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Rates of knee pain have increased over the last 20 years but fortunately there are many things that you can do for knee pain relief and to prevent future knee problems occuring.
1. Address the Root Cause
Unless the result of trauma, knee pain is usually not a result of a ‘knee’ problem. Problems elsewhere, very often of the hip or the foot are the primary issue casuing the knee compenstate.
For example, the hip stabilising muscles play a big role in controlling the path the knee. Weakness in these muscles means the knees tend to fall inwards. This places more strain on the ligaments and cartilage of the knee predisposing to ligament damage (ACL/ MCL strains and tears), patella (knee cap) pain, or overtime, arthritis. So, even though the end result is damage to knee tissue the true cause of this damage is not usually the knee joint itself.
If problems away from the knee are the underlying issue, they must be addressed for complete knee recovery. Take a look at the supported reach exercise which addresses two common causes of this faulty knee pattern.
2. Food for knee pain relief
Food can play a role in some knee conditions particularly tendon problems (Jumper’s knee) and knee osteoarthritis. Deficiencies in nutrients that are important for connective tissue and muscle repair (such as protein, vitamins C and D and magnesium) or inflammatory diets (that are high in sugar and bad fats) can predispose to soft tissue injury and knee pain. Learn more about nutrition for injury here.
It is always best, if you can, to get nutrients through the food you eat. However, modern diets often fall short of recommended intakes of key nutrients and, when tested, many people have been found to be deficient. Deficiency is even more likely after injury when the demand for nutrients increase.
Other supplemental compounds may have been found to be beneficial but are not readily available from food sources. In the case of arthritis, the compounds with most supporting research are Glucosamine Sulphate, Chondroitin Sulphate, Undenatured Type II Collagen, Curcumin and Boswellia Serrata. These can be supplemented separately or in combination. We recommend Arthroselect by Moss Nutrition which contains all of the compounds listed above.
We are delighted to offer our patients access to a full range of discounted practitioner-grade supplements via our partners Amrita Nutrition. For more information talk to your practitioner or email email@example.com.
4. Don’t listen to the “experts”!
Go on most manual handling courses and you will probably hear the phrase “lift with your knees and not your back”. However, although lifting in this way is sparing on the spine, it greatly increases the load on your knees.
What you should really be told is “lift with your hips not your back”.
This is how we are designed to move heavy objects. Watch any Olympic lifter or healthy toddler picking up a heavy toy and you will see them move this same pattern. A successul olympic lifter must lift this way as the high volume of training and high loads would otherwise lead to breakdown and injury to the knees or the spine. A healthy baby lifts this way as this is the movement program stored in our brains. This is how we evolved to move and continue to do so unless this program is corrupted by sedentary lifestyle, repetitive movement, trauma etc.
Here you can see most of the movement occuring through the hips. The hips have deep sockets surrounded by extremely strong muscles so are well adapted to handle heavy loads. The knees bend but stay over the foot minimising strain on the knee – this is key for long term knee pain relief. The back stays flat to spare the spine.
Sleep is an often overlooked but critical component of healing. In fact, when tissues have been damaged, the rate of healing is greatest during sleep, whatever time of day the injury occurred. Sleep also effects the pain we feel, and sleep disruption has been found to reduce pressure pain thresholds by up to 24%! Take a look at our sleep guide to make sure you are getting the best nights sleep possible.
6. Contrast therapy
Contrast therapy involves applying alternating hot and cold to the injured tissue. It is a simple, safe and cheap method of aiding recovery and reducing pain. Heating and cooling helps to stimulate blood circulation and has a positive effect on inflammation and swelling. Cooling also has an analgesic effect and therefore contrast therapy can be a useful aid to reduce pain before performing mobilisation exercises.
The effectiveness of contrast therapy can also be enhanced with the use of compression like a tubigrip or compression wrap. We recommend the compression wrap from KoolPak.
An alternative to hot cold packs is a hot cold gel such as Flexall. More convenient than traditional hot cold therapy hot cold gels are perfect those suffering with pain at work, at night or when travelling.
7. Support your knee
Some knee injuries (such as sprains) lead to weakness and instability of the knee. Although the best way to address this long-term is with a comprehensive strength and stability program this takes time. In the short term we can help to relieve knee pain and promote activity by using external supports such as a knee brace or taping.
8. Running tweaks
If you are getting knee pain with running, try increasing your cadence. Research shows that a 5% increase over your normal step rate significantly reduces stain on the knee!
Are you looking for knee pain relief?
Click here to find out how Treatment at Dynamic Health Jersey CI could help.
Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
‘Top Tips for Knee Pain Relief’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more infomation about Steffen click here.