Knee pain is common to people of all ages. Knee pain can occur as a result of injury, for example, ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Other things that can cause knee pain include medical conditions such as arthritis, gout, and infections. Knee pain can be worse by physical activity, as well as obesity, which is affected by the surrounding muscles and their movements and is triggered by other problems (such as foot injuries).
The knee is a joint between the bones of the upper and lower leg. It allows the leg to bend and provides stability to support body weight. The knee provides supports for movements such as walking, jogging, jumping and turning.
What are the causes of knee pain?
Knee pain is a common complaint, and there are many causes which have been associated with knee pain. Care must be taken as it is important to take corrective measure in diagnosing the root cause the symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed against the cause. Causes of knee pain can be divided into three categories which are an acute injury, medical conditions, and chronic/ overuse conditions.
- Ligament injuries: ACL injury (anterior cruciate ligament) is the most common injury. ACL injury is common in sports and it occurs because of a sudden stop and changes in direction. Injury to other ligaments such as posterior cruciate ligament, lateral collateral ligament, and medial collateral ligament occur less frequently.
- Meniscus Injuries: Menisci (medial and lateral) consist of cartilage and it acts as shock absorbers between bones in the knee. The meniscus can be injured due to twisting of the knees.
- Dislocation: dislocation of the knee joint can occur and it is an emergency situation that requires immediate attention. The rate at which blood flows to the leg can be compromised due to knee dislocation and other related problems can surface over time. Dislocation of the knee occurs during a motor-vehicle accident when the knee hits the dashboard.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease which has been found to affect any joint in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause severe pain and disability, as well as swelling.
- Gout. A gout is a form of arthritis which commonly appears in big toe; in some cases, it can also affect the knee. Gout seems to be severe and is extremely painful during the acute episodes. In the event that there is no flare-up, the knee can be free from pain.
Chronic use/overuse conditions:
- Patellar Tendonitis. This is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the patella with the lower leg bones. Patellar tendonitis is a chronic disease often found in people who repeat the same movement during exercise (such as runners and cyclists).
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome. This occurs as a result of degeneration or stress under the patella where it connects with the thigh bone (femur). Patellofemoral pain is common in runners and cyclists.
- Osteoarthritis: this is the wearing down of the cartilage of the joint because of use and age
What are the symptoms of knee pain?
The location and severity of the knee pain can differ and it depends on the cause of the problem. Below are some symptoms of knee pain:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Redness and warmth to the touch
- Weakness or instability
- Popping or crunching noises
- Inability to fully straighten the knee