Causes and Treatment of Knee Pain

Knee pain can be caused by a sudden injury, an overuse injury, or by an underlying condition, such as arthritis. Treatment will vary depending on the cause. Symptoms of knee injury can include pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain.

Many types of minor knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Physical therapy and knee braces also can help relieve pain. In some cases, however, your knee may require surgical repair.

Facts you should know about knee pain

Knee pain can be localized to a specific area of the knee or be diffuse throughout the knee.

  • Knee pain is a common problem with many causes, from acute injuries to complications of medical conditions.
  • A thorough physical examination will usually establish the diagnosis of knee pain.
  • The treatment of knee pain depends on the underlying cause.

Symptoms

The location and severity of knee pain may vary, depending on the cause of the problem. Signs and symptoms that sometimes accompany knee pain include:

  • Weakness or instability
  • Popping or crunching noises
  • Inability to fully straighten the knee
  • Swelling and stiffness
    Redness and warmth to the touch

Causes

Knee pain can be caused by injuries, mechanical problems, types of arthritis and other problems.

Injuries

A knee injury can affect any of the ligaments, tendons or fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that surround your knee joint as well as the bones, cartilage and ligaments that form the joint itself. Some of the more common knee injuries include:

Fractures. The bones of the knee, including the kneecap (patella), can be broken during falls or auto accidents. Also, people whose bones have been weakened by osteoporosis can sometimes sustain a knee fracture simply by stepping wrong.

Torn meniscus. The meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it.

ACL injury. An ACL injury is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — one of four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone. An ACL injury is particularly common in people who play basketball, soccer or other sports that require sudden changes in direction.

Patellar tendinitis. Tendinitis causes irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons — the thick, fibrous tissues that attach muscles to bones. This inflammation can happen when there’s an injury to the patellar tendon, which runs from the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone and allows you to kick, run and jump. Runners, skiers, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities may develop patellar tendinitis.

Knee bursitis. Some knee injuries cause inflammation in the bursae, the small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint so that tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint.

Mechanical problems

Some examples of mechanical problems that can cause knee pain include:

Dislocated kneecap. This occurs when the triangular bone that covers the front of your knee (patella) slips out of place, usually to the outside of your knee. In some cases, the kneecap may stay displaced and you’ll be able to see the dislocation.

Loose body. Sometimes injury or degeneration of bone or cartilage can cause a piece of bone or cartilage to break off and float in the joint space. This may not create any problems unless the loose body interferes with knee joint movement, in which case the effect is something like a pencil caught in a door hinge.

Iliotibial band syndrome. This occurs when the tough band of tissue that extends from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee (iliotibial band) becomes so tight that it rubs against the outer portion of your thighbone. Distance runners and cyclists are especially susceptible to iliotibial band syndrome.

Hip or foot pain. If you have hip or foot pain, you may change the way you walk to spare your painful joint. But this altered gait can place more stress on your knee joint and cause knee pain.

Types of arthritis

More than 100 different types of arthritis exist. The varieties most likely to affect the knee include:

Septic arthritis. Sometimes your knee joint can become infected, leading to swelling, pain and redness. Septic arthritis often occurs with a fever, and there’s usually no trauma before the onset of pain. Septic arthritis can quickly cause extensive damage to the knee cartilage. If you have knee pain with any of the symptoms of septic arthritis, see your doctor right away.

Osteoarthritis. Sometimes called degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s a wear-and-tear condition that occurs when the cartilage in your knee deteriorates with use and age.

Rheumatoid arthritis. The most debilitating form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect almost any joint in your body, including your knees. Although rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, it tends to vary in severity and may even come and go.

Gout. This type of arthritis occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joint. While gout most commonly affects the big toe, it can also occur in the knee.

Pseudogout.
Often mistaken for gout, pseudogout is caused by calcium-containing crystals that develop in the joint fluid. Knees are the most common joint affected by pseudogout.

What is the treatment for knee pain?

Treatments for knee pain are as varied as the conditions that can cause the pain.

Medications

Medications might be prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition or for pain relief.

If you are taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medications regularly for your knee pain, you should see your doctor to be evaluated.

Physical therapy

Sometimes physical therapy sessions to strengthen the muscles around the knee will make it more stable and help guarantee the best mechanical movements. Working with a physical therapist can help avoid injuries or further worsening of an injury.

Injections

Injecting medications directly into your knee might help in certain situations. The two most common injections are corticosteroids and lubricants. Corticosteroid injections can help arthritis and other inflammations of the knee. They usually need to be repeated every few months. Lubricants that are similar to the fluid already in your knee joint can help with movement and pain.

MIMI (Multi ion mask insert)

  • Can be worn with any facemask and provides additional heavy-duty protection.
  • Adult & Youth Sizes Available

Prevention

Although it’s not always possible to prevent knee pain, the following suggestions may help ward off injuries and joint deterioration:

Get strong, stay flexible. Weak muscles are a leading cause of knee injuries. You’ll benefit from building up your quadriceps and hamstrings, the muscles on the front and back of your thighs that help support your knees. Balance and stability training helps the muscles around your knees work together more effectively.

Keep extra pounds off. Maintain a healthy weight; it’s one of the best things you can do for your knees. Every extra pound puts additional strain on your joints, increasing the risk of injuries and osteoarthritis.

Be in shape to play your sport. To prepare your muscles for the demands of sports participation, take time for conditioning.

Be smart about exercise. If you have osteoarthritis, chronic knee pain or recurring injuries, you may need to change the way you exercise. Consider switching to swimming, water aerobics or other low-impact activities — at least for a few days a week. Sometimes simply limiting high-impact activities will provide relief.

Keep extra pounds off. Maintain a healthy weight; it’s one of the best things you can do for your knees. Every extra pound puts additional strain on your joints, increasing the risk of injuries and osteoarthritis.

What natural home remedies relieve knee pain?

Over-the-counter pain medications can frequently alleviate the pain. If someone is taking these medications on a regular basis, he or she should see a health care professional to evaluate the knee pain for proper diagnosis and to avoid the potential side effects of chronic medication use.

The RICE mnemonic is often helpful, especially for minor injuries:

Rest: Rest the joint, and take a break from your usually activities involving the knee joint.

Ice: Applying ice can help with pain and inflammation.

Compress: A compression bandage can help prevent swelling and help knee alignment. It should not be tight and should be removed at night.

Elevate: Elevation can help with swelling and resting of the knee.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.