Knee pain sounds normal to me as my grandmother and her peer groups often complain about knee pain and inflammations. More than a quarter of the American population suffer from knee problems after they pass the age of 45. Your knee is a vulnerable joint which can get hurt easily. It is so due to its structure, location and use. The common problems which affect knee are Sprained knee ligaments, Jumper’s knee and Kneecap pain. But did you know that your knee pain can be due to various factors? It can be the result of an injury like Bursitis, Tendinitis or ligament injuries, medical conditions like Gout, Arthritis or infections or even due to the dislocation of kneecap.
- Ligament Injuries– If you happened to twist or bend you knee too far in a wrong direction you may get a sprain. The ligament may also tear as a result of this. A tear in one of the four ligaments of the knee can cause immediate pain as you walk or try to bend your knee. You may also feel your knee to be weak and hear it make a popping sound.
- Dislocated Kneecap, Patella Injuries or Kneecap Pain— The bone (patella) that covers the front of the knee may slip out of place causing severe pain and swelling. You may be able to see the dislocation of the bone. Knee pain after prolonged sitting or descending stairs relates to patella injuries.
- Bursitis and Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee)– The bursa or the small sac of fluid that cushions the knee joint may get torn due to injuries as in sports or other activities of the like. It may cause red, inflamed and painful knees. You will have pain while climbing up and down the stairs and while kneeling down. Athletes or runners may injure their tendons of the knees leading to inflammation and pain. They cannot run, jump or straighten their knees without causing further pain. Jumper’s knee causes pain right below your knees and is seen mostly in basketball and volleyball players.
- Meniscus Injuries– The injury or tear in the cartilage (meniscus) can cause a lot of pain. The two menisci located in the inside and the outside of the knee distributes the body weight across the knee joint. The injury to the menisci can be due to old age or physical exertion. It results in agony, limited joint movement and tenderness.
- Septic Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis– Septic Arthritis is mostly a bacterial (or fungal) infection in the knee that results in pain, swelling and at times fever. It may lead to many complications including death. People with infected blood, a traumatic injury or a joint replacement surgery are under the risk of getting infections in the knee. Rheumatoid arthritis may not have symptoms in the beginning as it is an autoimmune disease. It causes chronic inflammation of the joints with pain, stiffness and redness. Osteoarthritis is degenerative and is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage. It may occur as you age or may be secondary to some medical condition like obesity or a surgery.
You can take care of your knee pain at home by taking some additional care. You will require a surgery only in a very advanced stage. What matters here is protection and adequate rest.
Protect you knees. A compression wrap may work for most of the minor injuries.Take a break from any activity that may cause pain or soreness to the knee. Use padding to protect any possible repetitive injuries. Rest your joints to avoid straining the areas. It will give the injured area enough time to heal. After giving rest, start by gentle exercises and stretching. When resting, place a small pillow under your knee to prop up. Elevate your knee above the level of your heart to reduce swelling. You can do this as you ice the area or when you sit or lie down. Compression (wrap or brace) will help to reduce swelling and to keep the patella in tact. You can get an elastic or neoprene sleeve with a hole to hold your kneecap in place. Icing is another way to reduce inflammation for both acute and chronic injuries. It can be done for 10-15 minutes at a time. Take an OTC pill (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)to relieve the pain.
We all know that prevention is easier and cheaper. In order to prevent knee problems stretch your muscles in the front and back of your thighs well. You can also try Hamstring stretch and Knee-to-chest stretch. Forget high-heels. Use proper footwear for running (shoes with arch support) or related activities. Reduce weight if it adds stress to your knees. Quit smoking as smoking interferes with tissue repair.
Always get the help of your doctor at the right time!
–Aparna K V