What is knee pain?
Knee pain is a common problem that can occur suddenly or over a period of time. There are a number of causes of knee pain, and general treatment is readily available. Knee pain can be caused by an underlying condition, such as a sudden injury, an overuse injury, or arthritis. Treatment varies depending on the cause. Symptoms of a knee injury include pain, swelling, and stiffness.
There are many common causes, ranging from general muscle or tendon tension to some form of arthritis. Sometimes the cause is not found. Knee pain can often be treated at home and you should start to feel better after a few days.
As you get older, knee pain can become more common. There is also a risk of knee pain if you are overweight. Knee pain can sometimes be the result of sports or other injuries.
Causes of knee pain
Your knee is a complex structure that consists of three bones: the lower part of the femur, the upper part of the tibia, and the knee.
Then there are the strong ligaments and ligaments that hold these bones together, as well as the cartilage under the kneecap and between the bones to stabilize the ligament and the knee. Damage or disease affecting any of these structures can cause pain.
Knee arthritis: There are different types of arthritis that affect the knee joint, the two most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: Knee osteoarthritis develops as a result of the “wear and tear” of the knee cartilage and is most common in people older than 50.1 years. As the cartilage weakens, knee pain develops, often gradually increasing from sharp pain intensified with the movement of the knee to persistent numbness and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks multiple joints in the body. In addition to pain, swelling, redness, and warmth may also appear in the knee. Unlike osteoarthritis, knee pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis improves with activity.
Gout: Gout occurs in people who have high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. This high uric acid level causes crystals to form in certain joints, such as the big toe, fingers, knee, or hip.
Osteochondritis dissections: Osteochondritis degeneration (OCD) is another condition seen in children and adolescents caused by a lack of blood supply to a small section of the knee bone. It weakens and sometimes separates the affected bone and cartilage from the underlying bone.
Low back pain is the first symptom of pain. Be aware that many situations can have similar symptoms. As the condition progresses, knee swelling and stiffness may appear intermittently.
Knee joint infection: Infected knee joints are accompanied by significant knee pain, swelling, warmth, painful movements, and often fever. In some cases, a bacterial infection in the bloodstream is to blame for an infected joint.
Knee fracture: A patella fracture can occur from falling directly on the knee or from a direct blow to the knee.
It’s like hitting your knee on the dashboard in a car accident. In addition to significant pain and difficulty in straightening the knee, knee injuries and swelling often occur, sometimes with a visible deformity.
Bone tumor: Very rarely, osteoporosis can be the cause of knee pain.16 There may also be associated with symptoms such as fever or accidental weight loss and worsening pain, especially at night.
Risk factors for knee pain
You are more likely to have knee pain than others:
- You have weak or tight leg muscles
- Play some sports, for example, skiing and basketball.
- Rolled up to your knee in front
Symptoms of knee pain
If you have knee pain, you may have other symptoms:
- Swelling, redness, or warmth in the knee
- Injuries around the knee
- ‘Give way’ to your knee
- Lock or click
- Inability to straighten the knee
See a doctor if the pain does not improve within a few weeks, if you cannot move or put any weight on your knee, or if your knee locks or buckles.
If your knee is very sore, very swollen or deformed, or you have a fever and a hot, red knee, go to the emergency department.
Treatment for knee pain
Some common knee pain treatments are listed below (although they are not comprehensive), and not all of these treatments are suitable for all conditions.
Many early treatments for knee pain are simple, straightforward, and can be done at home.
The first treatment for the most common conditions that cause knee pain is to temporarily relax the joint, reducing immediate inflammation. Sometimes this is the only step necessary to relieve knee pain.
In addition to relaxation, placing a cold pack, ice pack, or bag of frozen vegetables on the knee is probably the most widely used treatment for knee pain. When applying ice to your knees, be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin for 15-20 minute sessions (several times a day).
Support for knee pain
Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend knee support to reduce your pain. For example, in the case of the patellar tendon, your doctor may recommend an auxiliary tapping and patellar tendon straps.
In the case of a collateral ligament injury or partial knee dislocation, it may sometimes be advisable to maintain knee stability. Similarly, for certain types of fractures, a cast or splint may be placed to heal.
Physical therapy for knee pain
Physical therapy can help with knee pain, depending on the cause and the part of the knee pain that hurts. A physical therapist can advise you based on your personal circumstances.
Treatments prescribed by your physical therapist include:
- Exercise program tailored to your specific needs – Depending on the cause of your knee pain, you may need to continue it for a while
- Pressing on the knee: This involves applying tape to the knee to change the way the knee sits or moves.
- Knee pads: You can buy these from sports stores, pharmacies, and online retailers, but they are not suitable for everyone or for all knee problems. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out if an herb is right for you.
Action medications are often used not only to reduce pain but also to treat a knee problem.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs, are commonly prescribed for patients with knee pain due to complications such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
If your pain or swelling persists despite traditional treatments like rest, ice, and taking NSAIDs, your doctor may inject cortisone, powerful medicine that treats inflammation, into your knee.
An example of a knee condition that can be treated with a cortisone injection in knee osteoarthritis. Cortisone is a powerful drug that can cause side effects, so injections should be used sparingly.
Being active is an important part of your treatment and can help you recover.
Being physically active while recovering from knee pain:
- Stop the pain from happening again
- Help maintain your current fitness level – no matter what changes you make, any activity is better than nothing
- Keep your other muscles and joints strong and flexible
- It is important to keep the muscles around the knee strong, as this will put pressure on the knee. These muscles include the thigh, calf, and hip muscles.
- This section includes some simple exercises designed to stretch, strengthen, and stabilize your knee
- It may be helpful to do these exercises with a physical therapist first, or they may be able to give you a personalized exercise plan.
Knee stretching exercises
Try to do these exercises every day.
Stretch leg raise (Seated)
Sit in a chair with good posture. Keep one of your legs straight, slowly hold position 10, and then slowly lower your leg. Do 10 times with each leg. Try to get in the habit of doing this exercise every time you sit down.
Lie on your back with a towel wrapped under the ankle of the affected leg. Bend the other leg at the knee. Use the muscles in your straight leg to push the back of your knee firmly onto the bed or floor. Hold slowly for a count of five.
Repeat at least five times with each leg. This exercise can help keep your knee from permanently bending. Try this once a day while you sleep.
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Slowly bend one knee to your chest and slide your feet across the floor until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for five seconds. Keep your leg as straight as possible and hold it in this position for five seconds.
Do 10 times with each leg. If you can’t get to the floor, sit on the couch and use a tabletop or tea tray to slide down your foot.
Knee strengthening exercises
The following exercises for knee pain are very difficult to do, so try to do them two or three times a week.
Straight leg raise (lying down)
Lie down and bend one of your legs at the knee. Keep the other leg straight and lift your foot off the bed or floor. Hold the position slowly for five seconds and then lower. Do this until you can’t do it anymore, rest for a minute, and then do it three more times.
Go down the stairs with your right foot. Raise your left foot, then down with your right foot, then your left foot. Grab the bunnies if you have to. Repeat with each leg until you can’t do it anymore. Rest for a minute, then repeat two more times. As you improve, use the raised step or take two at a time.
Hold the chair or work surface for support. Squat down until your knee is straight over your toe. The knees should not go in front of the toes. Return to your normal state.
Repeat until you can’t do it anymore, rest for a minute and then repeat two more times. As you improve, try to move forward a bit, but don’t bend your knees beyond a right angle.
Sit in the chair. Without using your arms for support, get up, and then sit down. Make sure each movement is slow and controlled. Repeat until you can’t do it anymore.
Rest for a minute, then repeat twice. If the chair is too low, begin to lift off the seat cushion and remove it when you no longer need it.