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Knee Pain & Injuries: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Knee Pain & Injuries: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Knee Pain & Injuries: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Knee pain is an ordinary thing at any age. Even children can experience pain in the knee joint after falling down or running all day. There is nothing weird. However, frequent pain in the knees may be a signal of various knee problems and diseases, infections, and internal inflammations.

In this article, we will take a look at the nature of knee pain: symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention! Keep on reading…

Symptoms of Knee Pain

Symptoms of Knee Pain

The damage of the knee joint will always be accompanied by pain. However, depending on the cause of the pain in the joint, there may appear different other symptoms like:

  • Swelling and stiffness.
  • Redness of the joint and an increase in the temperature of the skin above it.
  • Weakness or instability of the joint, weakening of the muscles surrounding the joint.
  • Crackling when moving.
  • Failure to fully extend the knee.

When Do You Need a Consultation of a Rheumatologist?

Pain in the knee joint, especially if there was any kind of knee injury, is a reason to see a doctor. However, if, except for the pain, there is swelling, visible limb deformity, fever, and/or you are unable to move and bend your knee, you should see a rheumatologist immediately.

Causes of Knee Pain

These are some of the most common and widespread causes of problems with the joints of the knees:

Traumas. Sport or domestic injuries may lead to the damage of bones, cartilages, cruciate ligaments, and of course, severe pain.

Knee bursitis. This medical condition is caused by the inflammation processes of the burs.

Tendinitis is an inflammation of one or more tendons in the joint. Runners, skiers, cyclists, and other athletes are the most endangered group of people suffering from tendinitis.

Iliotibial syndrome occurs when the fascia lata of the thigh, which extends along the outside of the lower limb from the upper thigh to the knee becomes so tight that it begins to rub against the outer thigh and causes pain.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a common cause of knee pain the sportsmen and elderly people. It is characterized by the pain that occurs between the kneecap and the underlying femur.

Pain in the hip or foot.

Different types of arthritis. Modern medicine enlists around 100 types of this disease that may provoke knee pain.

The types of arthritis most commonly affecting the knee are:

  • Knee osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Gout.
  • Pseudogout.
  • Septic arthritis.

Risk Factors of Knee Injuries and Pain

There are certain activities and lifestyles that increase the risk of a knee injury, trauma, and pain in the joints. Here are a few of them:

  • Excess weight. Obesity and overweight become a danger to many organs and systems, including the musculoskeletal system and especially the knees, which carry the weight of the whole body while walking, jogging, jumping, and doing other activities.
  • Decreased strength in the thigh muscles. Strong muscles of the lag provide the knee joints with additional support when moving. With weak muscles, there is the instability of the joint.
  • Some kinds of sport. Activities and sports are extremely useful for the general health and mobility of our joints. However, there are certain sports that endanger the condition of the knee joint more than others, for example, Alpine skiing with hard ski boots, basketball jumping, and running.
  • Previous injuries. If your knee has been injured once, the risks, it will be injured again greatly increase.

Complications

Many but not all of the above-mentioned conditions can lead to complications with knee joint pain. Among them are some kinds of traumas and injuries, as well as chronic joint diseases (such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis).

Diagnostics

There are 3 basic methods of diagnostics: physical examination, instrumental examination, and laboratory examination.

During the physical examination, the rheumatologist will check the knee joint for any knee swelling and pain, sensitivity, local fever, change of the skin tissues color, and check the level of joint mobility.

When physical examination does not provide all the needed information to understand the nature and cause of the knee pain, the doctor may use one of the instrumental examination methods: X-ray, CT scan, Ultrasound, and Magnetic resonance imaging.

The X-ray will help to determine any change of bone configuration in the knee joint provoked by degenerative or inflammatory processes.

CT scan is a more precise method to see and check up the bones and soft tissues that surround the joint on various cuts and diagnose any issues with the bones, knee cartilage, or other tissues in the joint.

Ultrasound helps to diagnose the following issues:

  • excess fluid in the joint cavity,
  • inflammation of the tendons (tendovaginitis), burs (bursitis),
  • inflammation in the area where tendons attach to the bones (enthesitis),
  • changes in the configuration of the bones that make up the joint,
  • changes in cartilage thickness.

Magnetic resonance imaging helps to recreate a 3-dimensional picture of the joint, which is extremely useful when checking up for any damages of soft tissues, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles.

To determine the nature and cause of knee pain, the rheumatologist may also assign certain laboratory analyses like blood and urine tests, if needed, analysis of synovial fluid removed from the knee joint.

Knee Pain Treatment

Of course, there is no one universal treatment method for knee pain, and everything will depend on the diagnosis.

Physical therapy 

This treatment method is quite widespread and effective for the rehabilitation of the injured joint and returning its mobility. The physical therapist will choose a set of safe exercises for every patient individually, depending on his/her age, medical condition, previous level of physical training, and the setup goal. It also helps to strengthen the muscles of the front of the thigh. The exercises may include using various training apparatus, swimming, hand massage, and electrical muscle stimulation.

Local therapy

In separate cases, to relieve pain in the knee joints and suspend further damage of the joint, the rheumatologist may assign treatment with injectables for the joints:

  • Glucocorticoids. Injections with glucocorticoids are indicated for the patients with inflammation processes in the knees to cure knee pain and swelling.
  • Hyaluronic acid. This substance is very close to the synovial liquid naturally present in the joint. Due to various medical conditions, the amount of hyaluronic acid may decrease, causing the friction of 2 bones and severe pain. The administration of injectables with hyaluronic acid temporarily ceases the pain for the next 6-9 months.
  • Plasma. The injections of plasma into the knee are most frequently prescribed to young people whose joints have been injured with sports traumas. They help to decrease inflammation and promote faster healing.

Knee joint surgery

Surgery is the last choice to treat knee pain, but sometimes the doctor may not have another choice except for partial and full joint replacement to return the patient knee movement and get rid of the pain.

  • Arthroscopic surgery. This kind of surgery aims at partial restoration of the damaged joint, correction of damaged cartilage, and reconstruction of torn ligaments or torn meniscus with the help of an optical camera and special instruments inserted through several small incisions around the knee.
  • Partial knee replacement. This surgery supposes the replacement of the most damaged parts of the joints of the knee with metal or plastic elements. As the replacement is performed via small side cuts, the recovery period is relatively short.
  • Total knee replacement. With this procedure, the doctor fully deletes the damaged bone and cartilage, shin bones, and patella replacing them with artificial parts produced from high-quality biocompatible metal alloys, plastics, and polymers.

Home Treatment

You will be able to control and minimize acute or chronic knee pain only when combining therapy treatment with home treatment and strictly following the recommendations of the doctor. So, what can you do at home to minimize the load on the infected knee joint and decrease the pain?

Rest. With common knee injuries, knee ligament injuries, knee arthritis, and other conditions, you will have to make sure you do not overload the injured knee and get enough rest.

Ice. Cold has a positive impact both on the pain and swelling. You can use a bag of ice, frozen vegetables, and anything else you can find in the freezer. This is a simple and effective therapy but do not use the ice packs longer than 20 minutes to do not freeze the skin over the knee.

Fixation. If you fix the knee with the help of a light but dense compression bandage that will support the knee without preventing or interrupting blood circulation.

Elevated position. When lifting your leg up, you can decrease the swelling. For this purpose, you can use such a trick as, for example, putting a pillow under the leg when you sleep.

Knee Pain Prevention

Unfortunately, there is a wide range of cases when it is almost impossible to foresee and prevent knee pain. However, by following these simple recommendations, you will be able to avoid many traumas and prevent worsening of the knee condition:

  • Keep your weight within normal limits. A healthy weight will reduce the strain on your knees and relieve pain. Each additional pound puts additional stress on joints, increasing the risk of injury and osteoarthritis.
  • Go for sports. It takes time to prepare your muscles for the demands of a particular sport. Work with a coach to keep technique and movement correct.
  • Practice. Make sure the technique and movement patterns you use in your sport or activity are the best for you. Professional lessons can be very helpful.
  • Be careful while exercising. If you have osteoarthritis, chronic knee pain, or recurring injuries, you may need to change the way you exercise. Consider switching to swimming, water aerobics, or other sports that have low pressure on your knees. Sometimes a simple limitation of physical activity can help improve the situation.

To Sum Up

Knee pain is a common thing. Minor injuries, overweight, improper sports, lack of activity, inflammation, and disease may cause pain in the joint and discomfort while moving. That is why it is important to take care of your lifestyle and do everything possible to prevent knee injuries, and of course, once noticed any suspicious pain in the joints, directly apply to the doctor.

Hope, this article was interesting and useful and provided you with some insight on knee pain treatment and prevention. Stay healthy and see you in the next posts!

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