Most people suffer from a knee injury at some point or another. This can come from various movements that we do throughout our day, overuse, as well as gradual wear and tear over the years. Since the knee is the largest joint in the body, it is no wonder why having knee problems can be so detrimental to our daily activities. However, knee pain can come from a variety of different sources. As such, we explore a few of the causes today and what can be done to try to help them.
Injury to the Knee Ligaments
The ligaments in the knee are what connect the bones of the lower leg to the thigh bones. They function as a means to hold the bones together as well as stabilize the knee joint. Most commonly seen with sports injuries, these ligaments are susceptible to tears and sprains. Things you may have heard such as an “ACL tear” is actually an injury to one of these particular ligaments. These types of injuries are usually associated with severe knee pain and as such, are rarely overlooked. Depending on the extent of the injury, these types of injuries may require surgery to fix.
Arthritis is a common cause of knee pain and discomfort. Arthritis is something that should not be taken lightly, as it is a degenerative condition, meaning it will only get worse over time. The less you take care of your knees, the faster the degeneration will occur. Continued degeneration can even lead to required surgery. There are a wide variety of types of arthritis one can suffer from. The most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. The most common symptoms are swelling in the knee, stiffness, and a restricted range of motion (difficulty bending the knee).
Knee Cartilage Tears
Cartilage is a rubbery substance found at the ends of bones which serve to protect the bones as a sort of “shock-absorber.” Most likely, at some point or another, you have heard of something called a meniscus tear. This is yet another common injury of the knee and is one that typically requires surgery.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Medical professionals typically diagnose knee pain with a combination of x-rays and a full physical evaluation. They will ask about the flexibility and function of the joint, general mobility, and your pain level. If they suspect the issue may be arthritis, several other specialized types of examinations may be used to identify the specific type of arthritis it is. Once diagnosed, proper treatment can begin. Some treatments can be as simple as weight loss, wraps, pain relievers, or exercises intended to strengthen the injured area. There are many alternatives to surgery and the sooner a knee issue is diagnosed, the better the chances are that surgery can be avoided. Even in instances where surgery may be necessary, the sooner an issue is diagnosed, the better the chances of a faster recovery after surgery, as the longer an issue is avoided, the worse it usually becomes. So, if you have knee problems and they are not improving, see your healthcare professional as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis and you will have the best chances at maintaining your knees.