Your knees aren’t getting any younger. Here’s how to keep them in order.

man with knee painAs we age, our joints tend to get sore and achy – especially our knees. Knee pain can affect anyone at any age, but that likelihood skyrockets after 50 years old. It’s easy to accept as a part of life, but it may be time to investigate why it could be affecting you, and how you might manage it.

  • Arthritis. This inflammation and/or swelling of joints is among the most common causes of knee pain, with 1 in 4 adults being diagnosed with it. Typical symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling. In many cases, it is treatable.
  • Baker cysts. The fluid-filled cysts located behind knees can cause a lot of discomfort. Typical symptoms include swelling, bulging and tightness at the site of the cyst, but it’s also possible to have none. While less common than arthritis, baker cysts can exist because of arthritis or torn tissue.
  • Cancer/Bone Tumor. Bone cancer can begin in the bones or spread to them. Some people experience no symptoms, while others may have swelling, limping, fatigue, weight loss or a fracture. Much less common than arthritis and baker cysts, around 0.1% of adults will be diagnosed with bone cancer in their lifetime.
  • Infection. Also known as osteomyelitis (bone infection) or septic arthritis (joint infection), it may occur in the knees or other joints. Infections are caused by bacteria that spread to the affected area. Symptoms include warmth around the joint, redness, swelling and fever. Bone infection is much less likely to occur than the above, but still may affect those who undergo joint surgery, like a knee replacement.

Caring for Your Knees at Home

If you’re experiencing knee issues, there are ways to soothe your joints at home.

  • Rest. Take time away from strenuous activities and avoid putting weight on your knees.
  • Ice. Cool your knee and calm the swelling by applying ice to it. Practice icing your knees for 10 to 15 minutes every hour.
  • Medication. Taking anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen or naproxen, can help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Elevate. When resting, keep your knee raised on a pillow to minimize swelling.

To prevent knee pain entirely, make sure you follow proper warm-up and stretching before physical activity and avoid participating in exercise that puts extreme pressure on the knees.

Risk factors for knee pain include being overweight, having flat feet or overexertion. Talk to your doctor if your knee pain is persistent and does not subside with self-care, or if the pain is too intense to stand on. Options for further treatment may require testing and/or surgery.