Knee pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint faced by people of all ages. It can be due to injury (torn cartilage or ruptured ligament) or an underlying condition. It can be due to underlying conditions such as arthritis, gout. Some knee infections can also cause knee pain. Knee pain can originate in any of the bony structures including the knee joint (femur, tibia, and fibula), the kneecap (patella), or the ligaments and cartilages of the knee. Obesity and lack of muscle strength and flexibility can lead to knee pain.
The symptoms of knee pain include:
There are different knee pain causes such as injuries, mechanical problems, different types of arthritis and other problems. Over usage of the knee joint triggers the knee pain. Knee injuries affect ligaments, tendons, bursae, bones, cartilage, and ligaments. Different types of knee injuries that trigger the knee pain include:
Ligament Injury: The tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is called an ACL injury. ACL is one of the four ligaments that connect the shinbone to the thighbone. It can occur when a sudden change in knee direction takes place.
Fractures: The fracture of bones of the knee can lead to knee pain. Knee fractures can be due to accidents or simply by stepping wrong.
Knee Bursitis: Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae leading to knee pain.
Patellar Tendinitis: It is irritation and inflammation of one or more patellar tendons in the knee causing knee pain.
Meniscus Injury: Meniscus is a tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between shinbone and thighbone. The tearing of meniscus causes knee pain. It can be torn suddenly when the knee twists while bearing weight on it.
Some mechanical problems such as loose body, iliotibial band syndrome, hip or foot pain, and dislocation knee pain can lead to knee pain. Different types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudogout, and septic arthritis can cause severe knee pain. Patellofemoral pain syndrome also leads to knee pain.
The knee pain diagnosis primarily involves a physical examination of the knee. During the physical exam, the doctor inspects the knee for swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth and visible bruising. The range of motion of knee is checked by moving the leg in different directions. The doctor also evaluates the integrity of the knee by pushing on or pulling the knee joint. Some imaging tests that are used for diagnosis of knee pain are:
X-ray: An X-ray of the bones is suggested to detect knee bone fractures and degenerative joint diseases which are leading to knee pain.
CT scan: Cross-sectional images of the whole body are taken by X-rays. It helps to diagnose bone problems and detect loose bodies.
Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves are used to produce images of soft tissue structures within and around the knee. These images help in detecting damages and underlying conditions.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): High-frequency radio waves along with a powerful magnet are used to create three-dimensional images of the inside of the knee. These images reveal injuries of the soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles.
Arthrocentesis is the process of removal of fluid present in between the joints. The fluid is evaluated in the laboratory for the presence of infections and to identify the underlying conditions such as gout or different types of arthritis.
The treatment for knee pain depends on the cause of pain. If the knee pain is due to underlying conditions, the treatment will be based to cure the condition. The treatment options for knee pain include:
Physical Therapy: It is suggested to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Exercises will be suggested to improve the balance and reduce the pain. Proper exercises and movements help in relieving pressure and stress from the knees.
Injections: Knee pain can be reduced by injecting some medications such as corticosteroids into the knee joint directly. It helps in relieving the pain and other symptoms of knee pain. In some cases, hyaluronic acid (acts as lubricating fluid) is injected into the joints directly. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is also injected to reduce inflammation and promote healing. It is useful in mild arthritis.
Surgery: Surgery may be suggested sometimes if an injury in the knee responsible for the pain. Some of the surgeries include:
Arthroscopic surgery: It is used to remove loose bodies from the knee joint, remove or repair damaged cartilage, and reconstruct torn ligaments which inturn manages the knee joint pain. It is performed by using a fiber-optic camera and long, narrow tool. It is inserted by making small incisions around the knee.
Partial Knee Replacement Surgery: In this procedure, the damaged portion of the knee is replaced with parts made of metal and plastic. It is usually performed through small incisions on the knee.
Total Knee Replacement Surgery: In this procedure, the damaged bone and cartilage from the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap are replaced with an artificial joint which is made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers.
In some cases, in patients who have knee pain due to osteoarthritis are suggested with glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to relieve the pain. Acupuncture also relieves knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
There are different knee pain causes such as injuries, mechanical problems, different types of arthritis and other problems, different types of knee injuries that trigger the knee pain include: Ligament Injury, Fractures, Knee Bursitis, Patellar Tendinitis, Meniscus Injury.
The treatment for knee pain depends on the cause of pain, the treatment options for knee pain include: Physical Therapy, Injections, Surgery, Arthroscopic surgery, Partial Knee Replacement Surgery, Total Knee Replacement Surgery