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.
A topical hemp extract salve or hemp extract roll on can work wonders from the outside, while taking hemp extract drops or hemp extract gummies can help from the inside.
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.
Begin by sitting on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you. Then, bend one knee across the opposite leg and push down on said knee with your hand – you should feel this stretch in both your hips and knees! Repeat these directions on both sides to get a full stretch.
- Elliptical training.
- Cross-country skiing.
External hip rotation (stretch)
Press your knees down towards the floor using your hands as needed. Alternatively, lie on your back and part your knees, keeping your feet together. Take the movement up to the point you feel a stretch, hold for around 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 5-10 times.
Hip pain and knee pain is often caused by an over-use injury from a repetitive motion. Such as swinging a golf club or tennis racquet. Surprisingly, even a less strenuous activity like gardening can cause a pain in the knee or hip pain. Other common causes include osteoarthritis, bursitis, or an injury or fall.
- Straight Leg Raises. If your knee's not at its best, start with a simple strengthening exercise for your quadriceps, the muscles in the front of the thigh. ...
- Hamstring Curls. These are the muscles along the back of your thigh. ...
- Prone Straight Leg Raises. ...
- Wall Squats. ...
- Calf Raises. ...
- Step-Ups. ...
- Side Leg Raises. ...
- Leg Presses.
- Lying Hip Rotations. This easy warmup exercise will get you into the rhythm of your hip exercise routine. ...
- Piriformis Stretch. ...
- Butterfly Stretch. ...
- Frog Stretch. ...
- Kneeling Lunge. ...
- Squatting Internal Rotations. ...
- The Cossack Squat. ...
- 90/90 Stretch.
A large percentage of the population has dysfunctional hip flexor muscles as a result of poor posture, faulty biomechanics, sitting too much and/or stress. This can lead to pain in not only the lower back area, but the knees, ankles and feet as well.
Walking is the best way to begin the transition from inactivity to activity—even if you have arthritis in a weight-bearing joint like your knee or hip. Walking is a low-impact activity that can help relieve arthritis pain, stiffness, and swelling, but that's not the only reason walking can be a great form of exercise.
Hip arthritis can also cause knee pain even when there is nothing wrong with the knee. The nerves that supply the knee run past the hip and are affected by the inflammation around the hip. Typically, both the groin and knee pain associated with hip arthritis dramatically improve after hip replacement.
5 Hip Pain Relief Stretches & Exercises You Can Do In Bed
- Rest. Take a break from your normal activities to reduce repetitive strain on your knee, give the injury time to heal and help prevent further damage. ...
- Ice. Ice reduces both pain and inflammation. ...
- Heat. ...
- Compression. ...
The most likely is a condition called iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. This condition can cause pain from the hip to the knee on the outside of your leg, but it can also cause several other symptoms, too.
- prescribed or over-the-counter pain relief medication.
- weight management.
- massage therapy.
- physical therapy.
- chiropractic adjustments.
- muscle relaxers.
- a cane or crutches.
Walking is good for hip pain and you should try to walk as much as you can each day. You'll find that in time and with consistency, your hip pain will diminish, and in a best case scenario, it will disappear altogether.
- Kneel on your right knee.
- Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Drive your hip forward. ...
- Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 2 to 5 times with each leg, trying to increase your stretch each time.
However, if the hip is tight or lacks the flexibility to turn inward at the same time, then a tug-of-war ensues between the upper and lower leg and the knee joint is caught in the middle. This stress to the knee can lead to pain and dysfunction.
- A sharp or sudden pain in the hip, pelvis or groin area.
- Cramping, tender or sore muscles along the upper leg.
- Swelling or bruising on the hips or thigh.
- Pain in an adjacent muscle group, like your glutes or core.
- Decreased strength along the groin area.
While a mild hip flexor strain can take just a few weeks to heal, it may take more than 6 weeks to recover from a more severe strain.