Knee pain is a common in people of all ages. The location of knee pain may vary depending on the issue. The most common type of knee pain is pain in the knee cap or patellafemoral joint. This type of knee pain can come from overuse with squatting or stepping activity or poor strength in the thigh and hip muscles. Pain in the back of the knee may be due to a problem inside the knee joint. Problems inside the knee joint that can cause knee pain may include:
Any of these issues can lead to instability in the knee joint, which may increase knee pain and swelling and possibly lead to buckling.
Arthritis is inflammation inside a joint which come from damage to the cartilage. It is often referred to as excessive “wear and tear.” The severity of symptoms can range from mild pain from time to time, to severe joint deformity and loss of mobility and function such as walking. Some with arthritis experience knee pain behind the knee, or knee pain on either side of the knee. The knee has 3 compartments. Arthritis in any or all of these compartments can cause knee pain with daily activity. Arthritis on the back of the knee cap is a common cause of knee pain in the front of the knee (anterior knee pain).
The most common forms of arthritis in the knee that cause knee pain are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Both can cause knee pain in the back of the knee, side knee pain, and in the front of the knee. Both can lead to severe joint deformity and loss of function. Osteoarthritis is the most common and is diagnosed by X-ray. It may come from excessive abnormal wear and tear of the knee joint due to muscle imbalance or over use in compromising positions. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that is diagnosed most commonly through blood work.
Pain in the side of the knee can come from several issues including arthritis. A tear in a meniscus may cause pain on one side of the knee. The side depends on which meniscus is torn. There is a medial collateral ligament on the inside of the knee and a lateral collateral ligament on the outside of the knee. Pain in the side of the knee may also stem from a sprain of one of those. Pain in the side of the knee may also come from tendonitis in the muscles that pass by the sides of the knee. These may include the hamstrings, IT Band, or adductor tendons.
The remedy for knee pain is a little different for everybody but most people can benefit from specific strength exercises to improve the quadriceps and gluteal muscles. When you have pain and swelling inside the knee, the brain is signaled to decrease the contracting information to the muscles around the knee to protect it. The problem is that these muscle sometimes need help to learn how to begin to work properly again. Physical therapy may be necessary to re-educate proper muscle activity help decrease the swelling in the knee.
Wearing proper shoe can improve the function of the knee and help to decrease pain in the knee. Sorry Ladies, but high heels can increase knee pain and wear and tear on the knee.
Avoiding deep squats and kneeling activity can help to decrease pain in knee. Deep squats can cause the pressure between the knee cap and the thigh bone to increase. This pressure can cause increased wear and tear in the knee.
A torn meniscus is difficult to diagnose on your own. The meniscus is a “C” shaped piece of cartilage that helps to increase the contact surface between the thigh bone (femur) and the lower leg bone (tibia) at the knee. There are 2 of them in the knee, one on each side. A tear in the meniscus can be caused by trauma or from abnormal wear and tear. A meniscus tear may cause knee pain, swelling, and locking of the knee. There are special test that a physician, physical therapist, or athletic trainer may perform to detect a tear in a meniscus but typically a tear is diagnosed through and MRI.
Knee pain can limit our daily lives. We can help! The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute has a team of experts the help diagnose knee pain. We fix knee pain everyday. Come see us!
By: Ehren Allen, PT, COMT