Knee pain is a common issue that affects people of all ages. It can occur from an immediate injury, overuse, or a medical condition. Most types of knee pain are minor but in severe cases it can be extremely painful and require surgery. The most common signs and symptoms include: swelling, stiffness, redness, warmth, weakness, popping or crunching noises, and the inability to fully extend the knee.
Common Causes & Conditions
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. With over 100 different types, it affects more than 3 million people each year. Arthritis worsens over time, damages the joints, and causes the affected joints to be painful and stiff. Learn more about arthritis pain by reading our article here. The most common types of arthritis that affect the knees are:
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage that provides cushioning between the bones begins to wear away. Without the soft cushioning of the cartilage, the bones rub against each other causing the affected areas to become stiff and painful. There are a variety of causes of osteoarthritis including injury, obesity, and family history of the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body begins to attack itself. The disorder causes the immune system to damage it’s own tissues. It affects the joints but can also damage a wide variety of you body’s systems.
Gout is a sudden and severe attack of pain in the joints. The attack usually occurs in the big toe but can also occur in the elbow, knees, wrists, or ankles. The symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness.
Pseudogout is the sudden, painful swelling of the joints. It affects the joints in the knees more than any other areas. Symptoms include swelling, warmth, pain, and tenderness in the affected area.
Septic arthritis is a painful infection of the joints. The infection affects the knee joints more than any other areas. It can quickly and severely damage the cartilage and bone within the joint. The symptoms include extreme discomfort, unable to use the affected joint, swollen, redness, warmth, and fever.
A knee injury can affect the bones of the knee as well as the surrounding tissues. A few of the most common knee injuries include:
An ACL injury affects more than 200,000 people each year. When this injury occurs, it is the tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament, which is a major ligament in the knee. The injury happens when a sudden movement causes the ligament to tear or sprain. Athletes have a higher risk of tearing their ACL because of the hard physical labor they put on their bodies. The symptoms include swelling, instability, and pain from the damaged knee.
A fracture is a break or crack in the bones. When a knee fracture occurs it can be painful and requires a doctor’s examination. The doctor will most likely put the fractured area in a splint or cast to help protect and heal the area.
One of the most common knee injuries is a torn meniscus. This happens when the knee is forcibly twisted and is common among athletes. The symptoms include popping, swelling, stiffness, intense pain, and the inability to straighten the knee.
The small cushions that help the bones, tendons, and muscles around the joints are called bursae. When the bursae become inflamed, the painful condition bursitis sets in. Bursitis affects the joints in the body that are used more frequently in a repetitive motion.
Patellar tendinitis is an injury or inflammation of the tissue that connects the knee cap to the shin bone. The injury commonly occurs in athletes and is treated by strengthening the muscle around the knee.
When Should I See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor as soon as possible if any of these symptoms or signs occur:
- Signs of infection
- Unable to put weight on the knee
- Can’t fully extend or flex the knee
- Increases pain
- Knee “gives out” or feels unstable
The risk of suffering from knee pain increases along with age. As you age your body is not as strong as it once was. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop a condition or have an injury occur that causes knee pain.
Being overweight causes extra stress on your knees. Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the chances of added pressure and stress affecting your knees.
Certain diseases, like arthritis, can cause various symptoms including knee pain. While diseases can’t necessarily be prevented, it’s important to know how you can manage any pain they might cause.
An injury to the knees can be extremely damaging and painful. It can prevent movement and if not treated properly can even cause more damage to the area surrounding the injury.
Keeping your body in good shape can help prevent future injury and knee pain. The muscles around your knee help to keep it in place and when these weaken the likelihood of having an injury increases.
For mild knee pain there are at home treatment options that usually help. Those include over the counter pain relievers, knee braces, and rest. More serious knee pain may require physical therapy, prescribed medications, injections, and even surgery.
How Alabama Pain Physicians Can Help
At Alabama Pain Physicians, our goal is to better the quality of life of our patients. We take your pain seriously and strive to establish an accurate diagnosis along with a treatment plan to ultimately minimize your pain. To determine the exact cause of you pain, our physicians will perform a physical exam and use your complete medical history to help find the best treatment options suited for you. In addition to the physical exam and history, you may also need imaging studies and tests to help the physician determine the cause of you pain. Contact Alabama Pain Physicians today and let us help get you on the right track to managing your pain.