Knee pain affects people of all ages and affects sedentary individuals just as much as active athletes. The knee is one of our main weight-bearing joints, and also happens to be the joint most prone to injury. More often than not, we tend to take our knees for granted, and it is not until a serious injury occurs that we truly appreciate how important they actually are in our daily lives.
There is a multitude of causes for knee pain. Some are relatively mild conditions that can improve simply with proper rest, while some are serious and require prompt medical treatment or surgery.
7 Common Causes of Knee Pain
(PS: Listed below, not in any particular order)
#1 Knee Osteoarthritis (OA)
Also known as degenerative arthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis, Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by cartilage degeneration and osteophyte formation, leading to joint space reduction and ultimately, bone rubbing against bone. Knee Osteoarthritis tends to occur with increased age, but there are many other risk factors that also predispose one to OA. Other than knee pain, people with OA typically experience joint stiffness, swelling, reduced range of motion and deformity.
#2 Ligament Injury
The ligaments of the knee joint work together to provide stability. Ligaments are strong, tough bands of fibrous tissue, but can be strained or ruptured as a result of excessive physical forces. For example, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury may occur as a result of a sudden change in direction or twisting of the knee, most commonly when playing sports such as basketball or football. More than one ligament may be involved, and sometimes meniscal injuries can occur in conjunction with ligament injuries.
#3 Meniscal Injury
The menisci are two thick crescent-shaped pads of cartilage that act as shock absorbers and also reduce friction. They can tear when the knee undergoes a twisting motion while it is bent, usually as a result of playing sports. They can also be worn out with increasing age, overuse and obesity. Other concurrent symptoms include locking or “jamming”, difficulty straightening the knee, and swelling.
#4 Patella Dislocation
A twisting injury or direct blow to the knee can cause the kneecap to slip completely out of place, leading to intense pain on movement. This is known as patella dislocation. When the kneecap slips partially out of place, it is called a subluxation. There are other factors that increase the risk of patella dislocation, such as hyperflexible joints and weak quadriceps muscles.
This condition occurs more frequently in athletic teenagers. The initial treatment requires prompt relocation of the patella by a trained medical professional, followed by rehabilitation. Without physiotherapy, the chance of recurrence is 50% and eventually, surgery may be required.
Gout is caused by excessive buildup of uric acid crystals in the affected joint. Repeated attacks to the same joint over time eventually leads to joint erosion and arthritis. Gout tends to occur in only large joints, and usually, only one joint is affected at any one time.
Symptoms can come on acutely, and patients typically suffer from intense pain and swelling of the joint. Gout is usually diagnosed clinically. If there is any doubt, the gold standard test performed is knee joint aspiration, whereby the presence of uric acid crystals confirms the diagnosis.
Knee fracture can occur as a result of trauma (eg. road traffic accident) or falls. People who have fragile bones due to osteoporosis may sustain a knee fracture by simply tripping or stepping wrong. The pain may be excruciating but sometimes can simply present as a nagging ache. Depending on the type of fracture and the location within the knee joint, treatment may be conservative with cast immobilization, or surgery.
#7 Patellar Tendonitis
Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, refers to inflammation in the patellar tendon located just below the kneecap. It is more common in people who participate in sports that require frequent jumping, such as basketball and volleyball. However, it can occur in non-athletes as well. The pain is felt at the location of the patella tendon in the front of the knee.
The above are some of the common causes of Knee Pain. If you wish to speak to our doctors about Knee Pain issues, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org ,or you can call us at +65 6962 2144 or visit our Siglap Branch (joint pain clinic).
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