What are the Best Treatments for Chronic Knee Pain?

Dan Cavallari

Treatments for chronic knee pain will vary according to the specific cause of the pain. One of the most common causes of chronic knee pain is arthritis, which has no cure. Several steps can be taken to lessen the pain and make sure daily tasks are not effected by it, however, and this treatment may include medications, physical therapy, regular exercise, and rest. In extremely severe cases of arthritis, the knee may need to be replaced entirely. Other causes of chronic knee pain may include overuse, underuse, ligament sprains and tears, tendinitis, fractures, and meniscus tears.

A diagram of the knee.
A diagram of the knee.

Athletes and other people who exercise regularly may be more susceptible to chronic knee pain than others. An incorrect running or walking gait, for example, can lead to muscle strains, ligament sprains, tendinitis, or tenderness due to overuse. Corrective footwear may help straighten out a bad gait, and knee braces can help support the ligaments that are sprained or otherwise damaged due to overuse or incorrect use. Tendinitis occurs when the tendons that connect muscles to bones become inflamed, leading to pain in the affected area. Such a condition is often treated with anti-inflammatory medications, rest, immobilization, and eventually physical therapy.

Someone with  chronic knee pain should avoid running, as the repeated impact can put excess stress on joints.
Someone with chronic knee pain should avoid running, as the repeated impact can put excess stress on joints.

Fractures occur when the leg endures a burden that the muscles and the bones cannot handle. The bone will therefore crack, leading to pain that can be quite intense. Chronic knee pain may result if the fracture does not heal properly and begins to affect normal movement in the joint. If the injury occurred recently, a person can visit a doctor to see if there are options for correcting the healing fracture, such as surgery or re-breaking the bone. Such processes are likely to be quite painful, and they will require a significant amount of recuperation time followed by physical therapy.

A knee brace can be helpful for certain kinds of chronic knee pain.
A knee brace can be helpful for certain kinds of chronic knee pain.

Chondromalacia, or runner's knee, can affect anyone who does a significant amount of running or walking throughout the day. This chronic knee pain occurs when the surface underneath the kneecap becomes irritated, usually as a result of the kneecap rubbing on another bone in the joint. This condition is very common among athletes, especially athletes who repeatedly absorb shock with the legs. Young people are more susceptible to the condition, and treatment may take several weeks or months. Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed, and the RICE treatment should be used: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the condition persists, it is important to see a doctor immediately.

An incorrect running gait can lead to muscle strains or sprains.
An incorrect running gait can lead to muscle strains or sprains.
Physical therapy is a possible treatment for several chronic knee injuries.
Physical therapy is a possible treatment for several chronic knee injuries.
Painkillers can provide temporary knee pain relief.
Painkillers can provide temporary knee pain relief.

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