The Causes Behind Knee Pain
Symptoms and diagnosis for Knee Pain
By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic
The knee is the joint between the bones of the upper and lower leg. Therefore it allows the leg to bend and provides stability to support the weight of the body. The knee supports motions such as walking, running, crouching, jumping, and turning.
Several parts help the knee to do its job, including:
Any of these parts are susceptible to disease and injury, which can lead to severe knee pain.
What are some symptoms of a Knee Pain?
Knee pain can be caused by injuries, mechanical problems, types of arthritis and other problems.
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:
- 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. This injury is particularly common in people who play basketball, soccer or other sports that require sudden changes in direction.
- Fractures. The bones of the knee, including the kneecap (patella), can be broken during motor vehicle collisions or falls. People whose bones have been weakened by osteoporosis can sometimes sustain a knee fracture simply by stepping wrong.
- Torn meniscus. The meniscus is formed of tough, rubbery cartilage and acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. It can also be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it.
- 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.
- Patellar tendinitis. Tendinitis is irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons — the thick, fibrous tissues that attach muscles to bones. Runners, skiers, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities may develop inflammation in the patellar tendon, which connects the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh to the shinbone.
“The main risk factor for knee pain is age; over time, wear and tear can cause pain, stiffness ad inflammation of the knee. However, people who are overweight are at increased risk, as are athletes and people whose work requires heavy lifting, kneeling or standing for long periods of time.”
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What types of diagnosis?
Our doctor may ask and conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have knee pain:
- History of symptoms. To diagnose knee pain, our doctor will first want to get your full medical history. This includes whether you have had any recent injuries, where you feel the pain, and how the pain feels.
- Physical examination. Our doctor will include testing your muscle strength and reflexes. He might also ask you to do some stretching and moving exercises to determine which activities cause more pain.
- X-rays. This is required to make certain there are no broken bones, but often with stress or overuse injuries where no direct blow has occurred. Standing X-rays of the knees are used to assess the joint space and compare the injured knee to the uninjured one.
- MRI, CT scan. This scan can provide more-detailed views of the bones in your knee and may spot fractures that don’t show up on X-rays.
Possible treatment methods?
Strengthening the muscles around your knee will make it more stable. Our doctor may recommend physical therapy or different types of strengthening exercises based on the specific condition that is causing your pain.
If you are physically active or practice a sport, you may need exercises to correct movement patterns that may be affecting your knees and to establish good technique during your sport or activity. Hence exercises to improve your flexibility and balance are important.
Arch supports, sometimes with wedges on one side of the heel, can help to shift pressure away from the side of the knee most affected by knee osteoarthritis. In certain conditions, different types of braces may be used to help protect and support the knee joint.
Medication for Knee Pain
Our doctor may prescribe medications to help relieve pain and to treat underlying conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
In some cases, our doctor may suggest injecting medications or other substances directly into your joint.
If you have an injury that may require surgery, it’s usually not necessary to have the operation immediately. Should you choose to have surgery, your options may include:
- Arthroscopic surgery. Depending on your injury, our doctor may be able to examine and repair your joint damage using a fiber-optic camera and long, narrow tools inserted through just a few small incisions around your knee. Arthroscopy may be used to remove loose bodies from your knee joint, remove or repair damaged cartilage (especially if it is causing your knee to lock), and reconstruct torn ligaments.
- Partial knee replacement surgery. In this procedure, our surgeon replaces only the most damaged portion of your knee with parts made of metal and plastic. This surgery can usually be performed through small incisions, so you’re likely to heal more quickly than you are with surgery to replace your entire knee.
- Total knee replacement. In this procedure, our surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap, and replaces it with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers.