July was a big month for knee and back health here at Arizona Pain. We explored a wide berth of information from each concerning causes, treatment options, pain-relieving exercises, and even new technologies. We dedicated this entire month to these two categories because pain in these areas can be a common occurrence.

Knee and back health – the numbers

Eight out of ten people will suffer from back pain at some point throughout their lives. Lower back pain is the number one reason for work absenteeism in the U.S. Knee pain is also widespread and it is believed that one out of three doctors’ visits for muscle and bone pain is due to knee pain.

All about the knee

There isn’t much that can be as debilitating as knee pain. It affects over 50 million people! To combat this pain, we discussed some excellent tip, tricks, and exercises for knee pain in our post “5 Knee Pain Exercises.” We also explored some of the common causes of knee pain such as osteoarthritis, iliotibial band syndrome, and knee bursitis. We finished up by talking about common symptoms of knee pain, including:

  • Swelling, inflammation, and stiffness
  • Weakness in the knee muscles
  • Popping or crunching noises in the knee

So why is exercising your knee so important to recovery? Read “Here’s Why Exercise Is Important, Even With Knee Pain” to find out why. As we noted in the article:

“Older adults who do moderate physical activity at least three times a week can reduce arthritis-related disabilities by 47%. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that knee pain should be treated with exercise regiments and knee strengthening exercises. This has been proven more effective then pharmaceutical-based treatments.”

This article also discusses some of the research behind exercising for knee pain. It even teaches you some smart words to live by when exercising the knee. Added bonus: it has some more low-cardio exercises you can try.

Getting started on knee exercises

Still not sure on how to actually get started with your knee exercise routine? In “How-To Get Started With Knee Strengthening Exercises” we go over how to make sure your new exercise goals can be achieved in a smart and safe way. Here are the big takeaways everyone needs to know:

  • Make a plan: Craft a routine ahead of time so you don’t waste time trying to figure out what you should be doing. Having a routine premade along with the right clothes and music can help you keep to your workout habit.
  • Take it slow: The first few weeks are going to be hard. Just take it slow and don’t push yourself and you will see improvement in no time. Make sure you are not in any serious pain while you workout!
  • Don’t overdo it: Don’t push yourself to the point where you feel horrible the following few days.
  • Talk to your doctor: Always talk to a doctor before starting a new routine to make sure it fits with your needs.

But what about back health?

The lower back is the most common source of pain in the back. To try and relieve this we discussed some of the dos and don’t’s of treating the lower back with stretches and exercise. The major idea is to avoid any kind of movements or stretches that apply a great deal of pressure on the back and spine. These include sit-ups, standing toe touches, and leg lifts. It is best to focus on those exercises that stretch the muscles along with being easy on the back. Don’t forget to watch your technique and posture as failing to properly do a stretch can cause more harm than good.

Spinal cord stimulation is a technique that has been around for the better part of four decades that can help with lower back pain. With spinal cord stimulation, a small device is attached to the spine that can block the flow of pain by transmitting an interference signal even if the underlying cause is unknown. While this technique does not block 100% of pain, of the patients that receive a spinal cord stimulator, the majority report at least some improvement in the quality of life.

Have you ever wanted a smart device, application, or video game to help with your back health? If so, you are in luck. In our post, “Technology Is Changing Lower Back Pain Management. Here’s How.” we discuss six of the newest, most innovative technologies dedicated to relieving back pain. These apps range from a simple smart phone app showing various exercises to a wearable device that can, in real time, correct your posture.

Knee and back injections as a treatment option

Back injections can be a great treatment option and double as way to diagnose different kinds of pain. Injections are an outpatient procedure that are usually reserved until medication and physical therapies have been exhausted. This treatment can be completed in 15 minutes. It has been reported that pain relief is instantaneous and can last up to a whole year. However, there are some side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and anxiety.

Knee injections are very similar to injections for the back, but there are three types of injections that are good to be aware of for the knee:

  • Corticosteroid: This steroid injection is an anti-inflammatory that provides targeted relief and has the added bonus of not causing certain symptoms that the oral versions provoke.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This shot was created to mimic the actual naturally-occurring fluid in a healthy knee that provides lubrication. This can eliminate knee pain to a degree and is known to reduce pain and inflammation in the future.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP): This type of injection requires a little of the patients’ blood. This sample is then treated and injected back into the knee joint. It is believed that the growth factor protein in PRP stimulates healing and repair of soft tissues in the knee.

Out of everything you learned this month on Arizona Pain about knee and back health, what was most beneficial to you?

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