Knee pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems I see in my clinic. Studies indicate that almost 25% of the US population suffers from this problem and it’s one of the most common injuries which brings people to their doctor.
These numbers are even higher for athletes. If knee injuries are not treated properly they can turn into chronic problems often resulting in people taking medications or having surgery.
Treatments for chronic knee problem are expensive and can cost thousands of dollars. Even with insurance patients often have a hard time getting the right care…leaving the person frustrated, confused and suffering through the whole process.
There are about 650,000 knee arthroscopic surgeries done for knee arthritis alone, which is about 3.3 billion dollars spent each year. Add to this knee surgeries done for all sorts of other knee problems and the numbers are in the millions.
Knee pain can range from mildly irritating symptoms like swelling, pain and stiffness which lets you continue your daily activities to severe limitation of movement and pain which is debilitating.
Knee pain can be due to many causes such as injury, osteoarthritis, repetitive strain or overuse of the joint, poor postures and being overweight.
Aging related changes can also contribute to knee pain and injury. Wear and tear of the joint due to the aging process with loss of elasticity and ability of the body to regenerate is another very important factor contributing to knee pain.
For a lot of people in the modern world, lack of activity or under activity is another factor causing muscle weakness and loss of joint flexibility. This results in excessive strain on the joint and surrounding structures causing early degeneration and pain.
This in turn often leads to more inactivity, causing more pain and loss of function.
From the Ayurvedic perspective one of the internal factors contributing to knee pain is poor digestion, accumulation of toxins within the body, deposition of these toxins in areas of injury or weakness (possibly genetic in nature), inflammation and degeneration of the affected tissue.
Poor excretion of waste products…urine, feces and sweat is also a major culprit in accumulation of toxins and poor health.
Also add inappropriate diet for one’s specific body type or constitution and poor life style habits resulting in excessive wear and tear of the tissues.
Environmental factors and weather also play an important role in determining the progression of an ongoing problem.
Multiple factors can contribute to this problem, however one can treat and manage most knee related issue with natural solutions.
Access the natural solution to recover from knee injuries Build Better Knees Recovery Kit.
Practical solutions for knee pain relief
Exercise is a must and it is shown to help the healing process with a positive effect on the injured joint tissues. However, the type of exercise you choose depends on the stage of knee injury.
I always recommend my patients to start with non-weight bearing exercises and build up to weight bearing activities and exercises. The knee is a load bearing joint and when injured doesn’t like loading…specially activities like running, kneeling, squatting, etc.
Exercises in sitting, lying down, walking in the pool, bicycle, etc. are all very helpful to improve strength and flexibility without putting pressure on the knee.
Another added benefit of exercise is weight loss. Less body weight means less pressure on the joints and the loss in fat often results in less inflammation in the body.
Regular massage of the joint with Mahanarayan oil, sesame, almond, or coconut oil and liniments is very helpful for reducing swelling, improving circulation, removing blockages, relieving pain and facilitating the healing process.
This is a must for most of my patients, and is highly recommended in Ayurveda, TCM and Tibetan medicine. There are many benefits of massage: faster recovery, pain relief and even increase in growth hormone production.
Heat: Using a heating pad or soaking the knee in warm water+epsom salt+baking soda+boiled ginger water is another tool I use for my patients for pain reduction, improving circulation, reducing swelling and stiffness to help the injured tissues heal faster.
When done after the massage…definitely speeds up recovery. Stop using ice…use of ice after injuries can actually slow down the healing process.
Bracing or support: Use of a knee brace or ace bandage can be very helpful for supporting and taking some pressure off the injured knee.
I often have patients use a walker, cane or crutches depending on the severity of the injury. This is specially important in the early stage of an injury, when the joint needs most support to allow proper healing and for pain control.
For pain relief, in my opinion it’s best to avoid anti inflammatory medications like non-steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDs), eg. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc. and even use of Tylenol for pain control.
Chronic use of these medications has been shown to cause serious side effects resulting in gastrointestinal (GI) problems, liver and/or kidney damage.
Some research also suggests that anti-inflammatory medications actually impair healing by stopping inflammation which needs to take place after an injury to allow the tissue to heal properly.
Remember inflammation after an injury a natural part of the body’s healing process….designed by nature over millions of years.
Natural secrets for knee pain relief
Sallaki or Boswellia (Boswellia carterii) is also known “Indian frankincense”. This Indian herb is another gum resin like Guggulu and is used to treat various joint pain and arthritic conditions. It is a potent anti inflammatory and pain reliever.
Glucosamine: Most of you have probably heard of Glucosamine (Glucosamine Sulfate) for treating joint pain. This substance is not a pain reliever it’s basically the hardware or food for the joints.
Aging, wear and tear reduces the cartilage covering our joints. Glucosamine can help repair wear and tear to the joint tissue. In my experience about 50% of people benefit from use of this supplement and mostly those with knee arthritis.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids have been show to have powerful anti inflammatory, cardio protective and good for brain health too, etc. These oils are also a good lubricant for the joints. Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are flax seed oil, fish oil, primrose oil, etc.
Turmeric has been used in India and throughout the East for thousands of years. Most people know of turmeric as the spice used in Indian cooking or curry. It gives curry its yellow color.
Two important qualities of turmeric are its natural anti inflammatory function and antioxidant effect. It’s part of many ayurvedic herbal formulations to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis and also used extensively for post injury recovery.
In India after an acute injury turmeric is often given boiled in milk. Externally it is applied after heating in oil or as a paste to the injured area.
It helps the immune system as one of the most potent antioxidant foods. It is many times more powerful than Vitamin E and C, and one of the important sources of antioxidants to fight against damaging effects of free radicals.
Eggshell Membrane Extract: Extracts from the eggshell membrane have been show to be effective for treating pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. The eggshell membrane is the soft protective barrier that sits between the egg white and the shell. This membrane contains collagen, elastin and glycosamioglycans that are important for cartilage and joint health.
Get access to natural solutions discussed in this post here:
- Turmeric natural anti-inflammatory and detox
- Mahanarayan Oil: Mahanarayan oil is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal oil used as a natural anti inflammatory and pain reliever.
- Eggshell Membrane
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Boswellia Serrata (Sallaki)
- Knee Brace for support
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