Most people probably move more every day than they think. According to some estimates, the average adult in the United States takes about 5,100 steps a day. For context, that’s about 2.5 miles. For those with chronic knee pain, however, this distance can seem even longer and can disrupt day-to-day activities.
Knowing what causes your pain and how to treat or even avoid it can help you get control of daily pain and discomfort. That, in turn, can help bring enjoyment back to your daily life.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
Climbing stairs, running around the yard with children and grandchildren, and even taking beloved pets for a stroll can all trigger knee pain. However, these activities usually do not directly cause the pain itself; rather, they most often simply trigger it.
There are plenty of reasons why discomfort and pain may occur at the knee joints, including the following.
- ACL tear – An ACL tear refers to a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, which connects the shinbone (tibia) to the thigh bone (femur).
- Bursitis – Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs or cavities. They are located between joints, specifically between bone and surrounding tissues, and help reduce friction. When a bursa is inflamed, it is known as bursitis.
- Dislocation – When someone has a dislocated knee, it means that the bones of the knee are out of place. It can occur from injury or be present at birth.
- Jumper’s knee (patellar tendonitis) – The patellar tendon connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). Jumper’s knee occurs when this tendon becomes inflamed, often from frequent jumping.
- Meniscus tear – The meniscus is a cushioning cartilage located between the shinbone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur). When this cartilage tears, it is known as a meniscus tear.
- Osteoarthritis (OA) – OA is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs from regular “wear and tear” at the joints over time, which is why it is a common condition among the elderly. When OA affects the knees, it is known as knee osteoarthritis.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (anterior knee pain syndrome) – This condition occurs after overuse or another kind of injury results in damage to the cartilage under the kneecap (patella).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – RA is a type of arthritis that occurs when the body mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells.
Sprains – Sprains occur when ligaments stretch too much or tear.
9 Ways to Avoid Knee Discomfort While Walking
There are plenty of ways to avoid knee discomfort while walking, although which treatments work best will vary by individual. Treatment options to discuss with a physician include the following.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Weight loss is not easy, but it is a great way to reduce joint pain for people who are overweight or obese. That is because simply walking on a flat surface places one-and-a-half times the force of someone’s body weight on the knees. That force increases to two or even three times someone’s weight when walking at an incline. As such, losing even a little bit of extra weight can greatly relieve pressure on the knees, which in turn can offer pain relief.
- RICE – RICE stands for “Rest Ice Compress Elevate” and it is a common go-to treatment method in sports medicine. RICE works like this: when someone has an injury, they are to rest the injury itself while it heals, which means spending less time placing pressure on the injury. While resting, the person can ice the joint, compress it, and elevate it to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
- Stay active – For people with conditions like arthritis, physical activity can be a key part of managing symptoms. Periodic movement of the knee joint lowers the chance it becomes stiff and can also reduce general discomfort, which is why people should avoid staying in one spot for long periods of time.
- Take NSAIDs – NSAIDs are a class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They include over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). They can reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort.
- Try strength training exercises – Muscles can help reduce the amount of force placed directly on the knees. That means that strengthening exercises, especially ones that target the hamstrings and quadriceps, can help reduce pressure on knee joints.
- Use a walking aid – Like strengthening muscles, using a walking aid can also reduce the force placed on knees while walking.
- Walk on forgiving surfaces – Hard surfaces are unforgiving on knees. For people who enjoy strolls or daily walks, switching from pavement to a track or even grass is generally easier on joints.
- Warm up properly – Warming up, stretching, and cooling down properly can all reduce discomfort and the odds of further injury.
- Wear proper footwear – For those participating in high-impact activities, footwear with shock absorbers can decrease the force placed on knees.
Treatments We Offer
We offer a wide range of treatments for these conditions, including:
- Knee braces
- Injections, including viscosupplementation, steroid, trigger point, and platelet-rich plasma injections
- Physical therapy
- Diet and weight counseling
Conditions We Treat
We pride ourselves on offering top-of-the-line treatments for the following medical conditions:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Walking Help with Knee Pain?
The answer to this question varies depending on what exactly is causing the knee pain. For example, it is best for athletes with a fresh knee injury to avoid placing weight on their injury while it heals. For those with arthritis, however, mild walks can oftentimes help reduce discomfort.
What Exercises Should Someone Not Do with Knee Pain?
Anyone with knee pain should clear any and all exercises with their physician, or the experts at Kneecare Clinics first. That said, usually high-impact activities, such as jumping, twisting, or quickly pivoting, are often not advisable for people with severe knee problems, as these activities may increase the risk of further injury.
Get Started at Kneecare Clinics
Our staff here at Kneecare Clinics can help you get back to doing what you love. Fight knee pain and contact us now or speak to our patient advocate today.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal or medical advice.