Knee Pain – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Aug 28, 2019

Our knee joints are a combination of the thigh bone (femur), the knee cap (patella) and shin bone (tibia). These three bones are joined together by quadriceps muscles and ligaments. The knee joint is also surrounded by fluid-filled compartments known as bursae which help with lubrication. An injury to any of these knee joint components can cause knee pain. Globally, knee pain is a very common condition and the incidence increases as the individual ages. The condition is also prevalent because of the increase in lifespan and obesity statistics over the last few decades. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 60 million US adults are diagnosed with joint pains annually.

Popular Causes of Knee Pains:   

Knee pains can occur due to a number of reasons. Factors, both age-related and medical issues can cause knees to hurt. Knee pains can also arise due to lifestyle factors like over-exercising, stress, etc.

Following are some of the common causes which induce pain in our knees,

  • Injury - Following injuries can lead to knee pains if they are ignored or not cured properly.
    • Torn cartilage
    • Meniscus tears
    • Tendinitis
    • Ruptured ligament.
    • Runner’s knee
  • Medical Conditions - Certain ailments which affect our bones and cause inflammation can lead to knee-related pains.
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Gout
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Septic arthritis or an infected knee
  • Mechanical Problems - Mechanical pains are linked to the movement or the mechanics of the spine.
    • Iliotibial band syndrome
    • Dislocated Kneecap
    • Loose body
    • Hip or foot pain

Your chances of developing knee pains are likely to increase if you are overweight or have weak leg muscles. Stress caused by playing certain sports like tennis, basketball or skiing can also make you more likely to develop knee related injuries. Some knee pains can also arise as a result of hip problems and this can become difficult to diagnose.

Common symptoms of knee pains include redness around the knee, swelling, stiffness, crunching noises, weakness, unable to straighten the knee. Light and minor knee pains can be cured by resting the limb. However, if the pain increases or continues, it is important to visit a doctor before deciding on the course of treatment. X-ray, blood tests and, removal and study of the joint fluid can help determine the exact medical condition.

Popular Therapies and Modes of Treatments

Knee pains can be minor or extremely excruciating. If you are suffering from knee pain, it is important to avoid putting any kind of weight on it. Using an ice pack can also provide some comfort. It is essential to consult a doctor before embarking on any form of treatment. Following are some of the often prescribed modes of treatment,

  1. Medications - Medicines like painkillers or anti-inflammatory pills can be prescribed to cure the ailment. Over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol or steroid-free anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen may also help reduce the pain.
  2. Surgery - Surgeries can include Total Knee Replacement, Partial Knee Replacement or Arthroscopic surgery.
    1. Total Knee Replacement - the damaged bone and cartilage are removed from the knee joint area (thigh bone, kneecap and shin bone), and replaced with an artificial joint  (Joint Pain Treatment) made from metal alloys, polymers, and high-grade plastics.
    2. Partial Knee Replacement - In this procedure, only the most damaged portion of the knee is replaced with metal or plastic parts. Since the surgery is usually performed via small incisions, the individual is likely to heal faster.
    3. Arthroscopic Surgery - Arthroscopy can be used to remove loose bodies from the affected knee joint. It can also be used to repair or remove damaged cartilage which is causing the knee to lock and reconstruct any torn ligaments.
  3. Knee Braces - A knee brace can help relieve pain by taking the pressure off the affected part of the knee joint. It can also help you stand and provide you with the required support to perform various daily activities.
  4. Physical Therapy - A Physical Therapy treatment can be initiated after an assessment of the entire lower extremity, i.e., from the hip to the foot. Before initiating the treatment, the therapist will gather information regarding the history of your medical condition, factors which may aggravate or help relieve you from pain. Light exercises like, quad sets, straight leg raises, short arc quads, balance exercises, etc. can be prescribed to lower the pain.
  5. Yoga Poses for Knee pain  - Yoga therapy is more preventive than curative. Yoga poses like Virabhadrasana, Trikonasana, Dandasana, etc. can help strengthen the inner quad muscles, thereby, reducing the chances of knee pains.

How to Avoid Knee Pains

  1. Weight control is one of the vital factors which can contribute to overall healthy joints. It is important to maintain your weight as a sudden surge can lead to added pressure on the joints causing aches and pains.
  2. Do warm-up stretches before any exercise. Stretch your thigh muscles to decrease the stress on your tendons.  
  3. A sudden increase in the intensity of your activity can cause undue pressure on your joints.
  4. Avoid lifting too much weight at once as it can cause injury or stress the knee joints.
  5. Wear the right size of shoes. Comfortable shoes can help take the pressure off your knee joints and improve leg alignment and balance.
  6. Improving your posture can also result in healthier knees. A slouching posture is more likely to lead to knee pains.
  7. Avoid consuming too much sugar as processed sugars can release cytokines which act as inflammatory agents in our bodies. This includes sugars which may be added to soda, sweet tea, flavored coffees, and certain juice drinks.
  8. Fatty foods like, pizza and red meat can cause inflammation in the fat tissues as they are rich in saturated fats leading to and prolonged consumption can lead to unnecessary weight gain.

Avoid any form of activity or exercise which can cause a strain to your joints leading to knee pains.

Normally, knee pains can disappear with little or no treatments. Depending on the cause of the ache, it can give rise to a more serious injury or can cause complications leading to painful movements and difficulty in walking.

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