Knee Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Exercises

knee pain

Do you suffer from knee pain every time you go for a walk, jogging, or doing a certain exercise?

You might be having issues with the knee joint. Knee pain is most commonly associated with the general wear and tear of the ligaments and tissues in your knee.

It most often results from daily activities like walking, bending, standing, or lifting,

Moreover, athletes who run or play sports that consist of jumping or quick pivoting of the knee joint are more likely to experience knee pain.

However, whether the cause of your knee pain is aging or other underlying medical conditions, it can make your day-to-day activities hard.

Additionally, it can be debilitating and a nuisance in some situations.

It is important to note that you might have knee pain for short periods of time or for long periods of time.

Both the symptoms of short and long-term knee pain vary, and the causes of them can also be different.

Keep on reading to learn more about knee pain.

Anatomy of the Knee

Your knee is a vulnerable joint that deals with stress from everyday activities.

These activities include kneeling and lifting as well as high-impact activities like jogging and aerobics.

The human knee consists of the following parts:

Tibia: It is the shin bone or larger bones of your lower leg.

Femur: This one is the thighbone or the upper leg bone.

Patella: Is the knee cap.

Cartilage covers each bone end and has the ability to absorb shock and protect your knee.

anatomyMoreover, the knee is consists of 2 long bones that are held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

It is important to note that there are 2 groups of muscles involved in the strengthening of your legs.

These are quadriceps muscles, located on the front of the thighs, and the hamstring muscles located on the back of your thighs, that helps to bend the leg at the knee.

Additionally, tendons are the tough cords of tissues that connect muscles to your bone, while ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone.

Some ligaments on the knee provide stability and protection to your knee joint.

While other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia, i.e. shin bone.

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Causes of Knee Pain

There are a number of causes of knee pain and they can cause both short and long-term knee pain.

These are injuries, mechanical problems, types of arthritis, and other problems.

Let’s discuss them as follows:

Injuries

A knee injury can affect any of the ligaments, tendons, or fluid-filled scares or bursae that surround your knee joint.

It can also affect your bones, cartilage, and ligaments that form the joint itself.

Some of the common knee injuries are as follows:

ACL Injury: This injury is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligaments, ACL. It is 1 of the 4 ligaments that connect your shinbone to the thigh bone.

An ACL injury is common in individuals who play basketball, soccer, or other sports that require a sudden change in direction.

Fractures: The bones of the knee, as well as the kneecap or patella, can break if you fall or due to accidents.

Moreover, if you have weak bones due to osteoporosis, it can also sustain a knee fracture by simply stepping in the wrong direction.

Torn Muscles: The meniscus is tough, rubber-like cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the shinbone and thighbones.

However, it can tear if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight.

knee pain 3Knee Bursitis: In some cases, knee injury causes inflammation in the bursae that is a small sac of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint.

It helps the tendons and ligaments to glide smoothly over the joint.

Patellar Tendinitis: It can cause irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons.

Tendons are thick, fibrous tissues that attach the muscles to your bones.

This inflammation can occur when there is an injury to the patellar tendon that runs from your knee cap to the shinbone and allows you to kick, run, and jump.

Moreover, if you are a runner, skier, cyclist, or someone who is involved in jumping sports, you may develop this condition.

Mechanical Problems causing Knee Pain

Certain factors that can cause mechanical problems to your knee pain are;

Loose Body: In some cases, injury or degeneration of the bone or cartilage can cause a piece of your bone or cartilage to break off and float in the joint space.

This may not create any issues unless your loose body interferes with the knee movements.

In such a case, the effect is something like a pencil caught in a door hinge.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome: This condition affects that tough band of tissue that extends from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee.

It can become tight that it tends to rub against the outer portion of your thighbone.

Distance runners and cyclists are more prone to this condition.

knee pain 2Hip or Foot Pain: In case you suffer from hip or foot pain, it can cause you to change the way you walk to spare yourself from the painful joint.

However, this alteration can cause more stress on your knee joint and cause knee pain.

Dislocated Kneecap: A dislocated knee cap happens when the triangular bone that covers the front of your knee or patella slips out of place.

It often slips to the outside of your new and sometimes the knee cap can also displace, thus, you will see the dislocation as a result.

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Types of Arthritis

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, however, the most common ones that affect the knees are:

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis is one of the most common types.

It is a wear and tear condition that occurs when the cartilage in the knee deteriorates with repeated use and age.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: One of the most debilitating types of arthritis is Rheumatoid Arthritis and is an autoimmune disease.

It can affect any joint in your body including your knees, and although it is a chronic disease, it tends to vary in severity and can also come and go.

Gout: Gout is a type of arthritis and occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joint.

While gout typically affects the big toe, it can also affect your knee.

Pseudogout: You mistake itas gout, however, pseudogout is due to calcium-containing crystals that develop in the joint fluid.

Knees are mostly affected by this condition.

knee pain 4Septic Arthritis: In some cases, your knee joint can become infected, thus leading to swelling, pain, and redness.

Septic arthritis often happens with a fever, and there is often no trauma before the onset of pain.

Moreover, it can cause extensive pain to the knee cartilage and if you have knee pain with any other symptoms of this type, visit your doctor immediately.

Other Conditions: Certain conditions like Patellofemoral pain syndrome can cause pain to rise between the kneecap and the underlying thighbone.

It is common among athletes, in young adults, especially the ones whose kneecap does not track properly in its groves.

However, it can also affect older adults as a result of arthritis of the kneecap.

Diagnosis of Knee Pain

For the diagnosis of knee pain your doctor will conduct a physical examination and is likely to:

Inspect your knee for swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth, and visible bruising, check to see how far you can move your leg in varying directions.

Moreover, there will push on or pull the joint to evaluate the integrity of the structure of the knee.

Additionally, they will also order image tests to help diagnose the cause of your knee pain.

diagnosisThese are:

  • X-ray: It helps to detect bone fractures and degenerative joint
  • CT Scan: With the help of different angles to create cross-sectional images of your body, a CT Scan can help diagnose bone issues and subtle fractures. Moreover, it can help to identify gout accurately even when there is no inflammation.
  • Ultrasound: With the help of sound waves to create a real-time image of the soft tissue structures within and around your knee your doctor can check for specific conditions.
  • MRI: It helps to create 3D images of the knee, that are especially useful to reveal injuries to the soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles.

However, if your doctor suspects infection or inflammation, they will likely order blood tests and sometimes a specific procedure: Arthrocentesis.

In this procedure, your doctor will take a small amount of fluid from within your knee joint with the help of a needle and send it to the lab for analysis.

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Treatment Options

The treatment for knee pain varies and depends on the underlying cause of it.

Let’s discuss it as follows:

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help relieve pain and to treat the underlying medical condition causing the pain like medications for rheumatoid arthritis, RA, or gout.

Therapy

Muscle-strengthening around the keep can help to make them more stable.

Moreover, with the help of physical therapy, or different types of strengthening exercises, it can help relieve the pain based on the specific condition.

Thus, if you are physically active or practice sports, you may need exercises to correct the movements patterns that might be affecting your knees.

Thus, establishing a good technique is important to improve your flexibility and balance.

Injections for Knee Pain

In some cases, your doctor can suggest the use of injection medications or other substances into your joint.

These examples are:

Corticosteroids

The injections of corticosteroids into the knee joint can help reduce the symptom of an arthritis flare-up and provide pain relief.

The effects of these injections last for a few months, however, these are not effective in all cases.

prevention 1Hyaluronic Acid

A thick fluid that naturally lubricates your joint is hyaluronic acid.

Your doctor can choose to inject this acid into your joint to improve mobility and ease the pain.

Although the effects of this study need to be more scientifically proven, many doctors suggest that the effects can last longer than 6 months.

PRP, Platelet-Rich Plasma

PRP contains different concentrations of different growth factors that help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Moreover, it can effectively help to relieve pain if you have arthritis.

Surgical Options

In case of an injury, you will need surgery, however, it is usually not necessary to have it immediately.

Before making this discussion, it is important to discuss the pros and cons of both nonsurgical rehabilitation and surgical reconstruction

Discuss what suits you the most. The surgical options are as follows:

Arthroscopic Surgery: Depending on the injury, your doctor may be able to examine and repair the damage to the knee joint

They will perform this procedure using a fiber-optic camera and a long narrow tool and insert this into the knee with the help of small incisions.

surgeryArthroscopy can also help to remove loose bodies from the knee joint remove

Or even repair the damaged cartilage and reconstruct torn ligaments.

Partial Knee Replacement Surgery: Your knee surgeon will replace the damaged portion of the knee parts with the ones made of metal and plastic.

Your doctor or surgeon will perform the procedure through small incisions, therefore, you are likely to heal more quickly.

Total Knee Replacement: In this procedure, your surgeon will cut away the damaged bone and cartilage from the thighbones, shin bones, and kneecap.

They will then replace it with an artificial joint made of alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers.

Osteotomy: This procedure involves removing the bone from the thighbone or shinbone to align the knee.

Moreover, it helps to relieve arthritis pain and can also help delay or avoid total knee replacement surgery.

Prevention Tips

You can prevent certain causes of knee pain. However, in the case of chronic knee pain, the pain can get worse after physical activity.

Therefore, making certain lifestyle changes can help treat and relieve the pain.

The tips are:

Make sure to stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings before and after exercises.

Try low-impact exercise. Instead of tennis or running, try swimming or bicycling.

exercisesOr you can mix high-intensity exercises with low-intensity exercises to give your knees a break.

Walk down the hills, running puts extra force on your knees, thus, try running down an incline or walk.

Rough roads or pocked walkways can be dangerous for the health of your knees.

Try to walk on smooth, paved surfaces like a track to avoid stressing your knees.

Shoe inserts can help treat foot or gait problems that may be contributing to knee pain.

Moreover, replacing your running shoes can help to provide proper support and cushioning.

Final Thoughts

Some of the causes of knee pain can be relieved with the help of medications and injections, however, for chronic knee pain, you will need to discuss your options with the doctor.

In such a case, you will need to have reconstruction surgery or have to visit a rehabilitation center to avoid and relieve knee pain.

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