Knee pain is a widespread problem, affecting one in four adults. There are numerous possible reasons knee pain can arise, including arthritis, car accident injuries, sports injuries, nerve pain or damage, repetitive stress, strains, and other injuries.
For many people, this pain becomes chronic. They may have visited multiple doctors and tried several treatments, including prescription medications, without success.
Additionally, some patients may stop taking medication for knee pain because of the side effects. Others might be advised to have surgery but want to know if other options are available before taking such a risky step.
At Optimum Health Rehab, we understand that knee pain can be a severe problem with a large impact on your life, but you don’t want to create additional problems by treating it!
Our pain management specialists will use all the resources in our full diagnostic suite to determine why you’re in pain, then prepare a treatment plan to address the root cause or causes.
Most treatments are drug-free, with few to no side effects, including the latest cutting-edge regenerative therapies.
Find out how you can find relief from your knee pain while improving function, mobility, and overall wellness during your first appointment. Call 877-704-1761 or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation today!
When to See a Doctor for Knee Pain?
Knee pain is a common occurrence, affecting most adults on an occasional basis and causing chronic issues for many.
Doctors may be quick to dismiss knee pain that is not related to an obvious injury, or that may be the result of conditions that become more common with aging, such as osteoarthritis.
However, some types of knee pain can indicate serious health problems, warranting a visit to the doctor for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of knee pain, go to the emergency room or seek prompt treatment as soon as possible:
- Sudden knee pain and dysfunction that makes it impossible to support your weight
- Knee pain accompanied by severe swelling
- Knee pain accompanied by fever
- Deformation in the knee or strange angles for the knee joint
- Knee pain after a loud “pop” noise
See a doctor at the next available regular appointment when any of the following issues emerge:
- Difficulty walking or bearing weight
- Persistent low-grade swelling
- Throbbing, radiating, or shooting pain that interferes with daily activities
- Redness, tenderness, or warmth
- Pain or dysfunction that begins to affect other areas of the body e.g. weakness of the ankle or tingling/loss of sensation in the toes
What Is Regenerative Medicine, and Why Is It Used by Knee Pain Specialists?
Regenerative medicine focuses on helping the body heal, repair, or rebuild its damaged cells, tissues, or nerves. One of the newest regenerative treatments is platelet-rich plasma injections or PRP therapy.
What Is PRP Used For?
PRP is commonly utilized for patients with torn muscles or ligaments, arthritis, tendinitis, and sometimes other injuries.
We may use it for cases of jumper’s knee (Patellar Tendonitis), knee osteoarthritis, or other joint muscle or ligament issues. In some cases, we also combine PRP with other therapies, which we’ll discuss later in this article.
We will ask you questions about your medical history and current health challenges to ensure you’re a good candidate for PRP injections. Some people with cancer, anemia, platelet problems, or infection should not have this therapy.
In some cases, it might be an option in the future if you have recovered from a prohibitive health issue.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
Once we’ve determined that PRP therapy is a good option for your knee pain, we can complete your first treatment in one visit! First, we’ll do a simple blood draw, like you might have if you needed a blood test.
We’ll then place the blood in a centrifuge, a device that spins around and separates different blood components into distinct samples.
Blood is composed of both solids and liquids. The solid part contains white blood cells, which fight infection; red blood cells, which carry oxygen to every part of your body; and platelets, which help the blood clot when you have an injury.
The liquid part is what we call plasma, and it contains water, salts, and protein. Blood cells, including platelets, are suspended in the plasma, allowing us to collect a substance called platelet-rich plasma, or PRP.
In addition to platelets, the PRP also contains high levels of growth hormones and proteins that encourage the healing process. Spread throughout the blood, these factors are diluted, but in PRP, they are collected in a concentrated dose.
Once the PRP is collected, we inject it into the knee to relieve pain. We’ll give you a numbing shot first so you don’t feel anything, and then we may use an ultrasound to find the right location for the shot.
After that, it doesn’t take long to complete the injection. By using PRP, we can get those healing factors directly where they’re needed in a concentrated dose.
After your injection, we’ll ask you to rest for a little while, and then you can go home.
Most people do not have any significant side effects. Some patients have bruising, soreness, or stiffness around the injection site, but these symptoms are generally mild and go away within a few days.
If you need to take something for discomfort, we recommend acetaminophen, as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen can interfere with the treatment.
We will also ask you to avoid these for a few weeks before your treatment, as well as other supplements that thin the blood, like omega-3 supplements or vitamin E.
Most people return to their normal activities soon after a PRP injection. We suggest taking it easy for a few days and being careful not to overdo it.
How Soon Will a PRP Treatment Work?
This depends on several factors, including the severity of your injuries and how much pain you’re in. Some people may feel less pain within a few days, while others don’t see results for a few weeks.
We also find that some patients improve faster if they do physical therapy or take other treatments after a PRP injection.
Other Methods of Treating Knee Pain
While PRP is advantageous for many who suffer from knee pain, it isn’t suitable for every situation. Sometimes we try other treatments first or in combination with PRP, including the following:
As mentioned above, physical therapy is often a valuable treatment for knee pain. At your first appointment, your therapist will review your test results and diagnosis and perform their own evaluation.
They will ask if you have pain and when (for example, when bending the knee, when walking, after sitting still for a long time, etc.) if you have difficulty moving or bending the knee, whether you have trouble with balance, and if you can stand on one leg easily.
Additionally, your therapist may ask you to do simple tasks like walking on a treadmill, hopping on one foot, or bending your leg to see if you’ve lost any functions.
Next, your therapist will devise a plan to help you strengthen your knee and surrounding muscles. This can help you regain lost function and, in some cases, may reduce your pain levels while lowering the risk of future injuries.
During your sessions, the therapist will walk you through specific exercises. They may also use heat and cold therapy or electrical stimulation to help speed up your recovery.
You’ll also receive a list of exercises to do at home. Exercises for knee pain may include hamstring curls, single-leg dips, step-ups, wall squats, leg lifts, and balancing activities.
It’s essential that you take these assignments seriously, as they play a prominent role in how well physical rehabilitation works for you. While the exercises you do in your sessions are also beneficial, much of the work is done at home.
If you struggle with some of the exercises or can’t do them for any reason, please let us know, and we’ll help you find a solution.
Some pain is expected during and after physical rehabilitation sessions. Your therapist may help by using hot therapy beforehand to “warm up” and relax the muscles, followed by cold therapy after the session to reduce inflammation and symptoms of muscle injury after a workout.
But in some situations, patients are in significant pain, and it hinders their ability to do rehabilitation exercises. When this happens, we may give you an anti-inflammatory injection into the joint to relieve your pain.
This is simply a short-term solution to facilitate physical therapy, not a treatment intended for long-term results like PRP.
Sometimes we use electrical stimulation to help rehabilitate the muscles and nerves of the knee, and your physical therapist may include it in your sessions.
In other situations, we may use a portable device like a TENS unit to help relieve your discomfort by interfering with pain signals between the brain and nerves. For patients who have trouble with medication side effects, it can be a drug-free alternative for pain relief.
If we suspect a compressed or damaged nerve contributes to your knee pain, we may perform nerve conduction studies on the knee area. This involves placing electrodes on the skin and running a mild, low-voltage current through them.
If the current moves from one electrode to another too slowly, that often indicates a problem with the nerve. When this is the case, we may bring in a physical therapist to help you find ways to relieve pressure on the nerve, such as moving or standing differently or using a brace.
Sometimes a mobility aid like a cane or crutches can be helpful. PRP therapy might also be used to help regenerate damaged nerves.
Is Knee Pain Treatment Covered by Medical Insurance?
It depends on your insurance company and the specifics of your policy, but in some cases, yes. Physical therapy and neurology services are usually covered by most policies, although there is often a limit to how many PT sessions you can have per year.
Some insurance carriers still view PRP as “experimental” therapy and won’t cover it for that reason. Others will cover it for pain or a diagnosed illness or injury but not for cosmetic reasons (this isn’t usually a consideration for knee pain cases).
If your knee pain was caused by a car accident or any injury resulting from another party’s negligence, you might be able to seek coverage from their liability insurance if your health insurance won’t cover your treatments.
If you’re unsure about fault or whether this is an option, the best solution is to speak with a personal injury lawyer who offers free consultations. They may be able to help you get reimbursement for your knee pain treatment.