Knees are frequently affected when it comes to arthritis. This unfortunately makes walking and general day-to-day manoeuvring fairly difficult and often, painful!
Instability, stiffness and pain within and around the knee joint can also occur due to old age, poor muscular engagement and of course, injury. Essentially, knee pain doesn’t discriminate - it can occur to anyone, at any age!
Based on our knee’s susceptibility to injury and disease, below you’ll find a few tips that are easily implementable when pain presents. These suggestions are appropriate for whilst in an arthritic flare, recovering from an injury and also generally helpful in a preventative manner for reducing further pain and damage.
Topical hot and cold therapy
Pain, swelling, redness and stiffness can all be reduced fairly instantaneously with the use of hot and / or cold therapy. By applying a heat pack (or hot water bottle!) to the affected area, pain will be reduced and circulation will be increased, thereby providing the joint with oxygen and nutrients which will aid in healing and mobility. To reduce inflammation and the sensation of pain due to nerve stimulation, cold therapy can be used via the use of a cold wrap, ice or frozen vegetables.
For either therapy, limit use to 20 minutes at a time.
Apply a knee brace
Knee braces are wonderful tools that have been known to aid in the management of knee pain as due to their slight compression, they provide support and enable for increased stability, thereby allowing for movement that is safer and more tolerable. Now, an important note to make is that knee braces are not for everyone and there are various types that are suited for different needs. Prior to purchasing, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider or physiotherapist and discuss whether a brace will be a helpful addition to your recovery!
Knowing when to rest and when to move
Sometimes whilst in an arthritic flare, it is best to elevate the leg / s on the couch and allow yourself to rest. You can team this rest period with a relaxation exercise such as meditation and deep abdominal breathing to calm the nervous system, lower stress that is perhaps initiated by the symptoms and ultimately, reduce perception of pain. When the flare has dissipated however, engaging in regular, low impact movement would be beneficial and overall, protective for the joint.
Movement will promote circulation around the joint, reducing stiffness and inflammation, whilst also strengthening the muscles that support the joint capsule. You may enjoy moving in an aerobic fashion such as a light walk around the block or if walking leads to increased pain, perhaps hydrotherapy such as water aerobics would be more appropriate.
When next in pain, implement these tips and your knee joints will surely thank you for it!