Arthritis of the knee is a painful condition which is often a source of chronic pain that gets worse with age. The primary causes of arthritis are inflammation or swelling of joints, tears in joint tissue, muscle strain and muscle fatigue. The pain associated with arthritis differs from case to case, as no single case of arthritis is the same. Cold items, such as ice packs, reduce swelling and information. Hot items, such as heating pads, soothe sore muscles. The best treatments for an arthritic knee involve alternating hot and cold treatments. Regardless of whether you use dry heat such as a heating pad, or moist heat such as a warm bath, they have the same effect on the area.
- Heating pad, hot water bottle or hot pack
- Tape or plastic wrap
- Sandwich bags
- Menthol gel, lotion, or oil
- Electric blanket or mattress pad
- Flannel sheets
Soak in a warm water bath. Make sure your knees stay submerged so that they reap the benefits of the warm water.
Apply heat to the front of the knee using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or hot pack. Athletes often use tape or plastic wrap to wrap hot packs or hot water bottles on inflamed areas. Place the heat source on the kneecap and wrap the tape or plastic wrap around the back of the knee so that the heat source remains secure.
Ice the knee following athletic activity. Keep the ice on the knee for 15 to 20 minutes and then begin a heat treatment as outlined in Steps 1 to 3. Plastic wrap or tape works for ice as well. Place the ice in a sandwich bag and apply to the knee. Wrap it firmly around the front and back of the knee with plastic wrap or tape.
Massage the knee with menthol gel, lotion, or oil. Massage the lotion onto the kneecap, then the surrounding areas. Menthol gel provides a gentle tingle which helps to reduce knee pain.
Soak the knee in a contrast bath. A contrast bath means soaking the knee in warm water and then immediately switching to cold water before soaking in warm water once more.
Turn on an electric blanket or mattress pad before going to sleep. This helps to minimize sore knees when getting out of bed in the morning. Flannel sheets have also proven to be effective, as they trap heat which helps prevent morning stiffness in the knees.
Run your clothes through the dryer, or place them on top of the dryer each morning. This warms the material which provides heat to the knee.
- University of Washington Medicine; Minimize and Managing Arthritis Pain; January 2005
- "Arthritis of the Hip and Knee: The Active Person's Guide to Taking Charge"; Ronald J. Allen, S. David Stulberg and Victoria Anne Brander; 1998
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