Like many other people, you probably have experienced pain in your back, hand, or knee in your life. You may have acute pain which starts suddenly and gets better after a short time. Or you may experience chronic pain which persists and may get worse over time.
Knee pain is another common pain condition that affects people of all ages. When you have knee pain, you may also experience:
- Swelling and stiffness of the knee joint
- Redness and warmth on your knee
- Popping noise when you move your knee
- Weakness or instability of your knee
- Difficulty in straightening your knee
Several causes of knee pain include:
- Injuries or overuse, such as sprained or strained muscles and ligaments associated with the knee, torn cartilage, and tendonitis
- Mechanical problems, such as hip or foot disorders or excess bodyweight that puts a strain on your knee, broken fragments of bones or cartilage that float in the space within the knee joint, and a dislocated kneecap
- Different types of Arthritis
What are the Treatment Options for Knee Pain?
Treatment options for knee pain vary depending on the cause of the pain. Some of the common treatment options include lifestyle modifications (e.g., weight loss), medications, physical therapy, and/or surgery.
Several oral or topical pain relievers can help reduce knee pain. Some of these oral medications are available over-the-counter (OTC) such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Some topical medications that are available over-the-counter include creams, liquids and patches that contain capsaicin, menthol, methyl salicylate and other compounds. Stronger pain medications or corticosteroids may need to be prescribed by your doctor.
Home therapy such as resting and applying hot or cold packs on your painful knee may help relieve the pain. You can also try to limit activities that cause the pain.
Your doctor may recommend you do physical therapy to help with the pain. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knee.
Surgery may be needed for certain types of knee pain. If you have broken bones or other severe injury, you may need surgery to repair the fracture and reduce pain. Or if your knee is badly damaged, you may need injections into your knee joint or even total knee replacement surgery.
If you have knee pain that doesn’t improve with home treatment or OTC medications, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can help identify the cause of your pain and recommend appropriate treatment options for you.
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Knee Pain. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849. Accessed April 14, 2020.
Knee Pain and Problems. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/knee-pain-and-problems. Accessed April 14, 2020.
Knee Pain. MedLine Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003187.htm. Updated November 5, 2018. Accessed April 14, 2020.