You have been exercising for years but recently developed some pain in your knee (s). There was no 'injury' per se, just the insidious onset of pain that you have not had before.
This is an all-too-common story told by patients to their doctors. Most patients think it is not worth going to see a doctor if they didn't sustain an injury (meaning if the pain just started and was not caused by trauma). This is not the case. Most knee pain falls under the category of overuse injury and is not traumatic.
There are many things that can lead to this, and you should seek medical advice if the pain has been persistent and has not responded to a few days course of rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, and activity modification, such as stopping the exercise that incited the pain. If there is #swelling, locking, or #catching (a mechanical symptom), then you should seek medical attention as well.
Why is it something that should be seen sooner rather than later? It is easier to address the issues that cause these overuse injuries if they are seen earlier when the mechanics of walking and running haven't changed significantly and the muscles have not atrophied in response to the pain or disuse.
There are a number of things that can cause the type of knee pain that comes as a result of exercise. Some of these include meniscus tears or stress fractures, usually seen in response to sudden increases in impact exercises, such as when training for a marathon. These should be seen and diagnosed by a doctor so the stress fracture does not evolve to a true #fracture, which is much more serious.
However, the number one cause of knee pain is usually from an overload on the patella (knee cap), called a patellofemoral syndrome. This is usually caused by an imbalance in the muscles or weakness that allows the load to be distributed unevenly across the patella, resulting in a pressure-like feeling at the bottom or deep inside of the knee. This usually occurs during weight-bearing bent-knee activities such as stairs, #squatting, or #running.
This type of pain is usually very responsive to directed physical therapy aimed at finding the imbalance and at the needed strengthening and/or stretching to correct it. The exercises that tend to help with the patellofemoral syndrome are specific types of quadriceps and abductor strengthening and can usually be done at home once demonstrated by a physical #therapist.
The fancy term for this is crepitus. Don’t worry, it’s quite common. It could merely be bubbles of gas popping in your joints or cartilage in your knees loosing its smoothness, which causes the bones and tissues to rub together noisily when you bend your knees. What to look out for – pain, swelling, and locking of the knees. If you experience that, you could have a meniscus tear. If there’s some crunching and grinding and pain when you perform a squat, it could be arthritis. Some treatments to consider for aches and pains include glucosamine, especially in combination with chondroitin. Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients may help. Tart cherry juice concentrate has been significantly proven to lessen the pain as well.
DIY MUSCLE RELIEF
A frozen bag of peas doesn't cover a swollen ankle or a banged-up knee very well. Make your own gel-pack by filling a zip-top bag with one part rubbing alcohol and three parts water. Seal the bag and place it in a second bag for durability. Freeze for four hours. The gel pack will conform to your body better than a bag of frozen peas or ice.
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