Knee Pain Relief
Knee pain refers to pain and discomfort on, inside, or behind the knee. Symptoms can be due to acute injury that damages the ligaments or cartilage in the knee or a chronic condition that causes inflammation such as arthritis, gout, or an infection.
Pain in the knee varies in cause and severity but is commonly reported to induce the following symptoms:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Redness and warmth to the touch
- Weakness or instability
- Popping or crunching noises
- Inability to fully straighten the knee
Most cases of mild knee pain go away on their own, assuming rest and care measures are employed. If knee pain doesn’t respond to rest and anti-inflammatory medications, then physical therapy may be required in addition to wearing a knee brace. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary.
Knee Pain Causes
An acute injury commonly causes knee pain, but chronic conditions affecting mobility may be responsible, as well.
An acute knee injury can damage any of the smaller ligaments, tendons, or cartilage found around the knee joint just as likely as the bones, cartilage, and ligaments on the actual joint. The following is a list of the most common causes of acute knee pain:
- ACL injury — occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. The ACL is one of four ligaments responsible for bridging the thighbone to the shin. ACL injuries commonly affect those who play high-intensity sports where sudden directional pivots occur, such as basketball and soccer.
- Bone fractures — There are several bones found in the knee, including the kneecap or patella, that commonly break due to a car accident or sharp fall. People living with osteoporosis can even fracture their knee by doing something as mild as misstepping.
- Torn meniscus — The meniscus is formed of tough, rubbery cartilage and acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. It’s easily torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it.
- Knee bursitis — The knee contains small sacs of fluid called bursae, which protect the outside of the knee joint from allowing tendons and ligaments to slide over the joint comfortably. An acute knee injury may result in pain precisely due to inflammation of the bursae.
- Patellar tendinitis — refers to inflammation of the patellar tendon, a thick and fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones. Tendinitis often occurs due to persistent overuse rather than blunt injury, particularly in those involved in high-intensity sports such as running, skiing, cycling, or sports that require jumping. The patellar tendon bridges the quadriceps muscle to the shinbone. Inflammation and irritation of this tendon result in pain and mobility issues.
- Loose body — refers to a piece of bone or cartilage that’s broken off and rests in the joint space after injury or degeneration of cartilage or bone. The loose body is not inherently an issue until it obstructs the knee joint function.
- Iliotibial band syndrome — occurs when the fibrous band of tissue extending from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee (iliotibial band) becomes so tight that it grinds against the outside of the femur. Those involved in long-distance running or cycling are the most at risk of getting iliotibial band syndrome.
- Dislocated kneecap — happens when the patella on the front of the knee slips out of its original place. Some individuals can witness the kneecap stay dislocated.
- Hip or foot pain — suffering from hip or foot pain can detrimentally affect the way you walk as you attempt to stop putting pressure on the sensitive areas. However, this may emphasize more significant stress on the knee joint resulting in pain and discomfort.
Knee Pain Diagnosis
Your primary care physician typically makes a knee pain diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you questions regarding your injury or symptoms and then perform a physical examination. It’s essential to establish a brief medical history surrounding the symptoms to determine risk factors such as a family history of joint degeneration or inflammation disorders. The doctor will touch the affected knee to determine the severity of soreness or sensitivity. Also, you’ll likely get a tap on the knee to ensure your reflexes are still functional. If your symptoms are suspected to be caused by a more serious and underlying condition, you may be subject to several imaging tests.
The following are a few of these imaging tests:
- X-ray — Used to identify bone fractures and evidence of joint degeneration. Usually, the first imaging test performed during diagnostics.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan — CT scans take x-ray images of various angles and pieces it together to create a coherent representation of the inside of the body. They are used to identify less obvious bone damages, such as small fractures. One type of CT scan can confidently spot gout even during a period when the joint isn’t inflamed.
- Ultrasound — Produces live images of soft tissue structures inside and around the knee using sound waves. The radiologist technician typically conducts the ultrasound and will likely move the camera around your knee to get a complete view of the knee from many angles.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — An MRI creates 3D images of the knee using radio waves and a strong magnet. This imaging technique is primarily used to evaluate soft tissues such as ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.
Knee Pain Treatment
Knee pain relief will mainly be dependent on the underlying cause and severity. The most common remedies you can try at home include:
- Exercise — Being active has been shown to delay osteoarthritis from affecting the joints in the knees. It also helps support the knees by strengthening the muscles and other structures surrounding the knee.
- Fixing posture — Preventing poor posture can help reduce unnecessary stress on the knee joints. When sitting, use a pillow to raise yourself if you need to. Also, avoid resting for long periods of time as this stiffens the joints and can cause pain.
- Maintain a healthy weight — Those who are obese or overweight have a greater risk of knee pain due to the joints experiencing unnecessary stress. Avoid processed foods and added sugars.
- OTC medications — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and pain. These drugs include ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Alleve).
CBD For Knee Pain Relief?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of over 100 known phytocannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Clinical studies are already ongoing to determine cannabinoids efficacy in treating a variety of pain and inflammation disorders.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the famous compound known for producing a distinct high associated with marijuana. However, CBD exhibits practically no psychoactivity compared to THC. As of now, the FDA only recognizes CBD as a medicine for treating seizures. However, current research suggests that CBD may be a safe and effective treatment for knee pain by reducing inflammation and blocking pain signaling.
Can CBD Provide Knee Pain Relief?
In short, yes, CBD may help alleviate symptoms of pain from knee problems. Current research suggests that cannabidiol can help reduce pain by blocking pain signaling and reducing inflammation. This is believed to be due to CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabidiol increases the concentration of neurotransmitters and endocannabinoids that the body naturally produces.
Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that’s released when the body senses pain, it binds to the CB1 receptor and stops the signaling of pain. Well, CBD prevents the body from breaking down anandamide. This may explain how cannabidiol provides pain relief because anandamide normally lasts a mere two minutes before being broken down.
One study found that CBD may be an effective and safe treatment option for those with osteoarthritis, one of the most common causes of knee pain. Cannabidiol blocked the pain from osteoarthritis and actually prevented nerve damage and pain from developing later on.
A review article found that preclinical and human data on cannabidiol shows solemn promise as a treatment for joint pain.
How To Take CBD for Knee Pain Relief
You can consume cannabidiol in several different ways using various products ranging from oils to edible candies.
Tinctures containing CBD usually contain a dropper for accurate dosing. To consume, place a few drops of the tincture under the tongue and allow it to sit for 60 to 120 seconds. This is known as the sublingual method and is one of the quickest ways to get cannabidiol into the bloodstream. It takes about 20 minutes for the effects to occur.
CBD is commonly infused into edibles such as gummy bears, cookies, brownies, chocolates, and more. These are usually tasty and convenient since there’s a large portion of people who are apprehensive about smoking or vaping. The only issue with edibles is that it takes a while for the effects to kick in. Digesting CBD takes a while and may take several hours, which can be frustrating.
You could also locally apply a topical product containing CBD, such as a cream, salve, or balm. The goal is for the product to penetrate the skin to deliver cannabidiol. However, no studies are confirming whether these products actually go through the skin. Also, be aware that it’s common for companies to add ingredients to their topicals. These additional ingredients can include things like vitamin oils, alcohols, or cinnamon.