Knee Pain: Possible Causes and Solutions

The knee is one of the largest human joints. It connects the two longest bones in the body and, due to its location, withstands a constant increased load. Any malfunction of the knee affects the ability to move, because even minor pain can significantly interfere with walking. Like other joints of the legs, knees are most often affected in people who are actively involved in sports. However, pathological processes can also occur for other reasons - against the background of autoimmune diseases, obesity, bone problems, and others. What kind of diseases can talk about various kinds of pain in the knee, we will understand in the article.

Injuries: damage to the meniscus, tendons, bones

knee joint pain

The most common cause of complaints of various kinds of pain in the knee area is injuries. Moreover, the joint can suffer from both acute and chronic injury. The latter often happen to those who do not exercise properly in gyms. For example, improper squatting is a common cause of long-term knee damage. This leads not only to damage to the cartilage tissue, but also to possible dislocation and subluxation of the joint. Chronic injuries initially do not show any symptoms, but over time, pain and loss of mobility of the knee occur.

One of the most common acute injuries is a torn meniscus, a flat cartilage that acts as a shock absorber. Most often, a partial tear or infringement occurs, and the separation of a tissue fragment is diagnosed only in every tenth patient. The symptoms of a meniscus injury are:

  • Sharp pain in the knee.
  • Crunch, characteristic clicking when bending the leg.
  • Sensation of a foreign object in the knee.
  • Swelling of the joint.
  • In severe cases, immobilization.

The most common knee injuries include:

  • Sprain.
  • Dislocation and subluxation of the joint.
  • Tendon rupture.

It is extremely dangerous to ignore knee injuries. Even minor injuries without treatment can lead to serious complications, such as arthrosis. In adolescents aged 10-15 years, knee injury is sometimes complicated by Osgood-Schlatter disease. With this pathology, tuberous growths appear on the tibia, which cause significant discomfort. Various consequences of injuries require more thorough treatment, and sometimes surgery.

Inflammations: arthritis, bursitis, synovitis and others

doctor visit for knee pain

Joint inflammation is the second most common cause of pain complaints. Moreover, they can develop against the background of the same injuries. In this case, one previously damaged knee will suffer. If the symptoms appear on both legs, we are talking about a pathological process in the body. This is how, for example, rheumatoid arthritis develops, an autoimmune disease that damages joints throughout the body and, over time, leads to a loss of their mobility. Rapidly developing reactive arthritis is most often caused by an infection.

Other inflammatory conditions that can cause knee pain include:

  • Bursitis is an inflammation of the articular bag. May present as a lump under the knee (Baker's cyst) without swelling.
  • Synovitis is inflammation of the synovial membrane and accumulation of fluid in the joint cavity. The disease can develop against the background of injuries (especially damage to the meniscus), with endocrine diseases, infections, and even allergies.
  • Periarthritis is inflammation of the knee tendons. The pain in this case increases after physical exertion, is localized on the inner surface of the knee.
  • Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon. Often occurs with increased stress on the knee, including during training and during physical work.
  • Osteomyelitis is inflammation of the bone.

These diseases can be chronic, which means that periods of exacerbations and remissions will alternate. Very often, the relief of pain is mistakenly interpreted by the patient as a recovery, so he does not go to the doctor, but resorts to self-treatment to relieve the symptoms that arise. This is extremely dangerous, since inflammatory processes can lead to serious complications, including complete immobility of the knee.

Other causes of knee pain

pain in the knee joint

Knee pain can also be indicative of other joint problems. Among the most common diagnoses, doctors call the following:

  • Gonarthrosis (deforming arthrosis) is a degenerative-dystrophic joint disease caused by progressive cartilage damage. A fairly common disease that is diagnosed in 35% of patients with complaints of knee pain. In advanced stages, joint arthroplasty may be required.
  • Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone density that often manifests itself in old age.
  • Pathology of blood vessels. Pain manifests itself not only after exertion, but also against the background of hypothermia or when the weather changes.
  • Infectious diseases - chlamydia, bone tuberculosis, dysentery, etc.
  • Goff's disease (lipoarthritis) is the degeneration of adipose tissue in the joint, causing swelling and pain.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Occurs against the background of irritation between the patella and the knee joint, more often worries athletes.
  • Diseases of the spine and hip joint. Pain in the knee at the same time radiating, can spread to the entire leg.

Prevention of pain and reduction of stress on the knee

cold compress for knee pain

Particular attention should be paid to the knees of people involved in sports. Warming up before exercising will help reduce stress on the joints. You also need to properly perform squats:

  • Keep your arms outstretched in front of you, do not rest them on your knees, so as not to lose balance.
  • You can't stand on your toes.
  • Keep your back straight and legs apart as wide as possible.
  • If there is pain, do not squat too deeply (the angle formed by the legs must be at least 90 degrees).

The Arthritis Foundation does not recommend giving up squats for people with knee pain. On the contrary, according to the experts of the organization, 10 sit-ups 3 times a week have a positive effect on the joints. Only you need to do the exercises against the wall, using it as support. This helps to strengthen the muscles and maintain joint mobility.

The R. I. C. E rule will help reduce knee pain in case of injuries and damage to soft tissues:

  • Rest (rest): reduce the load on the joint, keep it at rest.
  • Ice: Apply a towel-wrapped ice pack for 20 minutes.
  • Compression: apply a compression elastic bandage to the affected knee.
  • Elevation: If possible, you need to keep the leg so that the knee is higher than the heart.

As soon as possible, you need to see a doctor for diagnosis in the following cases:

  • Prolonged or severe pain in the knee.
  • The pain returns after it has subsided.
  • Loss of joint mobility.
  • Joint deformity.
  • Change in gait, lameness.

The knee joint is damaged quite often, but with proper and timely treatment, serious consequences can be avoided. Therefore, you should not self-medicate, and at the first sign of damage, consult a doctor.