As we age, we begin to feel aches and pains all over our bodies. However, it is in the knees that most people begin to experience pain that can seriously affect their routines and activities. To ensure that you are properly taking care of your knees, particularly if they have been hurting, there are things you need to do and things you should avoid.
Though there are different causes for knee pains, managing that pain is fairly universal. To ensure that you are helping your knees heal and minimizing pain, the following are the dos and don’ts for treating knee pain.
Be Aware of the Pain
From an early age, we are taught to push through the pain and persevere. When it comes to your knees, that pain is an indication that you are doing something wrong and that you need to stop. The more you ignore the pain, the more likely it is you will do more serious or permanent damage to your knees.
If you start to feel pain in your knees, take the time to notice it. Don’t simply write it off.
Don’t Stop Exercising
It is easy to use an injury or pain as an excuse to stop exercising. While you need to be aware of the pain, you should not be using the pain as an excuse to be sedentary. With excess weight and lack of activity being a leading cause for knee pain, it is important to keep exercising to ensure that you are not creating more work for your knees later.
The key is to make your workout smarter. The activity will ensure that your muscles are getting worked out, particularly the muscles around your knees. Instead of running, you can swim, walk, or bike. Don’t do full leg extensions as this can do more harm than good when your knee hurts. Yoga and tai chi can be great exercises that will build muscle without causing pain (as long as you do the poses correctly.
Remember RICE to Deal with Minor Injuries
At some point in your life, you are very likely to either strain or sprain your knees. When this happens, the best way to treat them is by applying the activities of the acronym RICE.
- Rest – try to keep your knee still by resting
- Ice – apply an ice pack or compress to your knee to reduce the swelling
- Compress(ion) – add a compression bandage to your knee to act as a brace to support your knee when you do need to move around your home
- Elevate(ion) – keep your knee elevated as much as possible while you are resting.
You can actually apply this method to any injured joint. Wrists, ankles, and elbows can all be treated exactly the same following an injury to help reduce the pain and swelling.
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Do the Recommended Therapy
When a doctor or therapist makes a recommendation for therapy or regular exercises, you know that you should do them. Too often we don’t though. It will take a lot of discipline, and may even cause some discomfort or pain, but as long as you are doing it right, that therapy or those exercises will help you heal faster.
You should make sure that you are doing the exercises right first though – before you do them on your own. The doctor or therapist will be able to tell you if you are doing it right and can give pointers. They can also let you know when to expect pain and how severe it should be. If you have any questions, make sure to ask them during the sessions before trying them on your own.
Make sure to add these exercises to your daily routine. Determine what works best for your schedule, whether in the morning, during lunch, or in the evening. By figuring out when you are most likely to do them, you will increase the likelihood that you will keep doing the exercises.
Do Figure out What Positions Minimize the Pain
You finally have a great reason to listen to your mother and teachers and learn to have good posture. Your back is not the only part of you that benefits from sitting and standing properly.
Here are the things you should do to provide more support to your knees.
- Only sit in chairs that keep your knees as no more than a 90-degree angle. Do not sit in low chairs or couches that make your knees bend more. You want to be gentle with your knees and refrain from bending them too much for long periods of time. You can sit on something, like a pillow, to raise you up to a little if you cannot adjust the seat.
- Periodically check to make sure you are sitting up straight and that your legs are uncrossed. Crossing your legs at all, even at the ankles can put unnecessary stress on your knees, which will cause more pain.
- Wear comfortable shoes that provide support for your knees and back. Avoid wearing heels or other shoes that put more stress on your knees.
- Stand up periodically. Sitting down for long periods of time will cause your knees to feel stiff, increasing the discomfort and pain when you finally do try to stand.
Do Massage Your Knees
Even if you are taking medication that helps to reduce pain, massages can go a long way to helping to relax the muscles around your knees. One of the few positive aspects of knee pain is that you can massage your knees yourself (you need either another person or a special device to massage back and neck pain).
To massage your knees, make sure you are sitting down. Either wear shorts or loose pants. You will start by massaging the lower part of your thighs to loosen the muscles above the knees. After loosening these muscles, the muscles around your knees will be more relaxed too.
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Massage the muscles around the knee, not just the area that hurts. Use four fingers to press on the soft tissue and gently move your fingers along the tissue. Repeat this several times for both knees.
You can also slide the palms of your hands over the lower thigh, over the knees, then back up to the thigh. This provides a soothing massage for all of the muscles on and around your knees.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His experiences over the years have taught him that it takes a more personal and holistic approach in his chiropractic care, massage therapy and physical rehab therapy. By helping Anchorage and Juneau patients see how lifestyle changes help to reduce or eliminate pain, Dr. Wells provides a solution to the root cause instead of just managing the pain.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.
His experiences over the years have taught him that the best Wasilla chiropractors take a more personal and holistic approach.
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