Your knee hurts. Left knee or right knee?
Maybe it was sudden. An instant of momentary pain when your thoughts are suddenly thinking that something definitely doesn’t feel right.
Maybe it just gradually crept up on you, taking you by surprise when you finally noticed that your knee was hurting. Did you stop then, to rest it, or did you just decide to push through the pain in the hope that it would go away?
Knee pain is very common. Most people will experience knee pain at some point in their lives but just because it is common, that doesn’t make it feel any better.
So, what are you going to do now?
Here are my seven best Do’s and Don’ts for how to relieve knee pain.
Sure, sometimes you know that the pain is minor and that it will clear up on its own after a few hours or days but if you’re reading this then there is a good chance that it could be more serious. If your knee pain is the result of an event or accident or happened recently then it would be wise to get a professional opinion.
Best case scenario you may feel like a hypochondriac and think that it was a waste of time.
Worst case scenario you may prevent yourself having a permanent injury, in which case you will be glad you took this advice.
Seeking medical advice gives you the best chance to work out a treatment plan for your knee, giving you the best chance for a permanent recovery.
R.I.C.E. = Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Resting your knee helps to prevent further injury (if any) and gives your knee a chance to heal.
Ice helps to reduce swelling. An ice pack is good for this however you can also use frozen vegetables or ice cubes in a zip lock bag. If you do use a zip lock bag be careful to make sure that it doesn’t leak and that you don’t apply too much pressure to the bag. The coolness of the ice can help give your knee the pain relief it craves.
Compression not only helps provide support for your knee and the tissues surrounding it but can also help to manage the resulting swelling.
Elevation (raising your leg by resting it on a chair or the arm of the couch) helps to draw blood flow away from the injury, reducing the swelling and pressure that would otherwise be on the knee.
During the first three days, you will want to use an ice pack (several times a day) to numb the pain and to help manage swelling. When using cold to reduce swelling make sure that you apply it for no more than about fifteen minutes at a time as any longer could potentially cause frostbite. You can use an ice pack once every few hours if needs be.
Once the swelling has started to settle you can use the heat of a warm bath to ease aching muscles and help your body to heal. This generally works best if done several times during the day.
Yes, when you have first injured your knee you should make sure to rest it to give it time to begin healing however gentle exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee will help in its long-term recovery.
It is important to make sure that any exercise is low impact such as water aerobics or gentle walking.
Weight training and resistance exercises can help to strengthen muscles however take care not to overdo the exercise in the early stages of a knee injury as you do not want to wind the clock back on your recovery.
The purpose of resting at the beginning of an injury is to allow the damage a chance to heal however if you rest for too long you risk your muscles getting weaker. Weak muscles can increase the risk of the injury recurring, slow down your recovery and potentially make the pain worse.
I recommend finding an exercise program specifically designed for knee injuries. If in doubt about how much exercise you should do, or what types of exercises are suitable, check with your doctor (or other suitably qualified medical professional).
The difference between a good pair of shoes and a bad pair of shoes makes a world of difference to your recovery.
A good pair of shoes will have cushioned insoles and will provide good support for your feet and ankles. They will help make sure that your walking gait is natural, which will help to prevent further injury from happening.
If you are unsure about shoes, then discuss your needs with a suitably qualified person.
DON’T do High Impact Exercise. Regular jarring of your knee, or strenuously pushing the limits of its movement range, will not help your knees recovery. You should not be doing exercises that involve jumping, running or lunging movements. Best case scenario you run the risk of making the pain worse. Worst case scenario you could injure yourself worse.
There you have it. My best seven Do’s and Don’ts for knee pain.
Life may not seem fair but that won’t change anything. You didn’t want this to happen and you certainly didn’t choose it.
What you can choose though is how you are going to respond now.
You can choose how you are going to manage your knee pain.
You have the choice. You can choose to make good decisions or you can choose to make bad ones. Just remember though, that the choices you make now, may have a permanent effect on your mobility for the rest of your life, so choose wisely.