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Sunday April 24, 2005

The price method

ONE characteristic in many types of joint pain, including knee pain, is inflammation. This is a natural response to injury. Substances that cause inflammation are released in response to an injury. 

Drugs can be used to reduce or stop the inflammation. Overthe-counter pain control medications such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can play a role in the treatment of knee pain. Like all medications, however, these drugs have side effects, and you should be very careful of the doses used. You should not use NSAIDs if you have a problemwith bleeding or stomach ulcers or some types of kidney disease. 

Consult a doctor if necessary Acetaminophen can also be used to control knee pain, but does not have the anti-inflammatory properties of the NSAIDs. Still, this treatment is remarkably useful in many types of knee pain. 

Compression helps reduce swelling in the knee.
In addition, some home care techniques can be used to help control the inflammation, namely protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This regimen is summarised by the memory device PRICE. 

Protect
This can keep the knee from further rauma. A pad over the kneecap, for example, helps to control the symptoms of some knee injuries. 

Rest
This is self explanatory. Rest reduces the repetitive strain placed on the knee by activity. It also gives the joint some time to heal and also prevents aggravation of the current injury. 

Ice
Icing the knee reduces swelling and can be used for both acute and chronic knee injuries. The usual recommendation is two to three times a day for 20-30 minutes each time. 

Compress
This can be done with a knee brace or wrap. Compression helps reduce swelling. In addition, in some injuries, compression can help keep the joint mechanics aligned. 

Elevate
This also helps reduce swelling.It actually helps fluid that would otherwise accumulate in the joint to flow back to the central circulation. 

Professional help
When in doubt, always seek medical help. However, if the pain is niggly, then use your own judgement. A good rule of thumb when you are deciding whether to call the doctor is if your symptoms have not gone away after trying three to seven days of PRICE therapy and over-thecounter anti-inflammatory pain medications. Then itís time to make that appointment. 

This rule can also be applied to new knee injuries that are not disabling. 

Remember, however, that this is only a guide. If you are concerned about the pain, you should call the doctor immediately. 

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