More than 100 million Americans are currently living with some form of knee pain. Many of them treat their pain with drugs, cortisone injections or even surgery. Of course, they then have to deal with all the side effects – and expenses – that go along with these treatments.
Knee pain can be caused by a health condition, injury or just wear and tear. Knee ligaments can be torn or cartilage can wear down, causing pain with movement or while resting. Both types of injuries can take years to heal.
The good news is that you don’t have to rely on drugs and other medical interventions. Sports medicine doctors have a completely different way of relieving knee pain – so that it doesn’t return.
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In 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of COOLIEF Cooled Radiofrequency (RF) thermal treatment device for treating osteoarthritis of the knee.
Cooled radiofrequency (RF) treatment involves a device that uses RF energy to treat the sensory nerves causing pain in the knees, especially in people with osteoarthritis.
Water is circulated through the device, which heats the nerves and surrounding nerve tissues.
RF treatment has already proven to be highly successful in arthritic patients. A randomized study recently compared groups of patients with osteoarthritis. One group was treated with Cooled Radiofrequency treatment, and the other with steroid injections to the knee. After six months, only 5% of the group treated with Cooled RF reported the same severity of knee pain, compared to 37.3% of the group treated with steroids.
By the end of the study, an impressive 74% of the Cooled RF patients said their pain was reduced by half.
Other clinical studies have shown that the radiofrequency device can provide up to 24 months pain relief with improved physical function, as well as a reduction in medication.
Blocking the Pain
Under X-ray guidance, pain medicine physicians can inject numbing medication that blocks or dampens pain, and might even stop chronic pain from developing. The location of the injection depends on the source and type of pain.
For example, pain in the arm or face can be relieved by blocking nerves in the neck. Chronic abdominal pain or pain from cancers such as pancreatic cancer can be relieved by an injection into nerves supplying the abdomen. Relief may require a series of injections and may need to be repeated.
Physicians and dentists began using Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in the 1800s, but the technique wasn’t accepted by the medical world until a study was published in 1967 about the ‘gate theory of pain’. The study showed that using high-frequency electric stimulation at an intensity of 100 Hz was able to activate large afferent fibers and reduce neuropathic pain in 8 patients.
Although researchers are quite sure why TENS works, it’s been used effectively in many patients over the past few decades. The physician applies TENS at varying frequencies, intensities, and pulse durations of stimulation. The level of intensity is determined by the response of the patient as either sensory level TENS (where the patient can feel a tingling) or motor level TENS (where the muscle responds by moving).
Numerous studies have shown that TENS is highly effective in temporarily relieving pain of the peripheral and central nervous system mechanisms. One theory is that the electric pulses interrupt the nerve signals to the brain, or stimulate the production of “feel good” endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
Taking the weight off your knees can be as simple as building extra strength in your thighs. The leg muscles are weak, the knee takes on more weight, increasing pain and instability. Preventing and treating wear and tear in the knees can be a matter of building up the muscles in the front and back of the things (quads and hamstrings).
Studies have shown that Strengthening the hamstring muscles in addition to strengthening the quadriceps muscles is beneficial not only for reducing knee pain, but for increasing range of motion and decreasing the limitation of functional performance. It’s especially recommended for patients with knee osteoarthritis or long-term wear and tear.
It’s best to consult a physical therapist or personal trainer before embarking on a leg-training routine. However, these easy, low-impact exercises will help you ease into building up some muscle.
Wall slides: Press your spine against the wall and slide into a sitting position as far down as you can go without pain. Hold for a few seconds, then slide back up. Work up to longer holds and more reps.
Short Arc Quad Strengthening
Lie on your back with your knee resting on a rolled towel. Tighten your thigh muscles while lifting and straightening your knee slightly. Hold for five seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Want to get off the steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs? The above techniques have already given thousands of knee-pain sufferers a new lease of life. You have nothing to lose by trying them!