If your knees hurt often, it may be due to an old injury, osteoarthritis or another medical condition. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your pain.

Of course, you’ll want to see a doctor to find out what’s causing the problem, but knowing which things to do and which to avoid can contribute to your feeling better long term.

Here are 7 do’s and don’ts for beating knee pain:

  1. Exercise the right way. You want to build up the muscle tissue around your knee joints to help support them, and you can do that with stretching exercises and a routine that helps you gradually build up strength. However, you’ll want to avoid activities that exert a lot of pressure on your knees or result in them taking repeated impacts, like running and sports that involve a lot of jumping or kicking.
  2. Manage your weight. The more your body mass, the greater the strain placed on your knees. Since they support your entire frame, anything you can do to reduce the load they must bear will help reduce your pain. Even losing a little weight will help.
  3. Quit smoking. Surprisingly, nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco products can damage your connective tissue, the material that holds your muscles and bones together. You knew it was bad for you, but did you realize it can damage your knees too?
  4. Invest in good shoes. The right shoes help support your body and prevent injury to your knees. Worn out shoes, shoes without appropriate cushioning and arch supports, or those that throw you off balance can make your pain worse. While those stilettos or sleek Italian loafers may look good, you may be groaning in pain by the end of the day.
  5. Use the “RICE method.” Try rest, ice, compression and elevation when the pain gets bad. Cut back on your activity, apply a cold pack, wear an elastic bandage and prop up your knee when sitting. Do be careful, however, not to apply ice for too long or you may give yourself frostbite. And if your leg starts to swell or your knee starts to throb from the compression wrap, loosen it.
  6. Be sure not to fall. Falling on a knee that’s already hurting is going to make matters much worse and may do severe damage. If your doctor has recommended a cane or walker, use it. Be careful in the shower—use a handrail, if you have one, and get a non-slip bath mat. Always think about where you’re stepping before you start moving.
  7.      Don’t stop moving. While you don’t want to try to “power through” if you’re experiencing knee pain, you also don’t want to stop moving altogether. Check with your doctor to find out which exercises are safe to do if your knees are hurting a lot or healing from an injury.

Your physician may prescribe medication, or even surgery in the most extreme cases. All these things can help your knee pain. But don’t forget you can also help your knees yourself with informed self-care.

If knee pain is getting you down, call the experts at Flexogenix.