Knee Pain? Swelling? Stiffness? Clicking When You Walk or Run?
Knee problems affect people of all ages and can arise from injury, overuse, or due to underlying medical conditions. The most common signs and symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, warmth, weakness, popping or crunching noises, and the inability to fully extend the knee.
Some Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Faulty Biomechanics: Structural abnormalities such as one hip higher than the other (i.e. pelvic imbalance) can create a leg length discrepancy and result in more pressure on one side of the body. Over time, this can lead to inflammation, stiffness, and pain in the short term, and degeneration (wear-and-tear) in the long run. Correcting these structural abnormalities is the only way to achieve a permanent solution. Medications and even surgery will only provide temporary relief if the underlying cause isn’t corrected. A Structural Chiropractor and corrective exercises oftentimes provide full and permanent solutions.
- Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints, due to trauma or in some cases, disease. While there are over100 different types of arthritis, the most common type by far is osteoarthritis, which is degenerative or “wear-and-tear” of the cartilage between the bones. If left untreated, it can worsen over time and cause the knee (and other joints) to be painful and stiff.
- Injuries: Injuries can affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones of the knee as well as the surrounding tissues. A few of the most common knee injuries include the following:
- ACL sprain/tear: One of the most common injuries, especially in sports. When it occurs, it is the tear of the major ligament in the knee and happens when a sudden movement causes the ligament to overstretch and at times, tear. The symptoms include swelling, forward instability, and pain from the damaged knee.
- Fractures: a break or crack in the bones. When a knee fracture occurs it can be painful and requires a doctor’s examination. The doctor will most likely put the fractured area in a splint or cast to help protect and heal the area.
- Torn Meniscus: One of the most common knee injuries, which happens when the knee is forcibly twisted with a planted foot. Symptoms may include popping, swelling, stiffness, intense pain, and the inability to straighten the knee.
- Knee Bursitis: Another very common injury, bursitis occurs when the small cushions that help the bones, tendons, and muscles around the joints become inflamed due to excessive friction due to faulty biomechanics.
- Patellar Tendinitis: inflammation of the tissue that connects the knee cap to the shin bone. The injury commonly occurs in athletes and is treated by strengthening the muscles around the knee (quads, hamstrings, TFL/IT Band, etc).
When Should I See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor as soon as possible if any of these symptoms or signs occur:
- Clicking or popping
- Unable to put weight on the knee
- Can’t fully extend or flex the knee
- Knee “gives out” or feels unstable
Treatment Options: For mild knee pain there are inexpensive, at-home treatment options that usually help such as ice/heat, rest, physical therapy and corrective exercises, and knee bracing. Also, keeping your body in good shape can help prevent future injury and knee pain. The muscles around your knee help to keep it in place and when these weaken the likelihood of having an injury increases.
More serious knee pain used to result in the almost-guaranteed prescription of pain medication, cortisone injections, and even surgery. Fortunately, the last decade has brought us more innovative methods such as Cold Laser Therapy, PRP, and stem cell therapy.
How do I treat knee pain, naturally?
- Rest: As with most injuries, avoiding offending activities and rest is crucial.
- Ice/Heat: Can help reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as break the pain-spasm cycle. Heat can improve circulation to the injured region. 15-20 minutes applied to the painful area can help. Do as often as needed.
- Chiropractic: Adjustments can be done not just to the spine, but also to the knee, hips, ankles to help restore proper function to “stuck” joints.
- Physical Therapy: Can help strengthen and improve the flexibility of the muscles surrounding the knees. Your Doctor of Physical Therapy will develop a specific, individualized program to stretch tight muscles, strengthen weak muscles, and address other structural abnormalities.
- Supplementation: Supplements such as joint support (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, SAMe, collagen, vitamin C/zinc), omega 3s, bromelain, and turmeric can all be used for both alleviation of pain, and also to prevent further degeneration of knee cartilage. Arnica is also a great option for bumps and bruises involving the knee.
- Shed Excess Weight: Being overweight causes extra stress on your knees. Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the chances of added pressure and stress affecting your knees. A significant portion of knee pain will improve and even resolve with dropping excess weight.
If you are looking for a permanent solution for your knee pain, or have any questions, call us at 714 540 6792 for a free phone or in-person consultation, which is simply a conversation with our doctors to see if we can help!