Nearly 20% of the U.S. population experiences stiff knee pain, with the incidence and severity of pain increases with age. Those who experience knee pain have difficulty moving the knee joint or loss of range of motion in the knee. These can be detrimental to the strength, flexibility, and stability of the entire leg. The inability to bend or straighten your knee also has a negative effect on daily living.
Things to Do if You Have Stiff Knee Pain
Troubleshoot the Cause
The most common culprit of stiff knee pain is osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis. Other potential causes include trauma to the knee joint, knee bursitis, gout, or knee tendonitis. The cause of pain directly impacts the physician-recommended course of treatment.
To help determine the cause, your physician will ask questions about the location of the stiffness, whether you are experiencing any other symptoms like swelling, the nature of the pain (dull, shooting), and any recent physical activity you have participated in. He or she may also ask general questions about your overall medical history.
Confirm with Diagnostic Imaging
After asking questions about the nature of your injury, your physician may request diagnostic imaging such as an MRI or X-ray. An X-ray can confirm the presence of osteoarthritis, and an MRI will check for meniscal tears or loose chips of cartilage.
Get Relief from Stiff Knee Pain
Identifying the cause of your stiff knee is critical to the effectiveness of your treatment. However, here are some common ways that may help you find some relief:
- Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, is becoming an increasingly popular treatment method for joint pain, especially with professional athletes. The extreme cold activates the body’s nervous, immune, and endocrine systems to quickly reduce pain and inflammation.
- Aspiration: If a significant amount of fluid is present, your physician may relieve the area of pressure using a needle to remove (or drain) the excess blood and fluid. This procedure is done using a local anesthetic.
- Physical therapy: One of the most common methods to relieve stiff knee pain is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. A physical therapist can recommend exercises to help increase your range of motion.
- Diet and nutrition: In cases where weight is a contributing factor to your knee stiffness, your physician may recommend changes to your diet to help facilitate weight loss. Dietary changes may also help reduce the amount of uric acid in the body when gout is the source of pain.
Contact South Shore Orthopedics
There are many causes of stiff knee pain, so it is important to consult a physician to determine the best treatment for your individual situation. The providers at South Shore Orthopedics specialize in individualized and accessible care for patients at every stage of life. Schedule an appointment today.