Knee injuries are some of the most common injuries experienced by weekend warriors who engage in a wide range of sports. These injuries can include ligament tears, cartilage damage, and other conditions such as arthritis. Knee injuries can be very debilitating due to their impact on mobility and the pain associated with many of these injuries. Knee pain treatment can take a variety of forms, each of which has its own long and short-term positive and negative aspects.
One effective form of knee pain treatment is physical therapy. By strengthening the muscles around your knee, you can take stress off of the ligaments and cartilage that cause most knee problems. This form of knee pain treatment is one of the most successful long-term treatments and can often be combined with other techniques of knee pain treatment. In addition, supervised physical therapy has very few negative side effects as long as the individual does not "overtrain" the area too quickly. Physical therapy, however, is not a "quick fix" and tends to require a substantial amount of time "off the field" in order to be successful. Its primary advantage is its ability to lessen the likelihood of re-injury in the long term.
Orthotics and braces can also be used to help in knee pain treatment. The "knee brace" has become a common sight on many professional athletes who are recovering from knee injuries. This device can help reduce strain on the injured area, speeding up the healing process. A knee brace can also allow athletes with certain types of knee injuries to return to the field of play with only somewhat limited mobility. This is a double-edged sword in some cases, enabling athletes to more seriously injure their knees, particularly in contact sports such as football where a knee brace cannot stand up to the stress of a direct blow from another professional athlete. As is the case with most knee pain treatments, how braces and orthotics are used determines their impact on the professional athlete's long term health and well being.
The final option of knee pain treatment is surgery. As surgery virtually guarantees that an athlete will miss a significant amount of "playing time," many athletes may put off surgery until they have no other option for their knee pain treatment. Oftentimes, this delay in getting surgery results in a much more severe injury and a longer rehabilitation period. It can also result in an acute condition becoming a chronic one. In addition to delaying surgery for their knee pain treatment, athletes will often choose the type of surgery that offers the shortest recovery period, even if it does not offer the best chance of a long term recovery. This can lead to them requiring other forms of knee pain treatment in the future to manage difficulties that a more appropriate surgical option might have solved.
Knee injury-related painkiller addiction is common among athletes. Injections and other medications can also play an important role in knee pain treatment. Anti-inflammatory injections into the joint can often help reduce pain from a knee injury. Some of these, such as corticosteroids, can provide pain relief for several months at a time. The knee pain treatment for some professional athletes involves injections of Hyaluronic acid, which seems to act as both an anti-inflammatory and a lubricant for the knee joint for up to a year. Injected and ingested painkillers are also used for knee pain treatment. They have the advantage of acting almost immediately, enabling players to return to the field within minutes of certain knee injuries. However, this is a disadvantage as well, as an athlete can do significantly greater damage to their knee when they can't feel the pain that an injury is causing them. The pain is a warning to stop putting "wear and tear" on the joint, and, by dulling it with pain medication, a relatively minor injury can quickly become career-ending. Most pain medication for knee pain treatment also has the additional disadvantage of being psychologically and/or physically addictive.