. Ginger root or tea can be found at the grocery store. The spice is used in many cuisines. Health benefits include relief from stomach upset and nausea as well as pain relief for many conditions. A study of people with arthritis found that ginger helped to reduce pain when used in combination with a prescription treatment for arthritis.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate
These two supplements saw widespread popularity over the past decade due to commercial advertisements claiming they promote joint health. Research has shown that the combination had minimal effect on pain for those with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. However, both supplements did appear to benefit people who had more severe pain.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of mind-body exercise that improves balance and flexibility. In a study published by Arthritis in Rheumatism researchers found that practicing Tai Chi is especially beneficial for those with osteoarthritis. It reduces pain and increases range of motion. The mental discipline it teaches could also aid in coping with chronic pain.
Yoga can be an excellent was to reduce that knee pain. As arthritis progress, the knee will lose flexibility and become much tighter. The muscles around the joint also start to weaken. Regular participation in yoga can improve your flexibility and strength levels. It is important to find a yoga instructor who is knowledgeable about modifications to the yoga poses for those with knee arthritis.
Exercise and Weight Management
Daily exercise to keep the joint moving reduces the knee pain in some people. For those with arthritis, keeping the leg stationary or reducing the range of motion to avoid pain can stiffen the joint and make matters worse. Being overweight can aggravate the problem as well, so weight management is important.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Using a heating pad to rest your knee when reclining can help to keep the joint from stiffening up. Wrapping a gel-style cold pack or cool compress around it can reduce pain and swelling.
In a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological sciences researchers investigated a salve made of cinnamon, ginger, mastic, and sesame oil. They found the salve was just as effective as over-the-counter arthritis creams containing salicylate, a topical pain relief treatment.
Before you try any home remedy, whether a dietary supplement or other alternative therapy, you should talk to your Physical Therapist or Doctor. Some supplements can interact with other medications or have unwanted side effects.
It’s also important to find the cause behind the pain. You may need blood work and X-rays to rule out more serious possibilities. The sooner you get to the root of the problem, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery.
Call us at Flex Physical Therapy at 1-800-930-8803 if you have any additional questions.