Knee injuries are very common in the United States. About one-quarter of all people who suffer from osteoarthritis experience problems with knee pain, according to the Nationa Institutes of Health. For older adults, about half with osteoarthritis have issues with their knees. Another problem for older people is the chance they will fall. It has been estimated that every 11 seconds an older American goes to the emergency room for a fall. This is also a reason many older people use stylish canes and walking sticks to improve mobility. There are some steps you can take to deal with issues when you hurt your knee.
- Think about the RICE approach. Before you rush out to get canes and walking sticks, you should try this. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Orthopedists recommend, doing all of these things to reduce the swelling. You need to stay off of your knee for a bit. By putting it up, you can help prevent inflammation, which causes pain. Next, wrap an ice pack, bag of frozen peas, or a bag of ice in a towel. Never apply ice directly to your skin. Keep it on for up to 15 minutes throughout the day. Lastly, apply a bandage such as an ACE bandage to further keep the swelling down.
- Use a device for help walking. Staying off your knee will be impossible if you do not have devices such as canes and walking sticks. If canes and walking sticks do not provide enough support, you can get a set of crutches to help you get around. If you cannot put any weight on your knee, you should get in to see your doctor or go to an urgent care center.
- Strengthen your leg muscles. When you injure your knee, you can find a lot of relief by going to a physical therapist and get some exercises to stretch and to strengthen your muscles to help alleviate the pain you are feeling in your knee. When the muscles that support your knee are strong and in good shape, they can prevent further injury and will take some of the pressure off of your knee joint. If you like to do cardio exercises, switch, at least for a time, to ones that put less pressure on your knee. Low impact workouts such as swimming, biking, walking can replace running. Running on a treadmill can be easier on your knees than running on the pavement.
- Try some anti-inflammatory medication. There are a few medications that you can get over the counter. These are referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). The two most common are ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). If you have issues with your stomach, you should talk to your doctor before you take them as they can cause problems for people with their stomach. You should make it a point to follow the instructions to the letter. You need fewer Aleve pills than Advil pills. If these medications do not help, there are stronger NSAIDs that you can get from your doctor. Some orthopedic specialists may also offer injections as an option to help your knee pain.
- If your knee injury is not getting better, there are surgical options. You can go to an orthopedic surgeon for a number of procedures. Some people, who have been active and suffer from osteoarthritis or chondromalacia patella, you may benefit from arthroscopic surgery to smooth out the cartilage. This is a fairly non-invasive procedure. If you have had problems with your knee for a long time, they may recommend a knee replacement. Both of these operations have worked wonders for many, many people. There are many other procedures that can be helpful for people who suffer from knee pain. One thing you should get your muscles into the best shape possible before you have any kind of surgery on your knee. This will make the rehab process after you have your knee surgery go a lot better. This will also make it easier to do physical therapy after you have the operation if you started it before.
Knee injuries are never fun but the good news is that you have lots of options to help your hurt knee.