Knee pain is a common ailment that usually comprises almost a third of all out-patient cases involving muscle and joint pains. Additionally, it is also an injury that is very common among sports enthusiasts.
So what causes knee pain? If we are to look for the most common causes, we can find that are usually triggered by tearing of the ligaments, tearing of the cartilage or meniscus, and a runner’s knee for athletes. However, there is more to what causes knee pain than these mentioned reasons.
Causes of Knee Pain
1. Osteochondritis Dissecans or Bone Chips
Bone chips in the knee are loose fragments (commonly small) of bones or ligaments that float or stick around in the knee joint. It is also sometimes referred to as a chondral fracture. If you have this certain condition, you can feel severe pain and swell around the joint.
Our joints, just like our knees, are protected by a fluid sac called the bursa. This bursa acts as a cushion in between thus lubricating the joints. What causes knee pain in this particular part is when it becomes inflamed. The inflammation of the bursa is called bursitis. This medical condition can be attributed to overuse, physical knee injury, or infection from gout or arthritis
3. Medial Plica Syndrome
The medial plica is a tissue fold that can be found in the knees. The irritation of this fold, which is often due to over-exertion, is what causes knee pain in patients.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that is commonly associated with old age although obesity and injuries can also be factors. What causes knee pains under this condition is mainly the wearing and tearing of the cartilage around the cap making the bones rub raw together.
5. Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band is a thick band of tough tissue that extends from the hipbone to the shin. When irritated or inflamed, it results in knee injuries and pain. It is most commonly detected with athletes. Although very easy to diagnose, it is considered to be difficult to manage.
A tendon is a cord-like band that attaches the muscles to our bones. Tendonitis is simply the inflammation of these very tendons. It is often brought about by minor repetitive impact to the concerned area or the onset of a critical injury.
7. Osgood-Schlatter Disease
It is a condition characterized by knee pain, swelling, and tenderness just below the kneecap. It usually affects adolescents and is often caused by overuse of the joints and irritation of the tendon below the cap.
8. Patellar Subluxation
What causes knee pains in this particular condition is the partial dislocation of the kneecap. The cap slides out of position which triggers swelling and pain. It is most common among adolescent girls and is most commonly caused by physical incapacity rather than trauma.
9. Improperly treated Knee Injuries
There are times when an old knee injury didn’t get to heal properly. When this happens, occasional or even chronic pain in the knees can occur.
The treatment that you receive for knee joint pain will be based on the cause of the pain. Chronic conditions such as arthritis are often treated with prescription medications while injuries can be treated based on their severity. In some cases, injuries can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Proper care and treatment of injuries is the best prevention for ensuring the injury doesn’t become worst over time. Some of the most common treatments for different types of pain include the following:
- Physical therapy is often recommended for injuries that require surgery or when your mobility is affected by the injury. Therapy helps you regain the full range of motion that you had before the injury.
Medications can include anti-inflammatory prescriptions that come in injections or in pill form. These anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the swelling and pain associated with many conditions that cause knee joint pain.
- For conditions such as arthritis, heat has been shown to reduce pain significantly. For injuries that have swelling ice packs can also provide some relief.
- Capsaicin, the ingredient in peppers that makes them taste spicy, is used in over the counted creams to produce a warming effect on the skin. This can also reduce joint pain, as can products such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- Over-the-counter medications are often used when treating knee joint pain at home. These treatment options are good when you have a slight injury but can also mask the pain of a serious illness. If you have redness or swelling with your knee pain, or you find that you can’t walk, then you should see your physician immediately.
Some bacterial infections are common in joints and cause pain. Without treatment, a bacterial infection can spread and can even be fatal in severe cases.
When to See Your Doctor
You may be tempted to treat knee joint pain at home but there are some things to watch out for when doing so. If you don’t have a cause for severe pain, such as falling or another injury, then you may want to see the doctor for a diagnosis.
Many chronic diseases begin producing symptoms suddenly and without treatment may become worse. Infections also may suddenly appear and are accompanied by redness, swelling, and pain in most cases. Finding the cause of knee joint pain ensures you are getting the proper treatment.
There are many different treatment options today for injuries and diseases that allow you to enjoy the activities that you love without enduring the pain that comes with walking. With the right treatment, you can also reduce your pain levels significantly.
Knee pain can definitely be problematic, and if your knee or knees hurt, performing daily activities can be challenging.
While not all causes of knee pain require a visit to the doctor, if you are unsure about why your knee or knees are hurting, or if you are not certain what treatment you should follow for your knee pain, you should consult with your doctor promptly. Most treatment plans for knee pain are tailored toward the specific cause.