Our knees receive more strain than any joint in our bodies. They are the strongest of all our joints, but they can also be injured more frequently because of their important role and constant motion. If your knee is causing you significant or chronic pain, you may be experiencing one of many injuries or conditions that could be helped by a visit to Advance Health and Wellness.
Knee pain is one of the most common complaints we see among our patients. When your ability to walk, sit down, or stand up without pain is impeded, it affects every aspect of your life. You may not want to exercise, go out with friends, walk the dog, or even get out of bed in severe cases; and you may not be able to, either. The location and function of our knees put them at high risk for injury.
The main functions of the knee joint are to bend, straighten, and hold the entire weight of the body, with a bit of help from the hip and ankle joints. The knee is also more than just a hinged joint; it rotates and twists, though to lesser degrees. Performing all of these functions and supporting the whole body at the same time, the knee must get help from many other structures including ligaments, tendons, bones, and cartilage. It only gets by with a little help from its friends.
This support system, while effective, also puts each and every piece of the puzzle at risk of injury.
Because the nerves that provide sensation, or receive the “messages”, to the knee come from the lower back, where messages are also sent to hips, legs, ankles, and feet, pain in the knees can be specific to the knee itself, or referred from other parts of the body.
Acute knee pain is short term and immediate. It is generally caused by an injury or an infection to the joint. Some causes of acute knee pain are:
- Torn or injured cruciate ligaments, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Such injuries are extremely common among athletes, can be minor or major, and often require surgical repair, though not always. A “popping” sound, intense pain, swelling, and redness, as well as being weak in the knee are all symptoms of cruciate ligament injuries.
- Tendon ruptures, such as those of the quadriceps or patellar tendon, generally occur among older athletes. Pain when trying to kick and an inability to bend the knee in extreme cases can signal a tendon rupture.
- Meniscal Injuries, or damage to the meniscus, are usually the result of a trauma, but can be from overuse. In addition to pain, a knee that “gives” or locks in place are signs of this type of injury.
- Dislocation, which is a complete displacement of the lower leg in relation to the upper part of the leg. This injury is an emergency, and can cause loss of the limb if not treated. Severe pain and an obviously deformed appearance all occur with a dislocated knee.
Chronic knee pain is typically the result of overuse, but not always. Osteoarthritis, (wear and tear arthritis), bursitis, (inflamed bursae caused by infection or trauma), and tendonitis, (inflammation of the tendon), are all possible causes of chronic knee pain.