As we get older, it can get tougher for our hips and knees to keep up with us in all the activities we enjoy. If you experience this discomfort, you are not alone. Nearly 50% of older adults experience severe hip and/or knee pain.
In this article, you will learn the factors that contribute to knee and hip pain, stretches you can perform to soothe this pain, and other tips and products that can help you minimize discomfort and help you get back to doing what you love!
The Causes of Hip and Knee Pain
Your joints and bones experience more wear and tear the more you use them, so as you age, decades of use can contribute to the weakening of these structures and result in pain. There are factors other than age that may be causing your hip and knee pain, as well.
Causes of Knee Pain
Your knees go through a lot. They bear your weight constantly, absorb impact when you walk, run, or exercise, and bend when climbing stairs or picking objects up. It is no wonder that as we age, our knees can have some pain. Here are some other factors of knee pain you may not have considered.
Often, if we have sustained injuries in the past or currently have an unknown injury, our hurt bodies will be sure to let us know. Pain from an injury is known as acute pain. In other words, acute knee pain is temporary, caused by an injury or procedure, and will not remain forever.
If you notice a sudden severe pain from your knee, it is likely acute pain in response to some form of injury. For instance, if you have fallen recently, you may be suffering from a fracture, dislocation, or sprain that is causing your acute pain. In addition, meniscal injuries or torn ligaments can also contribute to this pain. Infection in your knee joint could also be the cause of sudden acute pain.
If you experience any sudden pain in your knee, it is best to see a doctor. Especially if you had a recent fall or injury, you may have an unknown sprain or fracture that could be the culprit for your acute knee pain. Leaving this injury unaddressed and unattended can result in a world of pain and further complications, so be sure to speak to your physician if you suspect knee injuries.
If you suffer from any form of arthritis or disease, this could be the cause of your chronic knee pain. Chronic pain is pain that persists for a much longer time than acute pain. This is usually more than six months and is typically the result of a disease or chronic illness. For instance, osteoarthritis, gout, bursitis, chronic infection, chondromalacia patella, iliotibial band syndrome, or post-traumatic arthritis can all result in chronic pain in your knees.
Chondromalacia patella is the breakdown of tissue and cartilage around your patella (the kneecap). This can cause your knee and femur to rub together uncomfortably when you move. This condition can cause severe pain in your knee, or a dull aching in your knees. If you’re a runner, you could also suffer from iliotibial band syndrome. This pain often targets the outside area of the knee and is caused by movement of the knee and high-impact activities such as running. The most common cause of knee pain is arthritis.
Causes of Hip Pain
The hip is the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint, and as such, can impact your day to day if you experience pain there. The cartilage surrounding this joint can experience wear and tear, and thus provide less protection to impact as we get older. However, there are other causes of hip pain.
Hip fractures are incredibly common, affecting more than 300,000 Americans over 65. This injury can cause severe acute pain and result in other complications as well. As your bones weaken, your hip bone can become more susceptible and likely to break if you suffer from a fall or injury. Hip fractures occur in the top of the femur, and most fractures must be treated with hip surgery.
There are some factors that contribute to your susceptibility to a fall. If you are underweight, there is likely less bone structure surrounding your hips, which increases your chances of fracture from a fall. In addition, if you suffer from osteoporosis, or have a family history of this disease, you also may be more susceptible to hip fractures. Excessive drinking, smoking, and vitamin D or calcium deficiencies can also contribute to your hip fracture risk.
Stretches To Try
There are various medications and treatments that can help soothe hip and knee pain and reduce inflammation. You should always speak to your doctor if you notice a new or increasing pain in your knees and hips.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to help alleviate pain, and even just stretching has a multitude of benefits as it lengthens your muscles and can alleviate hip and knee pain so you can get back to doing what you love. Listed below is a step-by-step guide to performing the best stretches for your hip and knee pain.
3 Stretches for Your Knees
To perform the hamstring stretch, sit on the floor or on a couch with both legs extended out in front of you. During this stretch, try to keep your back as straight as possible. Slowly lean forward and try to touch your toes.
If you can’t reach your toes, just get as close as you can. Hold this position for a few seconds, breathing throughout the stretch, and slowly ease yourself back to the starting position.
If you have difficulty performing this stretch on both legs at once, try extending one leg at a time and stretching each individually. In addition, you do not have to reach all the way down. If you can reach halfway down the length of your leg, then just perform a half stretch.
The gastrocnemius stretch can be performed by standing in a lunge position. Face a wall and place your hands flat against the surface and lower yourself into a lunge position, letting your hands slide down the wall so they’re directly in front of your face.
As you’re doing this stretch, make sure your feet are pointing straight toward the wall and that your back leg is extended completely so it’s straight. Switch legs and repeat the stretch.
Rectus Femoris Stretch
The last stretch for knee pain is the rectus femoris stretch. To achieve this stretch, find a chair to place one of your legs on. You should be facing away from the chair and have your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your body so your pelvis tips backward. Switch legs and repeat this stretch.
2 Stretches for Your Hips
To perform the Quadricep Stretch, lie down on your side. If you have trouble getting on the floor and back up, you can also use a couch or do this stretch lying on your bed.
As you are lying down on your side, grab your ankles. This should cause your knee to bend and your ankle to approach your buttocks. You should feel this stretch in the front of your thigh extending from the top of your knee to your hip.
If you experience any hip pain while performing this stretch, use a towel to grab your ankle instead of your hand.
Hip Flexor Stretch
To perform the hip flexor stretch, you should sit on the edge of a bed, table, or floor. Raise one of your legs and firmly grasp the back of your knee. Lay down on the surface, letting your arms gently pull your leg toward your body, letting the other leg relax. Hold this for a few seconds, breathing throughout, and repeat with the other leg.
Hemp for Pain Relief
On top of stretching, another easy, natural way to get some relief is to try using hemp extract.
Hemp extract contains cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, and is known for wellness benefits including being able to soothe tension and discomfort throughout the body.
Hip and knee pain can keep you from doing the things you love the most. Being aware of the signs, symptoms, and causes of pain and learning stretches you can perform and pain relief tools you can take advantage of to help alleviate some of your pain can help you get back to doing the things you love.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your general care physician or seek help from a physical therapist to help you navigate these activities and maximize your pain relief.