Knee pain is a common complaint that we hear every day. People may complain of a sudden pain either in one knee or both knees, and most of the time, it is due to either overusing the knee joint or due to an injury. In many cases, you really don’t have to consult a doctor as the pain will eventually go away. However, knee pain could also indicate that you are having some damage to your knee joint or it could also be another symptom of a medical condition. Therefore, it is important that you visit your doctor to find out what exactly is causing your knee pain. Continue to read this article to learn all about the causes of knee pain.
Knee pain can occur suddenly and can either be due to overuse or injury to the knee joint. It can also be associated with foot, lumbar spine, or hip problems.
Why is the knee joint more prone to get damaged?
The knee joint is one of the largest joints in our body, and it is the joint that bears most of our body weight, especially when we move about, run, or jump. For this reason, the knee joint is highly likely to get damaged.
Who is at risk of developing knee pain?
Some people are more likely to develop knee pain than the others. The risk factors include:
- Elderly individuals - with their increasing age, the knee joints begin to wear and tear causing their knees to hurt.
- Sports players – athletes are more prone to developing knee pain, especially those who play sports like football, netball, and skiing. They have a higher risk of having knee injuries as well.
- Overweight or obese individuals – The knee joints of people who are overweight or obese will have to constantly bear a heavier weight. Therefore, their knees are more likely to get damaged than people who have a normal weight.
How serious can it be?
For some individuals, knee pain can be so severe to the point that it limits their daily activities, whereas, for others, it can be mild. However, having a mild knee pain for a long period of time can also be a disturbance to them when carrying out day-to-day activities or to live their desired active lifestyle.
What are the common causes of knee pain?
There are several causes of knee pain. Here are some of the common causes:
- sprain or strain
- damage to the cartilage or menisci
- ligament tear
- bleeding into the joint
- Osgood-Schlatter disease
- septic arthritis
Let us know additional information about each of these conditions.
Sprain or strain of the knee joints
If you think that your knee pain is just due to overusing of your joints or because of doing activities more than you’re used to, then you probably have sprained or strained your knee. A strained or sprained knee joint means that you have stretched a tissue in the knee joint, which causes the pain. Although there is no permanent damage to the tissue, resting and applying ice over the knee joint can help alleviate the pain.
If you are an elderly person, and if your knee pain is recurrent and is associated with stiffness, then the most likely cause of your knee pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused by the damage to the articular cartilage.
The pain in your joints may increase as you stand up and put on weight on the knee joints. Your knees might also become stiffer if they are left without moving for a while. Sometimes, it may even feel as if your knees are locked or keeps “giving way.”
Osteoarthritis is less common among young individuals, but it can occur, especially if they are overweight or have a past history of severe injury to the knee joint.
Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon that connects your kneecap to the shin bone. This condition is more precisely known as “patellar tendonitis,” but also commonly known as “jumper’s knee” because it can be brought about by activities that require frequent jumping like basketball or volleyball.
Your knee pain can be alleviated by resting, applying ice packs, and taking pain killers.
Damage to the cartilage or menisci
Menisci are rubbery pads that sit on the knee joint between the upper and lower legs. The function of these rubber pads is to cushion the bone and act as a shock absorber. These menisci can be damaged by a sudden twisting of the knee that causes pain, swelling, and sometimes, locking of the knee. Menisci damage may require surgical interventions.
The cartilage that covers your knee joint can also be damaged from certain knee injuries.
A repetitive movement of the knee or continuously kneeling for a long period of time can cause fluid to build up within the knee joint. This condition is known as bursitis or “housemaid’s knee.” This knee condition is particularly common in people who are doing jobs that involve frequent kneeling such as carpet installers. It is also common among sports players such as footballers.
Ligament or tendon tear
The ligaments are tough bands of tissues that connect two bones together while tendons are tissues that connect a muscle to a bone. These tissues can be torn when doing sports activities that involve running such as football and rugby.
Bleeding into the joint
Any significant knee joint injury can result in bleeding into the joint. This condition is known as “haemarthrosis.” This can result either from a tear in one of the cruciform ligaments or by a fracture to one of the bones of the knee.
Swelling, warmth, stiffness, bruising, and pain are some of the signs and symptoms of haemarthrosis. If you have a swollen ankle, go to the hospital immediately for treatment. Most often, surgery is required to repair the damage.
Haemarthrosis is more likely to occur if you are taking anticoagulant medications such as warfarin. In such cases, bleeding into the joints could occur with the slightest injury.
Osgood Schlatter’s disease
This disease is common among teenagers and young adults when they are having their growth spurt. The bone on top of the lower leg can get damaged during a growth spurt. This condition is common among children who are actively participating in sports that involve running, jumping, or repetitive bending of the knees.
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by the build up of uric acid within your knee joint. You are likely to have gout if you experience sudden severe episodes of knee pain that are associated with redness and warmth. The pain caused by gout is so severe occurring even at rest. Having gout may also limit the movements of your knee joint.
Septic arthritis refers to an infection of your knee joint. This type of arthritis is a very serious condition and is extremely painful. It is associated with knee redness, warmth, swelling, and a general feeling of being unwell as well as having a fever. It is also commonly mistaken with gout. If you have septic arthritis, then your doctor will drain the fluid collected in your knee joint and start you on a course of antibiotics.