There are many causes of knee pain, it can be a recent injury from a sporting game or a fall that has caused a sudden sharp pain in the knee. These should always be reviewed by your GP at the minimum. There are also chronic knee injuries, which gradually build up over time, these are generally associated with knee arthritis or patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Recent studies have shown that people over the age of 65 with knee pain have a link with depression due to their activity limitations and pain at night (1). For this reason, you should always see a physiotherapist if your knee is swollen or painful with walking, standing up from a chair or other activities you do daily.
So what can be done about your knee pain if you are over 45? Isn’t it just knee arthritis for getting old? Can you do anything about patellofemoral pain syndrome?
A 5kg reduction in your weight over 10 year period can reduce your risk of developing symptoms from knee osteoarthritis by 50% (2). We recommend speaking to a specialist on how to reduce your weight to help improve your symptoms in your knee. Another study found for every 1 kilogram you lost right now is 4 kilograms of pressure in the knee you lose (3).
In line with trying to lose weight, it is important to exercise as much as possible without increasing your symptoms. Completing walking, swimming and cycling are some simple activities that can help you lose weight and build up strength.
Targeted strengthening of knee muscles can also help reduce your pain and improve your function. While you are sitting where you are, try and straighten your leg and hold it up for 10 seconds. If you have difficulty doing this, this is a contributing factor to your osteoarthritis, as you don’t have the strength to hold up 5-10kg let alone your whole bodyweight when you walk.
Physiotherapy can also utilise strapping to see if your pain is related to patellofemoral pain syndrome, to reduce your knee pain.
3. Heat and Cold therapy
Ice packs should be used to reduce swelling and pain after completing exercises, from your physiotherapist or your weight loss program. Heat packs can be used in the mornings to reduce stiffness.
We strongly recommend to carefully manage the use of heat and cold therapy, ensuring not to burn yourself. If you feel it burning or anything abnormal stop straight away and remove the ice or heat pack.
If you suffer from knee pain and are over the age of 45 we recommend giving us a call at Rediscover Physio on 0420474447. Have a phone call with a physiotherapist about whether you can build up your leg strength and reduce your knee pain.
1. Sugai, K., Takeda-Imai, F., Michikawa, T., Nakamura, T., Takebayashi, T. and Nishiwaki, Y. (2018), Association Between Knee Pain, Impaired Function, and Development of Depressive Symptoms. J Am Geriatr Soc, 66: 570-576. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15259
2. Felson DT, Zhang Y, Anthony JM, Naimark A, Anderson JJ. Weight loss reduces the risk for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in women. The Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med. 1992;116:535–539.
3. Messier SP, Gutekunst DJ, Davis C, DeVita P. Weight loss reduces knee-joint loads in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Jul;52(7):2026-32. doi: 10.1002/art.21139. PMID: 15986358.