How to Take Control of Your Knee Pain
Pain is an unpleasant feeling that prevents you from doing the things you love. But know there are ways to manage knee pain and regain control of your life. This article talks about that.
Common causes of knee pain
Knee pain is common in people with injuries or medical conditions like arthritis or gout. The severity depends on the cause of the problem.1
The most common causes of knee pain are: 1
- Injuries - affect the ligaments, tendons, or fluid-filled sacs (bursae) surrounding the knee joint. For example, you may have a knee fracture, torn meniscus, bursitis, or tendinitis.
- Mechanical problems – different types of mechanical issues can occur. One example is when you dislocate the triangular bone that covers the front of your knee. Another example is when you have hip or foot pain and change how you walk to spare your painful joint, putting more stress on your knee.
- Arthritis – it’s the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The ones that are most likely to affect the knee are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Osteoarthritis is the most frequent type when the knee cartilage deteriorates with use and age. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the knees. Finally, gout occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints.
Knee pain often goes away on its own. But some injuries and medical conditions, such as arthritis, can damage the joints, causing pain and disability if left untreated. Also, having one knee injury makes it more likely to have another in the future. 1
So, seek medical attention if you notice: 1
- Severe knee pain
- Increased knee swelling
- Impossibility to fully extend or flex the knee
- A deformity in your leg or knee
- Fever, in addition to redness, pain, and swelling in the knee
- Inability to bear weight on your knee
What are the risk factors?
Certain circumstances increase your chances of having knee problems, including 1
- Excess weight – it puts more stress on the knees and increases the risk of osteoarthritis, accelerating the breakdown of joint cartilage.
- Lack of muscle strength and flexibility – strong muscles protect the joints, and flexible muscles help you achieve a full range of motion.
- Sports such as alpine skiing and basketball increase the risk of a knee injury.
- Previous knee injuries
How to prevent knee pain?
Although you can’t always avoid pain, certain measures and lifestyle changes will help decrease the risk of injury and joint deterioration: 1
- Keep a healthy weight – being overweight or obese puts extra strain on the joints, increasing the risks of injuries and osteoarthritis.
- Strengthen your muscles – especially the muscles on the front and back of your thighs; they help support the knees, reducing the risk of injury.
- Stay flexible – balance and stability training helps the muscles around the knees work more effectively and help prevent falls. Stretching is also essential since tight muscles can contribute to injuries.
- Exercise the right way – if you have chronic knee pain, choose low-impact exercises such as swimming or water aerobics.
- Eat a healthy diet – studies show poor diet quality is associated with self-reported knee pain in older adults.2 According to the Arthritis Foundation, a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans, and low in processed foods and saturated fat can help fight inflammation and improve arthritis-related symptoms, including pain.3
- Vitamins - Vitamins D and K are essential for healthy bones and cartilage.4 Sources of vitamin D are oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, vitamin supplements, and fortified foods. You can get vitamin K from green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, cereal grains, and dietary supplements.5
- Try dietary supplements – they may help relieve joint pain and stiffness, improving the overall quality of life. The most common are:4
- Glucosamine and chondroitin, components of cartilage. They may help reduce arthritis-related pain and stiffness.
- Fish oil – the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
- S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) – a natural compound that may help reduce inflammation.
- Univestin® - the active ingredient in Daiwa Joint Health, may help provide relief for joint discomfort and stiffness.
Taking control of your knee pain
Controlling knee pain requires patience and dedication. It’s necessary to understand the causes of pain to avoid further damage. Whenever in doubt, consult a healthcare professional.
- Knee Pain. Mayo Clinic. 2021. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849. Access: 09/05/2022.
- Shin WY, Kim JH. Poor diet quality is associated with self-reported knee pain in community-dwelling women aged 50 years and older. PLoS One. 2021 Feb 16;16(2):e0245630. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245630. PMID: 33591989; PMCID: PMC7886155.
- The Ultimate Arthritis Diet. Arthritis Foundation. Available: https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/anti-inflammatory/the-ultimate-arthritis-diet. Access: 09/06/2022.
- Popular Supplements for Arthritis: What You Need to Know. Arthritis Foundation. Available: https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/treatment/complementary-therapies/supplements-and-vitamins/vitamins-supplements-arthritis. Access: 09/06/2022.
- Vitamins and minerals. NHS, 2020. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-k/. Access: 09/06/2022.