Our knees play a pivotal role in our mobility. They support us when we're walking, running, climbing the stairs or simply standing up from a chair. Yet, these seemingly simple tasks can become herculean challenges when knee pain strikes.
Knee pain is an all too common companion in the lives of millions, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the Washington Post, one in four people in the United States suffers chronic knee pain, particularly due to osteoarthritis. The severity can range from mild discomfort to debilitating agony, and without a doubt, it can be a formidable adversary that infiltrates every aspect of our daily routines.
Below, we will explore the various ways knee pain can hinder our daily activities, and we will also examine the most effective management strategies. This way, individuals living with this condition can start regaining a sense of control over their lives.
Impact on Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Knee pain poses a considerable challenge to an individual's capacity to carry out their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which constitute the essential tasks necessary for self-sufficiency.
The following ADLs experience significant disruption due to chronic knee pain:
- Walking and Mobility: Daily activities like walking to the mailbox, taking a stroll in the park or even moving around the house become challenging.
- Sitting and Standing: Something as simple as sitting in a chair or getting up is painful for those with knee discomfort.
- Engaging in Physical Activities and Exercise: Regular physical activity is crucial for overall health. Knee pain can limit one's ability to exercise, leading to reduced cardiovascular fitness, muscle atrophy and weight gain.
- Taking Care of Personal Hygiene: Activities such as showering, grooming or going to the toilet require bending, squatting and balance, all of which can be compromised by knee pain.
- Completing Household Chores: Household responsibilities, including cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping, demand mobility and the ability to stand for extended periods. Knee pain makes these tasks arduous and may necessitate assistance.
How To Manage Chronic Knee Pain
Knee pain is a constant and unwelcome symptom for many people. Thankfully, there are numerous strategies that can help you alleviate it. Some of the most effective knee pain management techniques include:
Medication is one of the most common methods to alleviate chronic knee pain. It can effectively target pain and inflammation, enabling individuals to regain mobility and relieve discomfort.
When chronic knee pain is severe or linked to an underlying medical condition, healthcare providers often prescribe stronger medications to address the issue comprehensively. These prescription drugs may include opioids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics. On the other hand, many individuals with mild to moderate knee pain find relief through over-the-counter medications, especially if their pain is related to conditions like osteoarthritis. Common OTC options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen.
Physical therapy is among the most crucial treatments for individuals grappling with a chronic knee condition. It offers a holistic approach to managing pain, addressing both its symptoms and underlying causes.
Physical therapists often begin with a thorough evaluation of the knee condition. They delve into the patient's medical history, assess their range of motion and identify any muscle weaknesses or imbalances. This diagnostic phase helps them tailor a personalized treatment plan. Then, therapists will employ a range of techniques to manage pain effectively. This may include manual therapies such as massage, joint mobilization or stretching exercises to alleviate muscle tightness and improve joint function.
Knee braces are the most common assistive devices for knee pain. These braces come in various types, each designed to address specific needs and purposes:
- Prophylactic Braces: These braces are designed to prevent knee injuries, particularly during sports and physical activities. They offer stability, reducing the risk of sudden twists or sprains.
- Functional Braces: Functional knee braces are often prescribed post-injury or surgery. They provide support while allowing for a range of motion to promote healing and rehabilitation.
- Unloader Braces: For individuals with osteoarthritis, unloader braces can help redistribute weight away from the affected knee compartment, reducing pain and enhancing mobility.
- Hinged Braces: Hinged knee braces offer high support, making them suitable for individuals with ligament injuries or those recovering from surgery.
Treating Chronic Knee Pain
When knee pain becomes unmanageable through conservative treatments, surgical interventions may offer a path to relief and restored mobility. The following surgical procedures each serve a distinct purpose in addressing chronic knee pain:
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that involves the insertion of a small, flexible camera (arthroscope) and specialized instruments into the knee. It enables the surgeon to visually inspect the joint and perform the necessary repairs during the same procedure. Arthroscopy addresses conditions like meniscal tears, ligament injuries or cartilage damage. It is highly favored for its minimal invasiveness and shorter recovery times compared to traditional open surgery.
Partial or Total Knee Replacement
For individuals with severe joint damage, particularly in cases of advanced osteoarthritis or irreparable injury, partial or total knee replacement surgery may be recommended. These procedures entail replacing the damaged joint surfaces with artificial implants. Knee replacement surgeries have a high success rate and can significantly improve the quality of life for chronic knee pain patients.
Sometimes, chronic knee pain is exacerbated by misalignment of the knee joint. In such cases, realignment procedures, also known as osteotomies, may be performed to correct the issue. Surgically adjusting the alignment effectively relieves pressure on specific areas of the knee joint.
Regain Optimal Physical Function by Taking Control of Your Knee Health Today
Dr. Benjamin Domb understands the profound impact of knee pain on a patient's life. For this reason, our team is committed to providing the highest level of care to restore the prime functionality of your joints. Whether you're dealing with a sports injury, arthritis or any other knee-related issue, our clinic has the knowledge and skills to diagnose, treat and support your journey to recovery. We believe in a personalized approach to care, where your unique needs and goals are our top priority.
Don't let knee pain hold you back any longer. Contact us today to take the first step towards a pain-free and active life.