Everything You Need to Know About Knee Pain
Almost everyone has knee pain at some time or another. It can be a temporary issue caused by a slight injury, or it can be chronic pain that disrupts your daily life. There are all sorts of causes of painful knees, and being able to identify the cause is essential to treatment.
When you have this condition, you may experience multiple symptoms, including:
- Sharp stabbing pain in one or more locations of the knee
- Generalized pain in the entire knee joint
- Difficulty bending or straightening the joint
- Grinding, squeaking, or popping noises in the knee
- Redness, swelling, and warmth around the knee
- Trouble standing, walking, or sitting in certain positions
When to Get Medical Help
If the pain lasts more than a day or two, it is time to see a doctor. You should also see the doctor if there is any extreme swelling or obvious deformity to the knee. If you have a fever, cannot put weight on the knee, or have extreme pain, you need to get medical attention.
If you do not get medical help promptly, you may experience some complications due to your pain. The most common issues are just increasing pain, joint instability, and weakness. People who ignore the pain and continue using the knee without proper treatment may end up losing functionality in that joint.
Knee Pain Causes
Painful knees can be triggered by injuries, arthritis, or multiple other medical conditions that affect the bones, ligaments, and cartilage in the joint.
Any fall, sharp blow to the knee, or overextension of the joint can cause one or more of these issues:
- Fractures: The most common fracture tends to be the kneecap.
- Dislocations: These occur when one or more of the bones in the knee pop out of place.
- Ligament tears: Tears to the ACL or other ligament holding the joint together are common when the knee twists sharply.
- Bursitis: The bursae are small fluid sacs that lubricate the joint, but they can get inflamed and painful.
- Meniscal tear:This is a tear to the cartilage that is meant to protect the knee.
Arthritis is a generalized term referring to inflammation in the knee, and it is a very common cause of joint pain. There are actually multiple types of arthritis that can all cause pain in the knee, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
Other Medical Conditions
There are quite a few other medical conditions that can cause painful knees.
- Joint infections
- Knee cancer
- Connective tissue disorders
- Osgood-Schlatter disease
- Ilotibial band syndrome
Generally, those who play sports or do physical labor are at risk. Anything that overworks the knee or makes it move in sharp, twisting motions can cause an injury. Being overweight or having a previous injury can also increase your risk.
Joint pain prevention relies on protecting the knees. People should avoid running or sports that put too much pressure on the knee. If they have to knee a lot, they should use kneepads. Losing weight, stretching before exercise, and wearing supportive shoes can all help reduce the risk of pain.
Diagnosing the cause of pain starts with a basic examination of the knee. Then the doctor may move on to various tests, such as:
- X-rays to look for fractures
- Ultrasounds to see how the tissues of the knee move around
- CT and MRI scans to examine soft tissues in great detail
- Blood tests to check for infection
- Arthrocentesis, a type of knee fluid analysis
Depending on what causes the pain, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments.
Medications and Injections
There are all sorts of medications that can reduce pain. Your doctor may also suggest taking an anti-inflammatory to bring down swelling. Finally, injections of corticosteroids straight to the knee can reduce inflammation.
You might need physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility to the knee. This is a blend of exercises that help improve range of motion and stability for the joint.
If the damage is very severe, you might need surgery to repair it. A few common options include:
- Ligament reconstruction
- Ligament or cartilage repair
- Partial knee replacement
- Total knee replacement
These home treatments can provide some relief from pain.
- Rest the knee
- Ice the knee
- Use a compression bandage
- Elevate the knee
- Use a heating pad
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you expect at your appointment? The doctor will ask about your pain, examine your knee, and run tests.
Should you do anything to prepare before your appointment? Make a note of any medications you are taking. Think about when the symptoms started and what makes them worse.
What is the long term outlook for my painful knee? If there is permanent damage, pain in the knee may come and go. However, proper treatment can reduce pain and keep it from worsening.
When will my knee feel better? If it is a minor injury, the pain may go away in four to five days. More complicated pain causes may require months of treatment though.
AZ Pain and Spine Can Help
You do not have to put up with inconvenient and uncomfortable knee pain on your own. Our knowledgeable healthcare professionals have plenty of experience diagnosing and treating pain in the knees. Contact us today to make your appointment and learn how we can help you.
Since there are various possible causes of knee pain, there are also different treatment options depending on what’s causing the pain. The most common pain treatment is medications, either over-the-counter pain meds or prescription drugs. However, medications must be taken in low dosage and only as required.
Physical therapy is also a helpful part of the treatment program. This helps restore the stability, strength and flexibility of the knee muscles. This is especially true if the cause of the pain is injury.
For chronic pain, injections may be an option. This is a helpful treatment for arthritis and other conditions that cause pain and inflammation in the knee. In severe cases, surgery may be required. For instance, if the knee needs replacement, total knee replacement or partial knee replacement may be opted. Other non-invasive and invasive treatment options are also available, depending on the result of diagnosis and the underlying cause of the knee pain.
Why You Should Reach Out to AZ Pain and Spine
If your knee pain persists even after self-care and medications, don’t wait for it to get any worse. Contact a pain specialist immediately. Pain specialists best understand the complexity of pain and are highly qualified in providing safe and effective pain management solutions. Make an appointment with AZ Pain and Spine Institute to have your knee pain and condition treated.