The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD) reports that knee injuries are among the most common sports injuries sustained by athletes nationwide.
In fact, they rank right up there with other common athletic injuries such as muscle sprains and strains, fractures, and dislocations.
Though knee pain is problematic for anyone that must endure it, when it strikes someone who spends a lot of time being physically active, it can make life extra miserable. And if they play within the pro sports arena, it could even take away their livelihood.
So, what can you do help your athletic patients prevent or heal their knee pain so they can stay in the game without having to suffer? There are a few different options to consider, the first of which is chiropractic.
Chiropractic for knee pain relief
Several studies have revealed that chiropractic care is an effective tool for helping with sports-related injury prevention and treatment. One of the most notable studies was published in 2010 in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders and it involved 59 Australian Rules footballers. Twenty-eight of the participants were subjected to sports chiropractic intervention and the rest served as a control.
After almost eight months of individualized treatment sessions, it was noted that, when compared to the control, there was a “significant” difference in lower-limb muscle strains for those who received chiropractic care. Researchers also found that there was a sizeable difference in the number of weeks the control subjects missed due to non-contact knee injuries as they spent more time on the bench than the individuals who engaged in chiropractic.
Another study, this one published by The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, involved 43 subjects with chronic, non-progressive osteoarthritic knee pain. After undergoing three manual treatments per week for two consecutive weeks, “the intervention group reported a significant decrease in the present pain severity.” They also reported improved knee mobility when compared to a control.
At-home relief remedies
In addition to chiropractic, there are also many things athletes can do at home to potentially speed up the recovery process. Here are a few action items to consider.
- The NIAMSD indicates that following the RICE method—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—can help reduce the pain, swelling, and tenderness associated with knee injuries. This involves reducing the amount of activity sustained, icing the knee area for 20 minutes at a time up to eight times per day, compressing the knee, and elevating it so it is above the heart.
- Self-massage. Another at-home treatment method that can help with knee pain, especially if the pain is associated with osteoarthritis, is self-massage according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). To perform this self-treatment, the AMTA indicates that deep gliding strokes with the heel of the hand provide the greatest benefit. Just press four of fingertips into the tissue surrounding the entire knee area, moving the tissue up and down using short strokes.
- Knee-strengthening exercises. Strengthening your knees is beneficial from both a prevention and treatment standpoint while also improving flexibility says and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). This can be accomplished by regularly performing knee exercises such as straight-leg lifts, single-leg dips, wall squats, and step ups.
- Lower body stretching exercises. The AAOS also stresses that lower body stretching exercises conducted after strength training sessions can help ease knee-related pain by increasing flexibility and reducing muscle tightness. Thus, stretching directed toward the quadriceps and hamstrings is part of a comprehensive healthy knee exercise regimen.
- An anti-inflammatory diet. When most people hear the word “anti-inflammatory,” they think of medications. However, Medical News Today reports that an anti-inflammatory diet can also help with knee pain. This consists of adding fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna), berries, avocados, watermelon, grapes, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, olives, and olive oil to a dietary plan.
- Taping the knee. When engaged in activities that use the knee, whether in sports or everyday activities such stair climbing and squatting down, the athlete may also find relief in using tape to better support the knee area. One study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that both McConnell Taping Technique and Kinesio Taping Method were effective for lowering participants’ knee pain levels.
Combining chiropractic with these at-home treatment methods can help the athlete heal his or her injury and return to the sports arena quickly and more effectively.