It was supposed to be the perfect outing. A family afternoon at the beach. You step on the sand and it happens — a sudden knee pain strikes and ruins the fun. Now, you are hobbling. You can't take a jog or play frisbee with the kids. Frustrated and a little embarrassed, you sit down to think about what went wrong. Do I have bursitis of the knee? Is it knee arthritis? Does this feel like jumpers knee or runners knee? Why do my knees hurt?
This scenario plays out all of the time, and is not just age-related. This type of knee pain without injury even has a name. Sudden patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS for short. Should we give up playing? No. This can happen to anyone. You just need to figure out what is really plaguing your knees and why they are screaming at you.
The good news is that you can treat some non-traumatic knee injuries quickly and safely at home. (Of course, if you are really worried about your knee, please see a professional and get evaluated.)
Your ticket to PFPS knee pain relief could be closer than you think. You may find that patellofemoral pain syndrome treatment may not involve any costly surgeries, physical therapy, or ongoing prescription drugs. All it may require, is a little bit of self-care.
What causes knee pain without acute injury? Let's look at some of these underlying causes behind this debilitating pain.
Common Causes of Sudden, Sharp Knee Pain
Knee pain comes from a variety of places. Knees are heavily used joints for everyday mobility and when poorly cared for, they are often injured. Before we dive further in, let's not forget that the knee joint is also very durable due to its ligamentous structure and limited articulation. Just look at a few professional football players and witness the amazing things their knees can do!
A rare few of us are pro athletes. The rest of us are not pushing ourselves to the absolute limits of human performance. You probably don't think about your knees until they hurt. Don't worry, though. This article will give you a great foundation for improving your knee health and wellness so you can put the spring back in your step!
From our research and experiences, sudden knee pain (without direct trauma) is commonly caused by one or a combination of the below reasons.
REPETITIVE HIGH IMPACT ACTIVITY: Any kind of high impact activity like football, soccer, trail running, etc., can lead to knee pain after some time. Sports where you must run, cut, and turn quickly test the knee menisci, ligaments and tendon attachments surrounding the joint. The sudden pain you get in your knees on your off days could mean that it's time for a short break. Listen to your body and rest accordingly. Then, take notice if your knees feel better, worse, or the same. If there's improvement with rest, then add rest days to your exercise schedule to boost your recovery.
TIGHT THIGH MUSCULATURE: The hamstrings and quadriceps are two of the most important muscle groups for joint articulation. Unfortunately these two groups can easily become overworked, resulting in a feeling of tightness or stiffness in the knee. When the knee capsule is tight, it hinders joint freedom and laxity. Range of motion suffers and the additional pressure plagues the knees with incessant pain and discomfort. Although it can feel like arthritis, once the muscle spasms are released, this type of knee joint pain will go away.
EXCESS WEIGHT: Our legs get stronger with exercise, but being overweight can put unnecessary forces on our knees that they simply can't handle. Fat cannot support joints, so muscles are working extra hard to handle the extra stress. Too much stress on the knees over a long period of time will damage the ligamentous attachments, bursa, and menisci. Arthritis will set into a joint that is incapable of bearing loads adequately. A good rule of thumb is that for every pound of additional weight on the upper body, the knees must withstand two to three pounds of force. So, losing a little bit of weight is twice as great for the knees!
LEG MUSCLE WEAKNESS: Similar to having knee pain from tight thigh muscles, having weak leg muscles can cause your legs to overcompensate when walking or engaging in activity. Weak leg muscles can also lead to more joint laxity as there's less of an ability to stabilize the patellofemoral joint. This can result in knee pain. Weak knees will also make you more susceptible to injury. So, if you already know you have weak knees, strengthen them! And don't perform quick, powerful movements such as jumping, until you can build enough strength to do them safely!
Remedies for PFPS & Knee Joint Pain Relief at Home
You may be able to completely recover when you treat your knee pain at home. These natural home remedies for knee pain should always be your 'plan A' to kickstart your body's healing mechanism. That's not to say that you won't need to see your favorite medical professional. You can definitely use these home remedies in conjunction with the doctor's orders. Besides, these natural ways to treat PFPS will always be helpful for your knees, no matter what pain you are in!
A Warm Bath (Hydrotherapy)
It might sound simple, and it is. A warm bath can do wonders for your joints and muscles. Submerging your body in warm water stimulates blood flow by opening blood vessels. This allows your muscles to more easily relax and more importantly, allows the fluid surrounding your joints to unfreeze and start moving again.
Hydrotherapy can be especially helpful if your knee pain stems from a muscle-related matters, such as stiff thigh muscles. For an added bonus, use some calming bath salts or epsom salts to boost your body's healing ability and further your relaxation. If you want to get crazy, try balneotherapy and head for your local mineral springs resort and spa!
Runner's Stretch and Forward Fold Stretch
Stretching for 5 to 10 minutes before any kind of strenuous activity can prepare your muscles for work and reduce the likelihood of injury. Stretching after training is great to help calm muscles down and retain flexibility.
The runners stretch helps your knee joint range of motion during flexion. Your quadriceps muscles can regain elasticity and regular stretching will lower your chances of injury.
Stretch your quads by standing upright and pulling your lower leg behind you with the same side hand. From there, pull your heel towards your buttocks. Make sure your knee is pointing downward during this process. You will feel the stretch in the front of the thigh when done correctly. Hold this for 30 seconds and then switch. Repeat often.
It's also important to stretch your hamstrings. You can do this by sitting with both legs extended straight out. Point your toes toward the ceiling and lean forward, hinging at the hip. Grab your toes with your fingers, if you can. To intensify the stretch, pull your toes toward you and dorsiflex the ankle, letting your hamstrings elongate further. Once again, hold this for 30 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds. Repeat often.
Neoprene Knee Sleeves
Neoprene wraps, neoprene knee sleeves, or knee compression sleeves are a great way to reduce knee swelling and pain following an injury. Being an excellent insulator, neoprene keeps your knee and the surrounding area warm. Not only this, it also improves joint stability by acting as a soft brace to support the knee.
If you're actively experiencing knee pain or have a knee that's prone to pain and want to prevent it, try wearing a knee sleeve or brace before any kind of physical activity. There are also patellar specific knee sleeves that will support the patella for those suffering from pain in the kneecap. Not all knee sleeves are the same, but in any case, when used properly, these devices can move swelling and provide muscular support for a speedy recovery!
Ginger Extract for Knee Arthritis Pain
Ginger is often known for its potent, vibrant flavor. While this is true, ginger also has a lesser-known quality: the ability to ease pain in the body.
In a study performed on those suffering from osteoarthritis (OA), it was found that ingesting ginger extract significantly helped naturally reduce knee joint pain. If you're suffering from any sort of knee pain, you can try ginger root tea or put it in your favorite cuisine to combat your pain naturally. Be aware that some stomachs love ginger, while others will get a little gastrointestinal upset!
A Great Massage
We believe in the value of massage therapy to address muscular dysfunction. A great massage therapist should not be underestimated. A proper massage session should be able to reduce swelling, improve blood circulation, reduce cortisol levels, reset Golgi tendon organs, stimulate the Vagus nerve and send your body into parasympathetic mode for accelerated recovery.
If you can't get in to see your favorite sports massage therapist yet, you can apply your favorite pain cream to the quadriceps, hamstrings, and back of knees. Either use your hands to massage these body parts, or follow the stretches above for at least a good half hour. Afterwards, throw on your knee sleeves and relax! Your knees will thank you!
Combine a great massage with the use of a clean, all natural and organic topical pain relief cream like Battle Balm to really get the job done and promote lasting pain relief. With fast acting, effective pain relief that's full of antioxidants and skin healthy nutrients, you can't go wrong with Battle Balm.
If you're suffering from sudden patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS, look at these causes first:
Repetitive high impact activity
Tight thigh musculature
leg muscle weakness
If you are looking for natural solutions to PFPS, try these things first or in conjunction with your medical professional's orders:
A warm bath (aka hydrotherapy)
Runners stretch and forward fold stretch
Neoprene knee sleeves
Ginger extract for knee arthritis pain
A Great Massage
Sudden knee pain is something that you shouldn't take lightly. Manage it safely and naturally before it gets worse. If pain continues over longer periods of time, there can be soft tissue damage and arthritis that will set in. Use the above techniques and get rid of your knee pain today.
We don't just sell natural pain relief cream. Natural pain relief is what we do.
2. Fernandez-Gonzalez M, Fernandez-Lao C, Martin-Martin L, et al. Therapeutic Benefits of Balneotherapy on Quality of Life of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(24):13216. Published 2021 Dec 15. doi:10.3390/ijerph182413216
3. Mason, Marjon, Keays, Susan L., Newcombe, Peter A. The Effect of Taping, Quadriceps Strengthening and Stretching Prescribed Separately or Combined on Patellofemoral Pain. https://doi.org/10.1002/pri.486
4. Smith, T. O., Drew, B. T., Meek, T. H., & Clark, A. B. (2015). Knee orthoses for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2015(12), CD010513. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010513.pub2
5. Altman, R. D., & Marcussen, K. C. (2001). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis and rheumatism, 44(11), 2531–2538. https://doi.org/10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11<2531::aid-art433>3.0.co;2-j
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