The primary function of the knee is to bend and straighten to allow you to sit, stand up, and move the body. Unlike other major joints, the knee is more than just a simple hinge as it also twists and rotates. It relies on several structures to support the entire body and perform all the above actions.
It works in conjunction with tendons, cartilage, bursa, ligaments, and bones. In case one of these structures is damaged, it might interfere with knee functions that support motions such as sitting, standing, walking, and crouching. This causes intense pain in the knee that can be aggravated by physical activity and overweight issues such as obesity.
What Does Knee Pain Entail?
Knee pain is characterized by swelling, long-term pain, and sensitivity in either or both knees. Knee pain is a common condition that experienced by individuals of distinct age groups. It may appear as an extension of an underlying medical condition or take place immediately after an injury. The level of discomfort you are likely to experience when you suffer from knee pain may vary depending on the cause of the pain, your physical condition before the pain, and the affected area of the knee.
Causes and Symptoms of Knee Pain
One of the most common causes of knee pain is an injury. It occurs when the knee is twisted in the wrong direction or receives blunt trauma. Individuals who actively engage in various sports are likely to suffer from strains and sprains because of sudden or abrupt movement of the knee. Other health issues that come because of aging can also cause knee pain. People suffering from arthritis, obesity, or a condition that directly involves the joints and bones may experience chronic knee pain.
For older people, knee pain can result from a weakened bone structure that occurs because of aging. Common symptoms of knee pain include stiffness or inability to straighten and bend the knee. You may also experience an audible clicking, popping or abnormal sound when you move the affected knee. Serious symptoms include limping, general numbness, and visible signs of injury.
Diagnosis of Knee Pain
A doctor will diagnose your knee pain based on your medical history and a physical exam. You need to tell the doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing, the duration of occurrence, and other symptoms besides the knee pain. A physical exam checks for areas with swelling, tenderness or pain when touched or during movement of the knee. A doctor may recommend imaging tests and lab tests depending on the findings of your medical history and medical exam.
The treatments for knee pain may vary depending on the conditions that cause your pain. Some of the common treatment methods for knee pain include medication, injections, physical therapy, and surgery. Medications might be prescribed for pain relief or to treat an underlying health condition. It is important to seek medical advice from your doctor before taking over-the-counter pain medications. You may also be taken through physical therapy sessions to stabilize and strengthen the muscles around the knee.
There are situations where medications may be injected directly to the affected knee to help reduce inflammation. These injections not only help in pain but also ensure the best mechanical movements of the knee. Surgery is often recommended as the last treatment option and may range from arthroscopic surgeries to total replacement of the knee.
It is important to take a break from the daily activities that actively engage the knee joint as it helps in quick recovery of the surrounding muscles and tissues. You can also apply ice to help ease pain and inflammation. A compression bandage can be useful as it helps in knee alignment and prevents swelling. However, it should not be removed at night and should not be tight when being used during the day.
When to See a Doctor
You should report immediately to an urgent care center if you have had a traumatic injury and you cannot walk on your knee. This helps to determine significant tendon and ligamentous injury or the possibility of a fracture. You can also seek medical help if you are suffering from overweight problems, or if your knee pain extends more than a couple of weeks.
It is not always easy to prevent knee pain especially when you actively engage in sports or perform activities that exert a lot of pressure on the knee. Apart from medications, it is important to incorporate physical therapy sessions in your daily routine to help with the quick recovery of your knee.