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Knee Pain Treatment

Knee pain is a common ailment that can affect people regardless of their health or lifestyle, from athletes to office workers. Whether it’s caused by injury, overuse, or underlying medical conditions, knee pain can significantly impact your ability to perform daily tasks. Talking about knee pain causes and symptoms with a specialist at Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine can help your mobility and improve your day-to-day life.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the human body. It connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), with the kneecap (patella) sitting in front of these to provide protection. The knee is a hinge joint that enables the leg to bend and straighten as well as providing some rotation.

The anatomy of the knee joint consists of several key components:

  • Bones: The knee joint is formed by three bones – the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (kneecap). These bones come together to form a structure that supports the weight of the body and allows for movement.
  • Ligaments: There are four main ligaments in the knee joint that provide stability and support. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) cross over each other inside the knee, while the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are located on either side of the joint.
  • Meniscus: The menisci are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that sit between the femur and tibia. They act as shock absorbers, helping to distribute weight evenly across the joint, as well as providing cushioning during movement.
  • Cartilage: Articular cartilage covers the ends of the femur, tibia, and patella within the knee joint. This smooth tissue helps reduce friction between bones during movement, allowing for smooth motion without pain or discomfort.
  • Synovial Membrane: The synovial membrane lines the inner surface of the knee joint capsule and produces synovial fluid, which lubricates and nourishes all parts.

Symptoms of Knee Pain

Problems with the knee that cause pain can occur in a variety of ways, depending on the underlying cause. It may affect your ability to do simple activities like walking or climbing stairs.

Common symptoms of knee pain include swelling, stiffness, weakness, clicking or popping sounds, limited range of motion, redness, warmth, and difficulty bearing weight. These signs can result from various causes such as inflammation, injury, arthritis, or muscle weakness.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Ignoring persistent knee pain could lead to further complications down the line, so it’s essential to address any discomfort promptly.

When to See a Doctor for Knee Pain

A common issue, many people experience either left or right knee pain at some point in their lives. While minor problems can often be managed with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication, there are times when it’s important to see a doctor for investigation and treatment.

Here are some situations in which you should consider seeing a doctor for knee pain:

  • Severe Pain: If you are experiencing intense or severe knee pain that does not improve with rest or over-the-counter medications, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition that requires medical attention.
  • Swelling and Redness: If your knee is swollen, red, warm to the touch, or has visible signs of inflammation, this could indicate an infection or other inflammatory condition that needs to be addressed by a healthcare professional.
  • Difficulty Walking or Bearing Weight: If you have trouble walking or putting weight on your affected knee due to pain or instability, this could be a sign of a more serious injury such as a ligament tear or fracture that requires medical intervention.
  • Limited Range of Motion: If you are experiencing stiffness in your knee joint that limits your ability to fully extend or bend your leg, this could indicate damage to the joint cartilage or other structures within the knee that may require treatment from a doctor.
  • Recurrent Pain: If you have experienced recurrent episodes of knee pain over time, it may be indicative of an underlying chronic condition such as arthritis or tendonitis that needs to be properly diagnosed and managed by a healthcare provider.
  • Recent Trauma: If you have recently suffered an accident or incident that has left you with knee pain, a doctor will be able to determine whether you have an injury needing treatment, such as a fracture.

Causes of Knee Pain

Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from acute injuries to long-term, chronic conditions.

Some common causes of knee pain include:

  • Ligament Injuries: The most common ligament injury in the knee is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This can happen during sports activities or sudden movements that put stress on the knee.
  • Meniscus Tears: The meniscus is a cartilage cushion in the knee that helps absorb shock and provide stability. Tears in the meniscus can occur due to twisting or sudden impact.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of arthritis can cause inflammation and damage to the joints, leading to knee pain and stiffness.
  • Patellar Tendonitis: This condition, also known as jumper’s knee, occurs when the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone becomes inflamed from overuse or repetitive stress.
  • Bursitis: Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction between tissues in the body. When these sacs become inflamed, often due to repetitive movements or kneeling for extended periods, it can result in pain and swelling around the knee joint.
  • Overuse Injuries: Activities that involve repetitive bending or high-impact movements, like running, can put strain on the knees and lead to conditions like patellofemoral syndrome or iliotibial band syndrome.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts added pressure on the knees, which can contribute to wear and tear on the joints and increase the risk of developing a range of knee problems.

Diagnosis of Knee Pain

Diagnosing the cause of sore knees typically involves a combination of physical examination, medical history review, and diagnostic tests. During a physical examination, your doctor will assess the range of motion in the joint and look for signs of swelling, redness, or tenderness. They will want to know if you have a sharp pain in the knee or a more aching sensation. They may also ask you to perform certain movements to help pinpoint the source of your pain.

Your medical history is also an important factor in diagnosing knee pain, so you may be asked about any recent injuries, activities that worsen the pain, or any other symptoms you may be experiencing.

Your doctor may choose to recommend diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans for further evaluation before setting a treatment plan to address your knee pain and the underlying cause.

Treatment for Knee Pain

Treatment options range from conservative measures like rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), to medications for pain relief, physical therapy, or even surgery in severe cases. The treatment your doctor chooses will depend on the underlying cause of the knee pain and its severity.

If your knees hurt, contact our expert medical team today for a professional assessment and treatment plan for your knee pain. Ignoring knee pain may result in worsening the problem and more serious consequences later. Our compassionate experts at Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine clinics across New Jersey and Pennsylvania will create a tailored treatment approach to resolve your knee pain fast.

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