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WHAT CAUSES KNEE PAIN?
Knee pain is one of the most common ailments for many people of all ages. Whether because of athletic strain or an accident, injuries like this can cause long term problems to the knee and surrounding muscles if not properly treated.
While injuries account for a lot of knee pain, other common causes include medical conditions such as arthritis and degenerative joint disease.
Athletic injuries, however, can happen for a variety of reasons, but over activity along with poor recovery methods contribute to lingering pain.
COMMON KNEE INJURIES THAT CAUSE PAIN
In addition to medical conditions like those mentioned above, many knee injuries are a result of damage to the ligaments and cartilage in the area.
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries, for example, are common for people who participate in sports where spontaneous directional changes are required, such as basketball.
For years, ACL tears were seen as a career ending injury for professional athletes, but many have returned to productive form after effective recovery methods.
Derrick Rose, and more recently Zach Lavine are two of the most well known NBA stars who have been able to achieve this feat.
Other common knee injuries can include:
- Meniscus tears
- Bone fractures
- MCL (medial collateral ligament) injuries
Prevention of these types of injuries can be as simple as wearing properly fitting footwear, improved technique, and adequate muscle recovery.
HOW TO TREAT AND RELIEVE KNEE PAIN EFFECTIVELY
If you have knee pain, the first thing to do is assess it. Is it really knee pain, or is it just some soreness in your knees due to activity?
In the case of knee pain, you’ll want to do a thorough evaluation to determine the severity of the injury.
Once you have done this, you can begin treatment to relieve the pain. A common, and proven method, for reducing pain across the body, but especially the knee, is called the R.I.C.E.
This four step process goes like this:
- Rest: Take a prolonged break from the activity that caused the injury and rest your knee.
- Ice: Use a cooling agent to ice the injured knee for at least 10 minutes three times a day.
- Compression: In addition to icing, it is important to use hot compression on the injured area. This will help reduce swelling and increase blood flow to the area after icing.
- Elevation: Elevate your injured knee above the level of your heart and ice the injury while doing so.
This should begin as soon as possible to increase effectiveness and anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen can help alleviate the pain temporarily.
Heat therapy can also prove to be helpful during the Ice stage after 48 to 72 hours, if swelling has reduced. This will help increase in blood flow to the injured knee. This can also help to relax and soothe muscles in your knee quickly.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY KNEE INJURY IS SERIOUS?
On the surface, running on a slightly injured knee is nothing more than an annoying strain. But it could actually be serious.
Swelling is a clear sign that it's more than just usual soreness. In this case, the R.I.C.E recovery method is essential.
If swelling is combined with a lack of typical flexibility in your knee, rest along with ice and heat therapy will help soothe the pain.
However, if the pain is bad enough to make it unbearable to stand or hold your full weight, it could be a sign of a more serious issue such as an ACL injury. In this instance, you should contact your doctor for further care.
HOW LONG DOES A KNEE INJURY TAKE TO HEAL?
Knee injuries vary in recovery time depending on the severity of the injury itself, recovery methods, and age.
Simple strains and sprains can heal as quickly as 4 weeks, if proper recovery treatment methods are followed from the beginning. This can be extended if you are older or have suffered similar injuries multiple times in the past.
Major injuries, like an ACL tear, however, can take professional athletes more than a year to recover from and in some instances they will never return to full form.
Major injuries like this also increase the likelihood for future knee injuries and prolonged recovery time.
Regardless of the severity of the injury, take the proper amount of time your body needs to fully heal. Otherwise, it could become a lasting injury that can have major impacts for the rest of your life and require more invasive treatments down the road.
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