Monday, 26 December 2011

Home Remedies for KNEE PAIN / INJURY

 

 
KNEE PAIN / INJURY
 
We bend them, kneel on them, run and jump on them daily, yet few of us give them a second thought. Knees. They're one of the most complex -- and most injury-prone -- joints in your body. Why? Blame the knee's design. Unlike the more stable hip joint, which is a ball in a deeply-cushioned pocket, the knee joint is more exposed -- and more vulnerable.  
 
Essentially, the knee is made up of the thighbone (femur), which has a bottom end made up of two rounded knobs (condyles), sitting on the relatively flat top end of the shinbone (tibia). The kneecap is a small, rounded bone that sits in the vertical groove between the two condyles and gives the joint strength. 
 
As the knee bends and straightens, the kneecap slides up and down in the groove. A tendon attaches the kneecap to the thigh muscles above, and a ligament connects it to the shinbone below. The kneecap acts like a pulley, increasing the power of the muscles attached to it.
 
Think about the kneecap as a puppet controlled by "strings" -- muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As long as all of the strings pull in just the right way, the kneecap moves back and forth smoothly in its track. But if any string pulls too strongly or not hard enough, the kneecap is pulled out of its track and can no longer glide easily against the thighbone, which can cause pain and may even damage the kneecap.  
 
Because women have wider hips, the upper-leg bone of a woman enters the knee at a greater angle, which twists the knee. This makes women more vulnerable to certain types of kneecap injuries, such as chondromalacia (in which the smooth layer of cartilage that coats the end of the thighbone becomes roughened or cracked), as well as problems with the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  
 
If the large muscles in the thigh (quadriceps) are inflexible due to disuse or lack of stretching before exercise or if these muscles are overused, they can cause inflammation of the knee tendons (patellar tendinitis), or "jumper's knee." Muscle imbalances, in which one group of muscles is stronger than another and pulls harder, can cause knee problems, too.  
 
While knee problems can result from injuries such as falls, automobile accidents, and athletic injuries or diseases like arthritis, the vast majority of knee problems are caused from overstressing the knee during running, climbing, or other repetitive, high-impact exercise. Poorly conditioned leg muscles also stress the knees.  
 
However, if your knee problems are the result of overuse, lack of use (or "weekend warrior syndrome"), or improper training rather than injury, you can use the strategies and home remedies in the next section to improve and maintain the health of your knees and, if you do develop pain, to help ease the hurt and speed healing.
 
Home Remedy Treatments for Knee-Saving Strategies
Since your knees take so much of the impact of exercise and everyday living, it's important to keep them healthy. Take note of the following home remedies to do just that.
 

 
Stay trim. Being overweight stresses all the joints of the body, but carrying around those extra pounds is particularly tough on the knees, because with every step, you exert on your knees a force equal to one-and-a-half times your body weight. When you run, the force is five times your weight. An extra 20, 30, 40, or more pounds of body weight (usually from body fat) can really stress the knees.
 
For example, if you're only 20 pounds overweight and you jog, you're putting 100 pounds extra force on each knee with every step. So work on getting and keeping your weight within a healthy range (ask your doctor what that range is for you) by adopting a low-fat, lower-calorie diet, and getting regular exercise.
 
Look at your feet. A common cause of knee problems is overpronation, or rolling inward of the foot. A certain amount of pronation is normal, but too much can cause knee problems because it throws the knee out of alignment.
 
You can correct overpronation with supportive shoes designed to prevent pronation or with orthotics, which are special shoe inserts. You can buy ready-made, over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics, or you can get custom-made ones from a podiatrist, orthopedist, chiropractor, or sports-medicine specialist.
 
Buy the right shoes. Wear the lowest heel possible. The body can tolerate a heel of about one inch; higher heels throw the body forward and stress the knees. If you tend to pronate, buy a shoe that has antipronation devices or high-density material on the inner side and cushioning material on the inner side of the sole. Also, seek out shoes that have a stiff heel counter, the part of the shoe that cups the heel, because it helps stabilize the heel.
 
For sports, buy shoes designed for the activity -- walking shoes for walking, running shoes for running, and so on. Wearing running shoes for walking can cause pain in the shins and, in some cases, knee pain.
 
Then replace them. Often, knee problems are simply the result of walking or running in shoes that are worn out. Replace your athletic shoes every six months or every 400 to 600 miles.
 
Check your alignment. If you're bowlegged or knock-kneed, you may be at greater risk for knee problems. To check your alignment, stand with your ankles touching. If you're in alignment, both your ankle bones and your knees should touch. If your knees touch but there's a large space between your ankles, you're knock-kneed. If your ankles touch but there's space between your knees, you're bowlegged.
 
If you are not in alignment, activities such as swimming or cycling, in which the knees don't take quite such a pounding, might be less likely than running to cause you pain. (If you choose cycling, be sure the seat is set high enough so that your leg is almost fully extended on the downward stroke to prevent knee strain.)
 
Don't rely on OTC braces. Often, you see people wearing knee braces or bandages they've purchased at the pharmacy. An OTC knee brace may make you aware of the knee and remind you to avoid overtraining, but it doesn't really correct or prevent problems -- in fact, it can give you a false sense of security and might tempt you to be less cautious than you should be.
 
If you do use an OTC knee brace, opt for the one-piece neoprene or elastic braces rather than the elastic wraps, which make it difficult to apply pressure evenly to the knee. But keep in mind that if your knee hurts enough to brace it, you should see your doctor.
 
Avoid "knee-busting" activities. Deep knee bends and squats may feel like great fitness boosters, but they're too hard on the knees. So is kneeling, especially on hard surfaces.
 
If you lift weights, never fully flex the knee, don't "lock" your knees when you're in the standing position, and keep the amount of weight you ask your knees to lift to a minimum.
 
If you're gardening, washing a floor, or doing some other activity that requires kneeling, use a foam kneeling cushion or knee pads and give your knees frequent rest periods.
 
Don't "run through" knee pain. Many people, especially athletes, believe that it's best to "run through" knee pain -- that if they keep going, the pain will disappear. However, they are likely doing more harm than good. Pain is a sign that something is wrong, and if you push through it, even more damage may occur.
 
Change surfaces. If you walk or jog on a road, do so on the flattest part -- roads slant downward toward the edges so that water will drain off. If the side of the road is your only option, switch sides of the road frequently.
 
Hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt can increase the beating the knees take, too. If possible, run or walk on a softer surface, such as a forest pathway, grass, or a running track. Bypass soft, shifting sand, however, which can stress the knees.
Running or walking downhill can cause knee problems, as well. The natural tendency is to "brake" with the knees downhill, which can overstress them. Slow down and, whenever possible, traverse (that means zig-zag) rather than going straight down hills. If you're already having knee problems, you should probably avoid training downhill.
 
Mix it up. Repetitive movements strengthen some muscles while they allow others to grow week with disuse. That's why cross-training is such a good idea. When you cross-train, you do a variety of physical activities rather than just one or two. Combine running or walking with biking, swimming, dancing, aerobics, weight training, or any other activities you enjoy.
 
Stretch and strengthen. For strong, flexible knees, try performing these exercises regularly:
  • Hamstring stretch. Lie on your back, raise your right leg, and hold the thigh up with your hands. Gently and slowly straighten the knee until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh. Don't bounce. Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat three to five times on each leg.
  • Quadriceps stretch. Stand with your right hand on the back of a chair. With your left hand, reach back, pull your left heel toward your left buttock, and point your left knee to the floor until you feel a stretch in the front of the thigh. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat using the right hand and right leg. (If you can't reach your ankle, loop a towel around your foot to pull the leg up, or do the stretch lying on your stomach on a bed or the floor.)
  • Calf stretch. Stand two to three feet from a wall and lunge your right foot forward. Keep your left leg straight, with your heel on the floor and your toes pointed forward, and keep your right leg slightly bent. Lean into the wall, with both hands on the wall supporting you, until you feel a stretch in the left calf. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat with your left leg bent and your right leg straight.
  • Hip-extensor strengthener. This exercise strengthens the muscles in the back of the hip. Lie on your stomach, tighten the muscle at the front of your right thigh, then lift your right leg eight to ten inches off the floor, keeping the knee loosely locked. Hold for five to ten seconds. Do ten repetitions. Repeat with the left leg.
  • Hip-abductor strengthener. This exercise strengthens the muscles at the outside of the thigh. Lie on your left side with your head resting on your left arm, tighten the muscle at the front of your right thigh, then lift your right leg eight to ten inches off the floor. Hold for five to ten seconds. Do ten repetitions. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Hip-adductor strengthener. This exercise strengthens the muscles on the inside of the thigh. Lie on your left side with your head supported by your left hand, your right knee bent slightly and resting on the floor in front of you; keep your left leg straight. Tighten the muscle at the front of the left thigh, then lift the left leg eight to ten inches off the floor. Hold for five to ten seconds. Repeat ten times. Switch legs, and repeat ten times.
  • Quadriceps strengthener. Lie on your back with your right leg straight and your left leg bent at the knee to keep your back straight. Tighten the muscle at the front of your right thigh, and lift your right leg five to ten inches from the floor, keeping the knee loosely locked. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat ten times. Switch legs, and repeat ten times.
 
R.I.C.E. it. Okay, despite all the good advice, you've overdone it and your knee hurts. Give it R.I.C.E. -- rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Take the weight off the knee. During the first 24 to 48 hours, use an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) to keep the swelling down. Then wrap the knee (not too tightly) in an elastic bandage to reduce swelling, and keep the knee elevated.
 
Take an anti-inflammatory. Aspirin or ibuprofen can reduce the pain, inflammation, and swelling (acetaminophen eases pain but does nothing for inflammation). Don't use anti-inflammatories, however, if you have an ulcer, a bleeding condition, or a sensitive stomach. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics,
 
Avoid heat. Ice prevents fluid buildup, but heat can promote it. For the first 48 to 72 hours after a knee injury, when the knee is probably still somewhat swollen, avoid hot tubs or hot packs.
 
Massage it. While massage won't affect the bony structures of the knee, it does increase circulation and can loosen tight hamstrings and other tissues that may be pulling on the knee. If you've already developed knee pain, see a massage therapist or physical therapist, not just a friend, for a professional massage.
 
Strong Muscles, Strong Knees
Often, a muscle imbalance, in which one muscle or muscle group is stronger than another, causes knee problems. In other cases, lack of flexibility can contribute to knee pain or injury. In order for knees to function well, the muscles around them need to be both strong and flexible. You can do this by strengthening and stretching both the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the thigh) and the hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the thigh).

While rest is important when you injure your knee, too much rest can contribute to knee problems. Lack of use can cause muscles to weaken. Gentle exercise such as swimming can help keep muscles toned even when knees are a bit sore. And regular exercise can correct imbalances, increase flexibility, and prevent many injuries.

However, not all exercises are healthy for the knees. Avoid loading the knee with weight when it's in a 90-degree position (that's the same angle it's in when you're sitting in a chair) or bent even more than that (such as in a baseball catcher's position), especially if you have kneecap pain. Unless you are getting up from sitting, avoid this position.
 
Don't let knee problems sideline you from doing the things you enjoy. Take care of this joint from the start by following the home remedies outlined in this article.
    
 
Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor.
 
 
 
 

2 comments:

  1. Awesome information about Knee pain. I will try this. I shared this link in my Facebook wall. There are many home made remedies using which we can get relief from knee pain. These are more effective then visit a doctor. I find out such an informative article here http://jharaphula.com/natural-therapy-to-relief-from-knee-pain-at-your-home

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  2. Good sharing, Knee joint pain is a common problem with many causes, from acute injuries to medical conditions. Normally people will believe surgery is the only way to relief knee pain, in fact, some may ask how to cure knee pain without surgery. Yes there are ways like using Unloading bracing technology, having ergo mattress etc. More info:
    http://kidbuxblog.com/surgery-free-for-relief-knee-pain/

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