Knee pain is quite common and affects almost everybody at one point in time. It can be temporary and recovery may just take a few days. On the other hand, those suffering from chronic knee pain might find the condition quite debilitating. Knee pain is a difficult condition to deal with for many as our knees play a crucial role in mobility. Due to knee pain many movements like standing, sitting, and walking become extremely painful or impossible.
Knee pain can manifest in many ways from a continuous dull ache to sharp shooting pains aggravated by movements. In certain cases, the knee pain may seem worse in the mornings as you wake up. Apart from just pain, your knee may appear swollen, red and warm when touched. You may find it hard to put pressure on your knee as the weight-bearing capacity of your knee may be compromised.
Knee pain can occur due to injuries, diseases like arthritis, and many other reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of knee pain.
Injuries to the knees contribute to a major number of cases of knee pain. Ligaments, cartilage, tendons, the kneecap (patella), and other parts of the knee can sustain any degree of damage in an injury. Injuries can occur due to:
- Sudden impact to the knee region due to car accidents, falls or sports injuries.
- Systematic and regular corrosion of the knee joint due to day-to-day activities, bad postures, degenerative diseases, etc.
Fractures or breaking of bones are a common form of knee injury and can occur due to accidents and falls. People who suffer from conditions like osteoporosis that weakens the bones are at a higher risk of sustaining fractures than others from falls.
Tearing of the meniscus cartilage is another risk due to sudden movements of the knee.
Bursitis or inflammation of the sac of fluid in the knee is a painful condition caused by bacterial infection, repeated pressure on the knee, strenuous activity as well as complications of arthritis. Usually, the affected portion of the knee feels warm, swollen and tender and causes pain during movement. People who may not have an ergonomic work environment such as masons who have to kneel on hard surfaces for long durations of time are at a higher risk of developing bursitis of the knee joint.
Sports injuries are sustained by players during training and when playing a sport. There are majorly two very common sports injuries:
- Sportspersons who play soccer and basketball sustain ACL or anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
- Patellar tendinitis is also known as jumper’s knee and affects runners, cyclists, and skiers who put a great deal of strain on the knee regularly.
Arthritis – Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
A leading cause of knee pains, arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and swelling in the joints including knee joints. There are two major types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is more common and affects the joints in the knees, hands, hips and spine. It wears down the protective cartilage causing damage to the knee and other affected joints over time. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in the knee to become thin. This causes the surfaces of the joints to become rougher and the knee joint cannot function as smoothly as before. The knee joint starts to feel stiff and any movement becomes very painful. Women over the age of 50 are more prone to osteoarthritis and suffer from knee pain than any other group.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where healthy cells are attacked by the body’s immune system resulting in extremely painful swelling in the affected joints. Rheumatoid arthritis destroys the knee cartilage rapidly if intervention is not done. Generally, rheumatoid arthritis starts to show at a much earlier age than osteoarthritis.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome
This disease causes pain behind or around the knee cap and affects children, young adults and women more than others. People afflicted with this syndrome find it painful to climb up and down the stairs, run, cycle, squat, etc. They feel a dull pain at the front of the knee right below the knee cap. Trauma to the knee cap is one of the major reasons to develop patellofemoral pain syndrome. In some cases, patients who have undergone repair surgeries on the knee joint may develop this painful syndrome.
Knee Pain Management
Knee pain treatment may include surgery to repair the damage and ease the pain. At the same time, knee pain management becomes an essential part of the treatment for knee pain. Following a regimen can help to manage knee pain to a large extent. Here are some of the ways to manage knee pain:
Rest: Give your knee as much rest as it requires but do not be afraid to remain mobile. The idea is to keep the knee as comfortable as possible. Elevate your leg as you rest as that often helps to ease the pain.
Control your weight: Try to keep your weight under control as it will reduce the strain on your knee joint and help you to find relief from pain.
Shoes: Wear proper shoes especially when you are exercising and avoid uncomfortable footwear at all costs. Shoes that do not support your gait properly will damage your knees further.
Exercise: Do not avoid exercise as it is good for your health and knees. However, avoid exercises that put a strain on your knees like running or jumping.
Cold/Hot Pack: A hot or cold compress or using both alternately can help to alleviate the knee pain. However, be careful not to damage your skin in the process by using too hot or too cold packs. You can use heating pads, or dip your knee in hot water with healing salts at a comfortable temperature to avoid any form of skin problems.
Knee pain can be a symptom of the start of a health issue like arthritis. If the knee pain is new or an old recurring one that does not seem to go away, it is time to consult your healthcare practitioner. If it feels anything unusual, get expert medical advice at the earliest.