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Knee Pain Overview

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Home Care for Knee Pain continued...

COMPRESS the knee with a knee brace or wrap.

  • Compression helps accomplish two goals:
  • First, compression is another way to reduce swelling.
  • Second, in some knee injuries, compression can be used to keep the patella aligned and to keep joint mechanics intact.

ELEVATE the knee.

  • Elevation also helps reduce swelling.
  • Elevation works with gravity to help fluid that would otherwise accumulate in the knee flow back to the central circulation.
  • Prop your leg up when you are sitting, or use a recliner, which naturally elevates the legs. Elevation works best when the knee -- or any other injured body part -- is higher than the level of the heart.

Over-the-counter pain medicine: Commonly used pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), also play a role in the treatment of knee pain.

  • These drugs directly control pain and, at higher doses, act as anti-inflammatory agents, helping to break the inflammatory cycle. Like all medications, however, these drugs have side effects.
  • You should not use NSAIDs if you have a problem with bleeding or stomachulcers or some types of kidney disease.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can also be used to control knee pain but does not have the anti-inflammatory properties of the NSAIDs. Still, this treatment is remarkably useful in many types of knee pain such as osteoarthritis.

When to Call the Doctor for Knee Pain

When you are deciding whether to call the doctor about your knee pain, a good rule of thumb exists for most long-term knee injuries. If your symptoms have not gone away after trying a week of PRICE therapy and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain meds, you should set up an appointment with your doctor, physical therapist, or a sports medicine orthopaedic (bone and muscle) specialist to further evaluate the pain. This rule can also be applied to new knee injuries that are not disabling. Remember, however, that this rule should only serve as a guide. If you are concerned about the pain, you should call the doctor.

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