Knee pain is one of the most common problems affecting millions of people living across the United States. It is safe to say that most individuals have experienced knee pain at some point or the other, by the time they reach adulthood. The severity of the ache depends on aspects such as the cause of the pain as well as the affected person’s age and overall health status. There are numerous factors that could lead to knee pain in a person, some of which include injuries, medical diseases, age, obesity, structural abnormalities, lack of strength and limited muscle flexibility, to name a few. Knee pain could either be acute or chronic. Acute knee pain, usually caused by a fall or an injury, comes on rather suddenly and lasts for a shorter period of time. On the other hand, chronic knee pain, usually caused by medical problems or obesity, refers to the pain that takes longer to become evident and lasts for a much longer duration. Bouts of knee pain that come and go, such as recurrent knee pain, are also usually referred to as chronic knee pain.
Contrary to what many people believe, knee pain is not only prevalent in the elderly, though it may be more common in them. This could be due to the fact that there are several knee pain causing diseases that mainly affect seniors, such as arthritis, gout, osteoporosis, patellar tendinitis and Osgood-Schlatter disease, to name a few. Nevertheless, many young men, women, teenagers and perhaps even children have been known to complain of mild to severe knee pain from time to time.
Knee pain on its own can be referred to as a symptom for other underlying health conditions. Based on the causes of the pain, the location and the severity of the knee pain are likely to change. At times, you may also notice accompanying symptoms along with the knee pain, which include:
• Inability to straighten the knee completely, which is usually referred to as “locking” of the knee
• Instability or weakness in the legs, especially the knee area
• Stiffness and swelling around the knees
• Crunching or popping noises that accompany knee movement
• Redness around the knees, especially if the area feels warm to the touch
These symptoms are fairly common in case of knee pain and while they should be treated appropriately, they are hardly a cause for concern. However, at times there may be more severe symptoms that accompany knee pain, which require immediate medical attention, as they are a sign of serious knee trouble. You need to visit your doctor right away, in case:
• You suffer from high or moderate fever that is accompanied by severe pain, redness and tenderness in the knee
• You cannot extend your knee completely or even flex it properly or as normal
• You can’t bear to apply any pressure to the affected knee, which makes it difficult for you to walk
• You fall while walking or even standing, because your knee just “gives out”
• You notice an obvious structural deformity in your leg or your knee
• You see a significant amount of swelling in one or both knees.
Here are some of the common knee pain symptoms that are experienced by patients, and what these symptoms may mean about the cause of your knee pain.
Location of Pain:
Front of Knee: Pain over the front of the knee is most commonly related to the knee cap. Kneecap pain can be caused by several different problems.
Inside of Knee: Pain on the inside, or medial side, of the knee is commonly caused by medial meniscus tears, MCL injuries, and arthritis.
Outside of Knee: Pain on the outside of the knee, or lateral side, is commonly caused by lateral meniscus tears, LCL injuries, IT band tendonitis, and arthritis.
Back of Knee: Pain in the back of the knee can be due to the collection of fluid, called a Baker's Cyst.
Ayurveda’s recommendations for joint pain relief
The Ayurvedic name for arthritic joint pains is Sandhi Vata. As the name suggests, it is caused by vitiation of the vata dosha in the human body. The word sandhi means 'joint' in Sanskrit. Ayurveda believes that Sandhi Vata can be caused due to rheumatism, infections, gout, hemophilia, trauma and even due to digestive problems which result in a buildup of ama in the body.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Joint Pains
1. Alfalfa (Medicago satina)
The alfalfa herb is very effective in the reduction of joint pains. It must be had in the form of a tea four times a day.
2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is the herb popularly known as Winter Cherry in the west. It has several positive properties for the human system. Treating joint pains are included in that list of properties.
3. Banyan (Ficus bengalensis)
The banyan tree produces a sap much like the latex from rubber. This is used as an external application over the joints. This application relieves the pains in the joints after a few regular applications and massages.
4. Bishop's Weed (Trachyspermum ammi)
Oil extracted from the bishop's weed is applied locally on the affected joints to relieve pains in them.
5. Celery (Apium graveolens)
Celery can be used as an effective treatment for rheumatism and gout, both of which can cause pain in the joints. Thus, celery provides more lasting treatment from the problem. The alkaline content of celery makes it effective in treating joint pains.
6. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion is rich in magnesium, an element that is needed for the proper mineralization of the bones. Use of dandelion makes the bones stronger and protects them from pains.
7. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is a very effective remedy for the treatment of joint pains. About five to six cloves of garlic must be eaten every morning to seek relief.
8. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is also one of the best methods in the treatment of joint pains. It must be included freely in the daily diet of the person. Tea made with ginger in it is also beneficial.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Joint Pains
Ginger and garlic are extremely good for controlling joint pains. Some people find the odor of ginger intolerable. In order to reduce the odor, the cloves of garlic could be slightly fried in butter. All bitter tastes are good for arthritis. Hence, people could consume bitter gourd and bitter drumsticks without any worry.
People with joint pains should totally steer away from all kinds of sour foods, since these can increase the vata. Constipation can aggravate the pains. Hence foods that are difficult to digest must be avoided. This also extends to protein-rich foods such as pulses. Foods must not be fried so as not to vitiate the vata further.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatments for Joint Pains
Ayurveda prescribed different kinds of treatments for different kinds of joint pains. When a patient approaches an Ayurvedic doctor, the first thing to do is to ascertain the cause of the pain. Depending on that, the medicines are prescribed.
1. Rheumatic arthritis is known as Ama Vata in Ayurveda. It is caused due to a low digestive fire, due to which ama is retained in the body. For its treatment, first the ama is removed by fasting and purgation if needed. Then a mixture of punarnava, guggulu, galangala and garlic is administered in dosages of one gram per day. Dashamoolarishta is also prescribed in 15 milliliters quantity thrice a day for three weeks.
2. If the joint pain is due to trauma, then Vishagarbha taila is prescribed for external application over the region where the joint pain is felt. For internal administration, the patient is prescribed Rasnadi Guggulu and Guduchi tablets, which are to be taken in a quantity of 250 milligrams thrice or four times a day with water.
3. In people with age above fifty years, a type of arthritic joint pains known as osteoarthritis is observed. This is known as Ashtigata Vata in Sanskrit. For this condition, either Pravala Panchamrita or Lakshadi Guggulu is prescribed. The dosages are 125 milligrams twice a day for one month and 250 milligrams thrice a day for three months respectively
A few natural remedies for relief from joint pain or Arthritis are discussed here.
Six drops each of Chamomile essential oil can be added to four ounces of Carrier oil such as Soyabean, Sesame, Avocado or Almond. These can be added to warm bath and the painful area can be soaked for a few minutes.
Drinking ginger tea at bed time is particularly recommended for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Studies reveal that a vegetarian diet is beneficial in eliminating joint pain and Arthritis to a great extent.
Drinking Black Cherry juice (diluted with water) atleast twice a day has been proven beneficial for relief from Arthritis.
Gentle massage with oils help in pain relief. A little vegetable oil or massage oil can be massaged with finger tips on the affected joint (avoid directly massaging the joint, instead massage just below or above the area) for five minutes daily.
Turmeric, a member of ginger family, has great medicinal properties and heals inflammation and mild joint pain. Ayurvedic experts are of the opinion that turmeric reduces joint pain to a great extent.
Ayurveda recommends a high-carbohydrate diet while cutting down on animal foods, milk and milk products.
Increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids by consuming cold water fish, walnuts or ground flaxseeds are recommended. Even fish oil supplements help in maintaining low protein in the diet.
Consider eliminating certain food categories from diet for a month or two – for instance, avoid sugar intake except for fruits, or avoid citrus fruits, or soy, wheat and corn and observe the difference in symptoms.
Feverfew capsules taken once or twice a day helps due to its anti-inflammatory effect.
Turmeric and ginger being anti-inflammatory herbs are considered as effective in pain relief.
Regular stretching exercises, yoga and meditation are also beneficial.
For joint pain that is not associated with Arthritis, stretching exercises, warmbath massages and rest are recommended.
Home Remedies for Knee Pain
Fortunately, there are many ways by which you can gain relief from knee pain. While there are quite a few over the counter and prescription painkillers easily available in the market, many individuals choose to opt for home remedies for knee pain, mainly because they want to avoid the adverse side effects associated with most medications. There are many home remedies too, through which knee pain can be alleviated for a while. Given below are some of the most common remedies for knee pain:
This is a common remedy used to alleviate pain and swelling in most instances. Ice can be very effective in relieving the pain, soothing the inflammation and bringing down the swelling in the knee. For best results, you need to place a huge ice pack on your knee in such a way that the entire knee is covered. This is probably why most people use a bag of frozen peas. Alternately, you could also wrap a couple of ice cubes in a towel and apply it on to your knee for around 15 minutes or so. However never apply ice to a particular spot for more than 20 minutes, as it could damage the skin and the nerves in that area
Heat therapy is as effective in dealing with pain, as cold therapy is. Therefore, you could sit in a steamy bathtub so that your knee soaks up the warmth from the water, which is excellent for alleviating the pain. Alternately, you could apply a hot water bag on your knee too.
• Massage Therapy:
This technique is very effective in soothing aches and pains all over the body. Gently massage your knee area with some warm olive oil around two or three times a day. Make sure that the massage lasts for at least 5 to 10 minutes at each time.
When it comes to the treatment of many ailments and afflictions, this is one of the most important, yet commonly overlooked factors. However, it is absolutely essential that you refrain from putting too much pressure on your knees at all times. Giving your knee to heal from an injury or an inflammation will prevent a relapse.
You could reduce the swelling in your knee by keeping it raised. Prop your affected leg on a couple of pillows, or sit on a recliner chair, which allows you to keep your legs elevated.