Acute and chronic knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages, but primarily adults. Knee pain may be the result of an acute or chronic injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and autoimmune diseases can also cause knee pain.
Many types of minor knee pain can respond well to self-care measures, and can easily be diagnosed and treated via telehealth. Anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and knee braces can help relieve knee pain. In some cases, however, your knee may require surgical attention.
Below, we’ve gathered up the most common orthopedic causes for knee pain, and what you can do to help treat the pain.
The meniscus is the shock absorber of the knee joint. Each knee has two menisci, a medial and a lateral. Because of the way the medial meniscus is tethered inside the knee, it is less accepting to a twisting-type of maneuver about the knee and more prone to tearing. Often, however, the meniscus can just wear out and form a degenerative tear as we age.
Patients will typically present with knee pain at the joint line on the inside of the knee (with a medial meniscus tear), and pain with kneeling, squatting or going up or down stairs. Occasionally a “click” can be heard or felt with the above maneuvers.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the strongest ligament in the knee. It runs diagonally inside the middle of the knee, connecting the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), and provides critical stability to the joint. Injuries to the ACL can be serious and may often require surgery, particularly in younger or active individuals.
We often see ACL injuries in those who play sports such as basketball, soccer, or other activities that require a quick change in direction, and as above, can occur with twisting-type injuries.
Some knee injuries cause inflammation in the bursae around the knee. Bursa are small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint so that tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint. When these sacks become inflamed, this is called bursitis.
Most cases of bursitis are not serious and can be treated by self-care. However, some instances may require antibiotic treatment or aspiration, which is a procedure that uses a needle to withdraw excess fluid. Rarely but occasionally a surgical excision of the bursal sock is required.
Tendonitis or inflammation of the tendons around the knee can occur. The most common case of knee tendinitis would be patellar tendinitis. This can occur due to an injury or inflammation of the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone).
The patellar tendon works with the front of the thigh to extend the knee so a person can run, jump, and perform other physical activities.
Often referred to as jumper’s knee, patellar tendonitis is common among athletes who frequently lunge or jump. However, any physically active person can be at risk of developing patellar tendonitis.
Multiple types of arthritis exist, with the most commons being: osteoarthritis, gout/pseudogout or an auto-immune type of arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Wear and tear arthritis that we all have to look forward to as humans is called osteoarthritis. This is by far the most common type of knee arthritis that we see as Orthopedic Surgeons.
The main goal in treating arthritis is to diagnose the specific type of arthritis, and then relieve the pain and inflammation, helping return mobility to the affected joint. With severe arthritis, no matter the type, patients may often benefit from a knee joint replacement.
The bones of the knee, including the kneecap (patella), can be broken during motor vehicle collisions or falls. People whose bones have been weakened by osteoporosis can sometimes sustain a knee fracture simply by stepping wrong.
Your doctor may apply a cast or splint to help prevent motion in your leg during healing, or surgery may be indicated depending on the type/severity of the fracture. The goal of either treatment is to keep the broken ends of bone in proper position while they heal. Depending upon your specific fracture, you may be allowed to bear weight on your leg while wearing a cast or brace.
If you are experiencing knee problems or knee pain, please contact our Orthopedic Doctors online -24/7 at MoonlightOrtho.com, where we can offer a diagnosis and treatment recommendations via an online visit with a board-certified Orthopedic knee specialist.