Often people feel knee pain irrespective of their age. A lot depends on their level of activities where one can just be sedentary at home or office while other can be an active sports person.
Most common symptoms found can be pain on the inner side of knees mainly on weight bearing or standing up from sitting, weakness or instability, swelling and warmth in and around knees or just cracking/ grinding sounds from the joint.
Here we discuss some of the most common knee pain conditions and their management with you.
- Ligament injuries
- Meniscus injuries
- Patellar tendinitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteoarthritis Also called the degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis seen in knees. It’s a wear-and-tear condition that occurs when the cartilage in your knee deteriorates with use and age. Mostly seen above 60 years of age with signs of inability to straighten the knees, pain and difficulty with stairs. Patient complains pain on inner aspect of the joint and x rays showing reduced joint space. It is often associated with weakness of the thigh muscles which therefore becomes an important part of its management.
- Ligament injuries Ligaments are short bands of tough, flexible tissue, which connect the bones of the knee together. The ligament functions to limits excess movement between the knee and hence provide stability to the joint. In case of injuries to these ligaments often one feels tenderness, swelling, pain and instability to the knee. Most common ligaments injured are anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. Mechanism of injury is usually sports where twisting and or direct hit rupture them.
- Meniscus Injuries The meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone (knee joint). It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it. It gives rise to locking of the knee joint while straightening it or walking.
- Patellar tendinitis It causes irritation and inflammation of pateller tendons — the thick, fibrous tissues that attach thigh muscles to leg bone. This inflammation is usually seen in young people between 15-40 years. It usually happens due to an injury to the patellar tendon, which runs from the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone and allows you to kick, run and jump. Runners, skiers, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities may develop patellar tendinitis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. Apart from joints, this condition affects the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. It often results in widened eroded knee joints with pain and instabilities of ligaments.
Prevention of knee pain
Some precautions can prevent the development of knee pain. Some of these are discussed here.
- Reduce excessive body weight. Higher body weight results in excessive loading of the knee joints which in turn lead to damage to the knee cartilage fast as a result increasing the wear and tear mechanism of the joint.
- Exercise regularly. This include both cardio training such as walking or running and also strength training of the individual leg muscles groups such as quadriceps, hamstrings, abductors, adductors and hip rotators muscles. Calf muscle training is also important for weight bearing. These strong muscles support the knee joint and deaccelerates the degeneration process of the knee.
- Don’t forget to warm up before exercises in form of leg stretches, cycling or walking as this prepares the right temperature of the body muscles for training.
- Use good shoes to avoid excessive ground impact forces to the leg and for a proper fit. It gives better alignment and balance thus minimizing knee injuries.
- Rest or take a break from your normal activities to reduce repetitive strain on your knee, give the injury time to heal and help prevent further damage. This is important for sports person so as to avoid overtraining and its effects.
- Consider physical therapy. If you already have a knee injury, visit a physical therapist that can help to set up an appropriate exercise regime.
- In case of acute knee injuries associated with snapping sounds, severe swelling visit a doctor for more help.