Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of different ages. It could result from various causes like: knee injuries or various medical conditions.
What causes Knee Pain?
As mentioned, knee pain results from various causes like:
- Injuries – depending from their severity can affect the ligaments, tendons, knee bursae, cartilages and bones of the knee joint. The most common knee injuries are: torn meniscus, knee bursitis, patellar tendinitis, injuries of the anterior cruciate ligament and fractures.
- Arthritis – different types of arthritis affect the knee joint as well as any other joint in the body. Some of the arthritis types that affect the knee and cause pain include: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, gout, pseudo – gout, etc.
- Mechanical problems – like dislocated knee cap, iliotibial band syndrome or even hip pain or foot pain can also cause knee pain.
Many factors can increase the risk of having knee problems like:
- Certain sports – like football, tennis, basketball, skiing,
- Excess weight – obesity and the extra pounds increase the stress on the knee joints, making them more vulnerable and prompt to various medical conditions.
- Previous injuries – repeated trauma of the knees makes it more likely to get injured again and produce knee pain
- Weak muscles – offer less support for the knees, making them more vulnerable and more likely to get easily injured.
Signs and Symptoms of Knee Pain
The severity and location of the knee pain usually varies from its cause. Other signs and symptoms that usually accompany knee pain include: weakness and knee instability, stiffness of the knee, swelling of the knee, crunching noises, popping noises, inability to fully straighten the knee, problems with walking, etc.
How is Knee Pain diagnosed?
Diagnosing the underlying condition of the knee pain requires the following exams and diagnostic tests:
- Physical examination of the affected knee – will help your doctor determine any swelling, tenderness, bruising, warmth or pain. He/she will also check the motion range of the knee joint.
- Lab tests – are necessary in cases when the cause of knee pain is an infection or gout
- X-ray – helps your doctor detect any bone fractures or even degenerative diseases of the knee joint that could cause knee pain
- Ultrasound – produces real time images of the soft tissue structures that surround the knee, which help your doctor better visualize the knee structures and diagnose the underlying condition of knee pain
- CT – scan – helps your doctor diagnose any problems and changes of the bone structures of the knee as well as detecting the loose bodies in the knee joint
- MRI – is usually recommended in cases when the cause of the knee pain are injuries and damages of the soft tissue like tendons, ligaments, muscles and cartilages, which are better visualized with this diagnostic procedure
Knee Pain Treatment
Treatment of knee pain always depends from its cause. Pain killers are often prescribed in order to control and relieve the pain, regardless of its cause.
Physical therapy is often necessary in order to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint.
Corticosteroid injections into the knee help reduce the signs and symptoms of the underlying condition due to the reduction of the knee inflammation and swelling.
Platelet – rich plasma injections tend to promote healing by reducing the inflammation of the affected knee.
If conservative method treatment does not work, surgery is recommended. Non-surgical treatment usually includes one of the following options:
- Arthroscopic surgery
- Partial knee replacement
- Total knee replacement.