When Knee Pain Won’t Go Away
More than 27 million Americans suffer knee pain, often due to knee osteoarthritis (OA). As you might expect, the number of knee pain victims increases dramatically with age, as does the severity of the pain. Knee OA occurs when the cartilage that protects the knee joint starts to wear down, allowing bones to rub against each other.
What are knee OA’s symptoms?
- Pain that increases when you’re active but gets better with rest
- Knee swelling
- Warmth in the joint
- Knee stiffness after periods of inactivity
- Less mobility, making it tough to get in and out of cars or chairs or to walk
What factors increase the risk of developing OA?
- Age. Your cartilage’s ability to heal lessens as you get older.
- Obesity. People carrying excessive weight are placing more stress on their knee joints, adding to the wear and tear on their knees.
- Genetics: If other family members developed OA at a young age, you may be similarly predisposed.
- Repetitive Stress Injuries: Occupations that require excessive activities that stress the joints, such as kneeling, squatting, lifting heavy weights, etc., are prone to OA.
- Gender: While the reason remains unclear, women are more likely than men to suffer from OA.
- Athletics: While moderate exercising is encouraged, people involved in soccer, tennis and/or long-distance running seem to be at higher risk than others of getting OA.
- Other medical conditions: People suffering from diabetes, gout and rheumatoid arthritis run a higher risk of getting OA.
Is there a cure for OA?
Unfortunately, there is not, but there are several treatments that can help relieve the symptoms.
What are the most common treatments for knee OA?
- Exercise. Strengthening the muscles around the knee makes the joints more stable and lessens the pain. Stretching exercises can be especially effective.
- Weight loss. Every pound lost reduces pressure on the knee.
- Knee Injections. Injections of steroids or hyaluronic acid can be effective, as the medicine is delivered directly into the problem area.
- Physical and Occupational Therapy. Professionals in these specialties can help you strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and perform daily tasks without pain.
- Chiropractic Care. Non-invasive measures that do not rely on medication or surgery can be effective, such as chiropractic manipulation and mobilization.
- Pain Relievers and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Over-the-count options like acetaminophen can provide help in the short term, but if the pain continues to persist for 10 days or more, you should see a doctor.
- Surgery. This is often used as a last resort when other treatment methods have failed.