Common Causes of Knee Pain, Part 1
The knee is one of the largest joints in the body and knee pain is a common complaint across all age groups. It may be due to a diverse range of causes including sudden injury, overuse injury or an underlying medical condition.
The location and severity of knee pain varies depending on the root cause. The thigh bone (femur) and lower leg bones (fibula and tibia) compose the knee joint. Structures found in or around the knee joint include discs (menisci), cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Signs and symptoms that may accompany knee pain include swelling, stiffness, redness, warmth, weakness, instability, popping or crunching noises, fever and decreased range of motion (inability to fully extend or flex the knee).
What are the most common knee patients we see at IMAC? This week, we’ll cover the Top Five.
COMMON KNEE CONDITIONS
Knee osteoarthritis is a common medical condition. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the disorder affects more than 33 percent of individuals over the age of 65. It is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the deterioration of cartilage, overgrowth of bone at the margins (osteophytes) and increased bone density (subchondral sclerosis). Some common risk factors for the development of knee osteoarthritis include female sex, obesity, older age and previous knee injury.
Unfortunately, meniscus tears are quite common in the knee as well, and can be quite debilitating. The meniscus helps to stabilize the joint but also provides cushion between the bones of the knee. Common symptoms are pain, swelling, popping, locking or catching. These symptoms can all lead to loss of motion in the knee that impact your day-to-day function.
Knee sprains are injury to the ligaments that help to hold the bones of the knee together. These include the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament. Ligaments can become torn or overstretched. When this occurs, the knee becomes highly unstable impeding a person’s ability to walk, climb stairs or even get up comfortably from a chair.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is a common cause of knee pain among runners. It can also strike those engaging in activities requiring repetitive knee bending such as biking, climbing and jumping. Symptoms may include pain behind or around the kneecap (patella), pain while bending the knee, pain that worsens when walking downstairs or downhill, knee swelling or popping or grinding sensations in the knee.
Chondromalacia patella refers to the softening and breakdown of the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap or patella. It is one of the common causes of knee pain, especially in women. Chondromalacia patella is caused by misalignment, or improper tracking, of the patella as it slides over the thigh bone (femur). The most common symptom is a dull, aching pain in the front of the knee behind the kneecap, which can be exacerbated by prolonged sitting.
So how can we help? Let’s talk about possible treatments to get you back to full function.
The simplest way to look at it is this: our bodies are made up of red tissue and white tissue. Red tissue is red because of the blood supply to it or within it. Other tissues that are white, like ligaments, meniscus and joint surfaces do not have the abundant blood supply in our body like red tissue does.
Therefore, at IMAC Regeneration Centers, we use therapies such as Platelet Rich Plasma and other cellular options to inject those tissues that cannot heal correctly due to the lack of good blood supply, i.e., the white tissue. From there, we also offer rehabilitative efforts to work in partnership with the cell-based care we deliver.
Over time, when pain becomes dominant in our body, we compensate and break down in other areas that lead to weakness and loss of skill of the affected joint. IMAC’s physical therapists are trained to know how to protect the joint we are trying to heal, while providing challenge to it so it can perform again at normal levels.
We would love the opportunity to visit with you or your loved one about any physical limitations or pain, and work with you to build a treatment plan to get you back to full function, health and life.
Thanks for reading.
IMAC Vice President and Physical Therapist