Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctors: What's the relationship between blood pressure and knee pain?

Q. I have had high blood pressure for a decade. It has been well controlled with a combination pill that contains two medications. But after I hurt my knee recently, my blood pressure went way up. What should I do?

A. The management of high blood pressure frequently requires adjustment, for a variety of reasons. Blood pressure tends to increase with age. In many people, blood pressure is sensitive to sodium and potassium in their diet. In addition, an injury that causes you to decrease your level of physical activity—like your knee injury did—can certainly lead to an increase in your blood pressure. One of my patients likes to rescue older dogs from shelters. Every time she rescues a dog, her blood pressure goes down from the daily dog walks. When the dog passes away, she becomes more sedentary, and her blood pressure goes right back up. I told her that providing a new home for a shelter dog every time her dog passes away will help her manage her blood pressure.

Another possibility is that you are taking a lot of anti-inflammatory medications for your knee pain, and these can cause fluid retention that elevates blood pressure.

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