You use your knees every time you walk, run, or move your lower body at all. Knee pain, therefore, dramatically affects the daily life of sufferers, who must use their knees throughout the day. Knee pain is the second only to back pain among American adult pain sufferers. Knee trouble is most often caused by osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint condition in which the cartilage that surrounds the two bones that comprise the knee joint wears away, sometimes causing painful joint-on-joint contact.
There are many treatment options for knee pain. Under the care of a doctor, sufferers can select the most appropriate course of treatment to provide optimum knee pain relief. Over-the-counter and prescription medications including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and aspirin reduce pain, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, can reduce inflammation as well as knee joint pain. At-home remedies like ice packs and capsaicin, found in cayenne pepper, often have a similar effect.
Natural supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine have become popular alternatives to traditional medicines in recent years because they present fewer risks of side effects. Both are naturally occurring substances in the body. The former aids in building joint cartilage, while the latter fights against degeneration of cartilage. Studies have proven their effectiveness in alleviating osteoarthritic joint pain, but have yet to demonstrate that these supplements actually reverse the effects of cartilage degeneration that have already taken place.
Modifying knee activity with physical aids such as padding, crutches, and splints, and even simple rest take the pressure off of the knee and provide temporary knee pain relief while the joint recovers from injury. Conversely, specific exercises, stretching, and low-impact aerobic activities such as biking, walking and swimming increase joint strength and flexibility, promoting healing and reducing the risk of further injury.
For severe knee injuries that have not responded to the aforementioned treatments, surgery remains an option. There are several common knee surgeries, which range from exploratory arthroscopic surgery, which orthopedic physicians use to diagnose the exact source of knee pain so that they can determine which behaviors and activities need to be modified, all the way to a total knee replacement. Whichever course of treatment a patient decides upon, it is important to work alongside a physician to ensure proper care.