Just PostedKneePainStaying Pain-Free During Covid-19


Many of you are experiencing chronic and acute pain in your knees right now. Hopefully, not as many of you are out injuring yourselves. But if you are…go home. That is one way to prevent or decrease knee pain. Here are some others:

  • Limit sports activities, such as soccer, football, basketball and volleyball right now. These are activities which can cause injury to the knee, or exacerbate old injuries and chronic conditions. This is especially important right now, not only because you shouldn’t be socializing, but also, if you injured yourself, you couldn’t have elective surgery, and the ER is not a good place to be. Surgery would be delayed, unless you break something, and it’s sticking out of the skin.
  • Be mindful of repetitive strain. Many of you will now be trying out some home exercise programs. Believe it or not, I have already had several patients who have injured themselves doing new home exercise programs! Everything in moderation. Sudden increases in activities like treadmill walking, Zumba, jumping jacks with kettle bells and pushups, can and will cause pain around the knee. Be aware of pain in bones and joints. You shouldn’t work through these pains. Change up the program, decrease the reps, and lighten up.
  • Don’t start running stairs. This could result in pain in the front of your knee, especially if you are a woman. Our knees are not put together for this kind of repetitive activity. If you begin to experience pain around or under your knee cap, avoid the stairs.
  • Avoid repetitive squatting and kneeling for the same reason.
  • I.C.E. (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation) if you do get injured standing in line to get tested for Covid-19. This is an old standby for a good reason. It works. You get injured. Slap an ice pack on it, hike it up on some pillows and take a good rest. Remember…don’t put ice directly on your skin. Even a plastic bag is not enough separation to keep your skin from getting freezer burned.
  • Tylenol or NSAIDs (if you can take them, and choose to)
  • Walking aids such as walkers, crutches, hiking sticks and canes.
  • Just a simple knee sleeve will make your knee feel better and remind your brain to take better care of the knee.
  • Rest! Weight bearing joints do better when we’re not walking on them.
  • Bend and straighten your knees before you go from sitting to standing. This is a common complaint and I have discussed it in a previous blog post.
  • Warmth is appreciated by arthritic knees and chronic conditions. Heating pads and blankets, warm packs, and warming salves work nicely.
  • Women…Sit Like A Man. This is my schtick, and I’m schticking to it. It will help the pain of many lower extremity conditions in women.
  • Don’t let your knee get stiff, while you’re waiting to see a doctor. Unless it is broken in little bitty pieces, there is almost no reason, other than severe pain or a nail in it, to keep you from trying to bend and straighten your knee. It’s very difficult to move it a week or a month later. I have a blog on this as well. Although directed to stiffness in people with arthritis, the rule of thumb applies to us all.
  • Massage, mindfulness, and meditation Rub it. Don’t do things that hurt it, and think of something else besides your pain.
  1. Kevin Pratt

    Hi Barbara ,
    I’m having a positive relationship with right knee at the moment, although I have a meniscus tear , it seems “ fine” . I’m working and managing it, so I can’t wish for anything more at this time .
    Stay safe !

    1. Barbara

      I like the positive approach! It made me think of how we take the generally wonderful function of our bodies for granted. We should be thankful for all the positive relationships we have with our body…even down to the lowly colon. Thanks for the feedback.

    2. Sue

      I too, have a torn meniscus of the right knee. I am interested in what you have done to make it feel comfortable? Will you have an arthroscopy?

      1. Barbara

        I was found to have a degenerative tear of my meniscus when I had surgery for an ACL tear 15 years ago. It was trimmed at the time. But clearly I had it before the injury to my ACL, and was totally unaware of it. I would not have a meniscectomy unless I had tried all other types of conservative treatment, as mentioned in that blog post. If I was old (as I am), and if my X-rays showed moderate or advanced arthritic changes, I would not consider knee arthroscopy. I would instead, wait until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and consider total knee replacement.

  2. Josie

    Thank you so much. I have been “sitting like a man” after reading your post about a month ago and my knee is feeling so much better! And it’s the only change I’ve made. Nobody ever told me that before.

    1. Barbara

      There is no real proof (meaning double blind, prospective studies) that stem cells “work.” And what does “work” mean, in this case? Does it mean, curing a condition, or does it just treat a condition? To me, this is an important distinction. And it’s important to insurance companies too.

      Let me make a comparison. Does insulin “work?” Well, there’s no question, it works to decrease blood sugar in diabetics. But does it cure the condition? Of course not. So does it work? If you stop using insulin, your high blood sugar comes right back!

      Well, insurance companies, by guidance from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons choose the former definition of “work,” when they claim that stem cells don’t work. They say that because it doesn’t fix the problem, then it doesn’t work. They don’t take pain relief into consideration. Therefore they don’t pay for it, so you always have to pay cash. There is no proof that stem cells cure knee arthritis or herniated discs. Injections of stem cells do give pain relief, but in my experience, it’s no better than hyaluronic acid or cortisone injections, which are covered by insurance. Stem cell injections are an option, when other options fail. I had an epidural cortisone injection in my neck for treatment of a nerve irritation from arthritis which caused narrowing of my cervical spine around the spinal chord. It immediately relieved the pain, and 3 months later, I’m still pain free. The cortisone worked! Did it cure my neck problem? No. I still have arthritis in my neck. But it relieved my pain.

      That was a long answer to a short question. Yes, stem cells can relieve the pain of knee arthritis and spinal nerve root irritation, but they can’t cure either problem.

  3. linda groner elmas

    Thanks for the info, riding my recumbent bike and trying to stay sane. Be well, stay safe. Are you in the office?

    1. Barbara

      There are really no supplements proven to have a beneficial effect on an arthritic joint. Many patients say that these supplements help them, but it’s mostly placebo. If you start taking one, and the next day your knee feels better. It’s placebo. It takes about 6 weeks for those substances to get into the knee, once you’ve been taking them a long time, and they pass through your gut, get broken down into essential components, then get absorbed…and so on and so forth. Additionally, most of those bovine products come from other countries, where they have no restrictions to supplements, medications, poisons etc. Then those cows get used for everything else that’s of value. Their bones get ground to dust, packaged up and shipped to the US in shipping containers. It takes a long time for them to get here, and sometimes they get pirated and stay in an African bay for a while, until the contents are ransomed back to the owners, and then they get here, get ground up and squished into pills or powder, of which you have to take a whole bunch on a daily basis, for the rest of your life, if you buy into their efficacy. Try not to injure your knee. Don’t do squats or high impact exercise. Try to stay trim. These modifications WILL benefit arthritic joints.

  4. John Odom

    I do a 3 mile hike each day weather permitting. This is not on rugged hills, but entirely in our neighborhood. Your advice is excellent and I am doing things in moderation in hopes your office will be opening in the near future and I can get shots in my knees.

    1. Barbara

      This sounds like a good plan. While my office is open and you can have a shot if you need one, perhaps you should consider riding a bicycle or swimming for exercise. Then you might not even need an injection!

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