By Ryan Geringer D.O.
Knee pain is very common. Most people have or will experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Knee pain can severely limit one's daily activities. However, a consistent active lifestyle has been shown to:
- Strengthen the muscles around the joint
- Improve your bone health
- Improve your balance
- Keep your weight in check (being heavier can add more stress on the knee joint)
So, what can you do to stay active as you recover and address knee pain? For my patients that have anterior knee pain I will initially follow three main treatments.
- Consistently apply cold and compression to reduce and keep the swelling down.
Swelling (edema) in a joint will result in pain, loss of range of motion, and decreased muscle recruitment, which can make activity difficult. To be effective cold and compression needs be applied after all activities to keep the swelling from forming by reducing the metabolic rate in the cells. I have found that when people are consistent it is because a product is easy to use and fits into their lifestyle. The best device I have found so far is Freeze Sleeve which is simple to slide on and moves with you so you so you can stay active during use
- Protect the knee with a brace which will reduce the risk of re-injury and allow the injured area to “rest” even while you are active.
For a brace to be effective it needs to be the correct brace for the correct injury so you are allowing the injury to be protected. Secondly, it needs to be wearable because it can’t protect if it is sitting in your closet. The most effective all around brace I have found is the reaction brace. It is easy to wear and effective for several different knee injuries and pathologies.
- Regaining strength and range of motion is not only important for recovery but will help prevent future injuries.
Recovery and injury prevention is why physical therapy is so crucial to maintaining an active lifestyle. Regaining strength is not just in the legs, but in the muscles in the hips. This will help keep your knee in the appropriate alignment, reducing the chance of injury, and improving overall knee stability. The great news is by doing these exercises you are being active and helping your knees - exactly what we want! To find these exercises and tools you can locate a locate physical therapist or find them online at Pains and Strains.
Using one of the three treatments can help, but using all three together has a cumulative effect that has helped speed recovery. To simplify access we created a care kit that combines all three treatments plus a topical analgesic that can ship right to your house available through Pains and Strains. For any injury it is important to consult your doctor. We are providing this information to educate and empower you on the care that is right for you.