Knee pain is extremely common. It affects millions of people of all ages, and it tends to become more prevalent with age — 18% of men and 23% of women over the age of 60 report knee pain. But what exactly is knee pain, what causes it, and what can be done about it?
Here to answer your questions and help you get relief is Dr. Stanley Mathew, our triple-board certified physiatrist and pain management expert at American Rehabilitation Medicine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He specializes in helping people overcome the painful symptoms of knee pain so they can participate fully in the recovery and healing process.
Your knee joint is a complex network of muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons that need to work harmoniously to bend and flex while supporting your entire body weight. So if you’re overweight or obese, your knees have to withstand more pressure than they were designed to. In fact, each pound of body weight puts an extra 4 pounds of pressure on your knee joints.
But weight isn’t the only issue. Osteoarthritis (OA) is another common culprit that causes knee pain. OA is the gradual wear-and-tear of your knee’s cartilage over time that allows bones to rub on bones and leaves the inside of your knee chronically swollen and painful.
Of course, acute injury causes knee pain too. Strained muscles, sprained ligaments, and fractured bones can happen in countless traumatic events, like car crashes, football games, and falls down stairs.
Because knee pain can be debilitating, you may think that the only way to get back up and moving again is to take strong medication or undergo surgery, but that’s not true. You have some very effective options before you resort to such extremes.
Dr. Mathew is a physiatrist, which means he specializes in diagnosing and treating physical impairments without surgery. He’s also an expert pain management and rehabilitation professional who’s well versed in the science and art of overcoming pain, injury, and chronic conditions. Of course, the cause of your knee pain dictates the best treatment plan, but in general, here are three solutions he suggests for knee pain.
You may be tempted to overlook some of the time-honored conservative treatments for pain and go straight for more extreme measures, but it’s wise to start with the least-invasive methods first. Often, that’s all you need to reduce your pain and allow healing to occur. These include:
The goal is to decrease inflammation, which causes pain and leads to immobility. This, in turn, gives your body a chance to go through the natural healing process.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis and often attacks the knee joints. Over time, the slippery cartilage that protects your bones wears away and leaves your femur and tibia rubbing against one another.
In addition to becoming painfully inflamed, your knees lose hyaluronate, the essential fluid that keeps your joint lubricated. In this case, Dr. Mathew injects Hyalgan®, which contains hyaluronate, into your joint to reduce friction, stiffness, and pain.
When at-home remedies aren’t helping as much as you’d like, Dr. Mathew steps in with next-level treatments. Of course, his recommendation depends on multiple factors, including the cause of your knee pain, your age, your activity goals, and your medical history. Some of the treatments he may offer include:
All of these treatments reduce or block your pain with the goal of enabling you to participate in healing activities unhindered. They all come with the added benefit of not involving addictive opioids or invasive surgeries.
If you’re looking for a safe and effective way to lower your pain level and rehabilitate your aching knee, call us at 319-369-7331 today or request an appointment online to talk with Dr. Mathew about the best treatment for your particular type of knee pain.