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The Best Non-Surgical Knee Pain Treatments

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A man holding his knee in pain.

Knee pain can be difficult and uncomfortable to cope with. It is important to consider all possible treatment options before deciding on a course of action, and for many people, non-surgical treatments are the best choice for managing their knee pain. Non-surgical treatments can provide relief without the risks associated with surgery such as infection or long recovery times.

Non-surgical treatments are less invasive than surgery, which means they are less likely to cause further damage or irritation to the area. This makes them a great option for people who want to manage their knee pain without the worry of potential complications that may occur from surgery.

Many people aren’t aware that non-surgical treatments can yield faster results than other, more invasive options.

In this blog, we’ll discuss types of knee pain, non-surgical treatments we offer, and the long-term benefits of non-surgical treatments.

Types of Pain in Your Knee

Knee pain is a very common condition, mostly in individuals 40 years old or older, but it can impact people of all ages. Some of the most common types of knee pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder that causes the cartilage in the knee to break down over time. It is the most common type of arthritis and is usually seen among older adults. Symptoms include stiffness, swelling, and pain when moving or bearing weight on the affected knee. Treatment typically consists of physical therapy, medications, and in extreme cases, surgery.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: (Runner’s Knee) occurs when the kneecap does not track correctly over the lower leg bone due to inflammation or misalignment. It commonly affects athletes who participate in running or jumping activities such as basketball or volleyball. Symptoms may include pain behind or around the kneecap that worsens with activity.
  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons which connect muscles to bones. It can be caused by repetitive use or overuse of the knee joint. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, and difficulty straightening the knee joint.
  • Bursitis: This occurs when the bursae (small sacs filled with fluid between bones and soft tissues) become inflamed due to injury or overuse of the knee joint. Symptoms may include pain and swelling around the affected area.
  • Post-Traumatic Arthritis: This is a form of arthritis caused by an injury or trauma to the knee. It is most common in people who suffer from a fracture, dislocation, or ligament tear of the knee. Symptoms range from pain and swelling to stiffness and difficulty moving the joint.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome: (ITBS) occurs when the thick band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh becomes inflamed due to overuse or repetitive movements. Symptoms include pain on the outer side of the knee that worsens with activity.
  • Meniscal Tears: Meniscal Tears are a common type of knee injury caused by a forceful twist or turn of the knee joint. This can cause the meniscus, which is a C-shaped cartilage that cushions the joints, to tear. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, and difficulty straightening the knee joint.
  • Patellar Tendonitis: Patellar Tendonitis occurs when the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin bone becomes inflamed due to overuse or repetitive activities. Symptoms may include pain in front of or around the kneecap that worsens when bending or squatting.

Of course, many other conditions could cause knee pain. If you are experiencing discomfort in your knee, don’t try and diagnose it yourself. Seek medical attention and follow the instructions from your healthcare provider.

A man doing physical therapy exercises for a knee injury.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Knee Pain

Family Integrative Medicine offers a variety of non-surgical treatments for knee pain:

  • Enriched Plasma Therapy: The enriched plasma is injected into the knee joint to help reduce inflammation and promote tissue regeneration. Studies have shown that this treatment can provide patients with long-term relief from knee pain and improve their overall quality of life. EPT is especially beneficial for those who are suffering from chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis, as it is more effective than traditional treatments such as steroid injections or physical therapy alone.
  • Red Light Therapy: In terms of knee pain specifically, red light therapy has been found to increase circulation in the area, helping to reduce swelling and inflammation. It can also help promote new cartilage growth, encouraging healing and relieving stiffness in joints. In addition, red light therapy is believed to reduce pain signals in the nerves, providing relief from acute and chronic knee pain.
  • Ozone Therapy: The primary way ozone therapy treats knee pain is by reducing inflammation and increasing blood circulation to the area. Inflammation is a common cause of knee pain and can be caused by injury, disease, or metabolic imbalances. Ozone increases circulation to the affected joint, which helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Medical Acupuncture: When it comes to knee pain, medical acupuncture can offer several benefits. One of the primary ways it helps is by stimulating the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals produced by the body. By targeting specific acupuncture points in the knee area, as well as distally located acupuncture points, the practitioner can help reduce pain and inflammation, allowing for improved mobility and function.
  • Traditional Chinese herbal medicine: Chinese Medicine herbal liniments and compresses, infused with specific herbs, treat knee pain non-surgically by harnessing the properties of medicinal plants to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and alleviate muscle tension. The herbal components contribute to overall pain relief and support the body’s natural healing processes.
  • Physical Therapy: One of the primary goals of physical therapy for knee pain is to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint. Weak or imbalanced muscles can put additional stress on the knee, exacerbating pain and limiting movement. Through targeted exercises and stretches, a physical therapist can help improve muscle strength and flexibility, which in turn helps to alleviate knee pain and improve overall function.
  • Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care uses manual techniques to mobilize and manipulate the knee joint. This can help improve joint mobility, reduce stiffness, and restore proper movement patterns. Chiropractic care also helps with knee pain through spinal alignment adjustments. Misalignments (subluxations) in the spine may contribute to improper weight distribution and joint mechanics, affecting the knees. These adjustments aim to restore proper alignment to the spine, which can relieve pressure on the nerves that communicate with the knee joint. By improving the communication between the brain and the knee joint, chiropractic adjustments can help the body’s natural healing processes work more effectively, reducing pain and promoting healing.
  • Medical Massage: There are several ways in which medical massage can help with knee pain. First and foremost, massage can help reduce inflammation in the knee joint. By increasing blood flow to the area, massage can promote the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues, helping to reduce swelling and inflammation. Tight muscles and spasms around the knee joint can contribute to pain and discomfort, massage helps relax these muscles, reducing tension and improving flexibility. Trigger points, or knots in muscles, can refer pain to in other areas, including the knee. Massage therapists can identify and work on these trigger points to release tension and alleviate pain. Gentle massage techniques can stimulate the lymphatic system, promoting the drainage of excess fluids and reducing swelling of the knee.
  • Decompression Therapy: When you undergo decompression therapy for knee pain, you will be placed on a specially designed table that allows for controlled, intermittent traction. This traction elongates the spine and creates negative pressure within the knee joint. The negative pressure helps to increase blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the area, promoting healing and reducing inflammation. This can alleviate knee pain by improving overall body mechanics, enhancing spinal alignment, relieving nerve impingement, promoting better circulation, reducing muscle tension, and enhancing joint mobility throughout the body, including the knees.
  • Bracing: Knee bracing is a very effective non-surgical treatment option that can immediately reduce knee pain by providing support, stability, and compression, which may reduce strain on the knee joint, alleviate discomfort, and promote healing. Braces can also help manage conditions like osteoarthritis by improving alignment and limiting excessive movement, contributing to pain relief and enhanced functional mobility. However, not all knee braces are equally effective. Professional grade knee braces have a key that a licensed medical provider can use to adjust the angle of your knee joint if one side is compressing the joint leading to degeneration and ultimately causing pain. By unloading weight off the affected knee and opening the joint space, we can effectively apply regenerative medicine therapies such as PRP that cushion and lubricate the joint, thus effectively treating knee pain for good.

Non-Surgical Treatments vs Surgery for Knee Pain

When it comes to treating knee pain, there are two main options: non-surgical treatments and surgery. Non-surgical treatments include specific therapies, bracing, injections, and lifestyle modifications. On the other hand, surgery is a more invasive option that may involve procedures such as arthroscopy, partial knee replacement, or total knee replacement.

The decision between non-surgical treatments and surgery depends on several factors, including the severity of the knee pain, the underlying cause, the individual’s overall health, and their personal preferences. Non-surgical treatments are generally less invasive and have fewer potential risks and complications compared to surgery. However, surgery may be necessary in cases where non-surgical treatments have not provided sufficient relief or when there is significant damage or deformity in the knee joint.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for knee pain.
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The Long-Term Benefits of Non-Surgical Knee Pain Treatments

Non-surgical treatments for knee pain can offer several long-term benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Avoiding the risks of surgery: Surgery always carries some level of risk, such as infection, blood clots, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Non-surgical treatments eliminate these risks.
  • Preserving natural knee function: Non-surgical treatments aim to alleviate pain and restore functionality without altering the structure of the knee. This allows for the preservation of natural knee function over the long term.
  • Faster recovery: Non-surgical treatments often involve less downtime and a quicker recovery period compared to surgery. This means that individuals can return to their daily activities and routines more quickly.
  • Reduced need for pain medication: Non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy or regenerative medicine injections, can effectively manage knee pain without relying on long-term use of pain medications. This can help reduce the risk of dependence or side effects associated with medications.
  • Improved quality of life: By addressing knee pain through non-surgical means, individuals can experience improved mobility, decreased pain, and enhanced overall quality of life. They may be able to participate in activities they were unable to before due to their knee pain.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Non-surgical treatments are generally more cost-effective than surgery. They typically involve fewer medical appointments, lower medical expenses, and reduced post-treatment care requirements.
  • Lower risk of complications: Surgery has inherent risks of complications such as infections, blood clots, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Non-surgical treatments significantly reduce these risks, resulting in a lower chance of experiencing complications.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of non-surgical treatments may vary depending on the specific condition and severity of knee pain. Consulting with a medical professional is recommended to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for an individual’s specific situation.

FAQs for Non-Surgical Knee Pain Treatments

How does physical therapy help with knee pain?

Physical therapy helps improve strength, flexibility, and mobility in the knee joint. It includes exercises, stretches, and manual therapy techniques to reduce pain and improve function.

What are knee injections used for?

Some knee injections can be used to provide temporary relief and reduce inflammation. They may include corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling, hyaluronic acid to lubricate the joint. On the other hand, regenerative medicine injections like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) stimulate healing for long lasting healing and rapid relief.

How does bracing help with knee pain?

Professional braces for knees only available with a medical prescription are custom fitted by a medical provider and they unload the knee joint several degrees, thus are able to provide noticeable support and stability to the knee joint, which can reduce pain and prevents further injury. They can be used during physical activity or daily activities based on the specific needs of the individual. They enhance regenerative medicine therapies by allowing it to effectively enter the joint space and allowing the knee to heal.

What lifestyle changes can help with knee pain?

Lifestyle changes that can help with knee pain include weight management, regular exercise to strengthen the muscles around the knee, using proper techniques while performing physical activities, avoiding excessive stress on the knees, and using supportive footwear.

Are non-surgical treatments effective for everyone with knee pain?

Non-surgical treatments can be effective for many individuals with knee pain, but the effectiveness may vary depending on the cause and severity of the pain. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for an individual’s specific condition.

How can I alleviate knee pain from home?

At home treatments to relieve knee pain include ice, heat, rest, compress, and elevation. If a lot of swelling is present, the natural tendency is to immobilize it and restrict movement, however it is important to stretch the knee, continue to flexion and extension movements so that oxygen and nutrients can enter and heal the inflammation. But make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any at home treatments.

Family Integrative Medicine can Develop a Personalized Plan for You

Our goal at Family Integrative Medicine is to get to the root of your condition. This allows us to alleviate pain in both the short and long-term.

Whether you need to eliminate knee pain or you’re trying to lead a healthier and active lifestyle, our team of medical professionals are here to help. Give us a call today! 407.751.2192

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