The largest joint in the body, the knee moves like a hinge, allowing you to sit, squat, walk or jump and is made of three bones - femur or the thigh bone, tibia or the shin bone and the patella or the kneecap. The knee is a joint that has three compartments. This joint has an inner (medial) and an outer (lateral) compartment. The kneecap (patella) joins the femur to form a third compartment called the patellofemoral joint. The thigh bone (femur) meets the large shinbone (tibia) forming the main knee joint. The knee joint is surrounded with ligaments strapping the inside and outside of the joint (collateral ligaments) as well as crossing within the joint (cruciate ligaments) providing stability and strength to the knee joint. The meniscus is a thickened cartilage pad between the two joints formed by the femur and tibia. The meniscus acts as a smooth surface for motion and absorbs the load of the body above the knee when standing. This anatomy of the knee is reflective of its function in ambulation. Knee stability and pain-free range of motion are important in maintaining daily function. Causes for knee pain are often associated with stress on the knee joint such as during sports activities, such as while running, playing soccer or skiing as also due to the repeated stress due to the wear and tear arising due to age. Most commonly, overuse, age, and traumatic injuries cause structural damage to the knee that may limit its function.
Knee pain - Overview
Knee pain can be of various types. It can be caused by a sudden injury, an underlying cause or can be triggered by Arthritis. Hence, the treatment can vary according to the problems one has with their knee. Symptoms of a knee injury can be swelling, pain, redness and stiffness. The main function of knee joint is to bend, straighten and bear the weight of the body.
Knee pain - Symptoms and causes
- Stiffness or inability to stretch and bend the knees
- Popping or clicking sound from knee joints
- Pain with swelling, redness and fever
- Inability to stand
- Limping due to knee pain
- Feeling numbness
- Visible injury
- Dislocated knee cap
- Meniscal (Cartilage) tear
Common Causes of Knee Pain
People who live an active lifestyle of sports and other vigorous activities complain of knee problems. Some people will have severe knee pain where it interferes their daily activities. Knee pain can be caused by injuries in the knee ligament, cartilage tear and arthritis.
Types of Knee Arthritis - Knee osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis
This is one of the most common types of Arthritis which affects the knee. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the knee breaks down due to injury or wear and tear. In early stages, pain may be felt when the patient is involved in sports and other rigorous activities. As osteoarthritis progresses, it may interfere in daily activities as well.
It is an autoimmune disease which causes knee pain. Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint inflammation which makes the knee stiff, swollen and painful. If RA is not treated on time, it may cause permanent damage to the knee joints.
Knee Ligament Injuries
A ligament injury happens when the fibres in the ligaments are torn. A direct blow to the knee or a knock on the knee can cause ligament tear. It can also happen during a fall, while playing a sport or even when you make sudden movements.
Signs that you should be seen by a doctor
Make an appointment with the doctor if you see signs like redness, fever, significant pain, swelling etc. the doctor will check your knee for visible symptoms. If there are no visible symptoms, then the doctor will proceed to do a range of motion tests. The doctor then determines the type of treatment needed.
Common Knee Injuries
Common knee injuries include
- Ligament injuries
- Tendon tears
Risk factors, Complications, Prevention
Risk factors of getting knee pain include excess weight, lack of flexibility or muscle strength, rigorous sports and previous injury. All knee pains are not serious but the serious ones which increase pain or swelling can cause permanent damage, if left untreated. You can prevent knee pain if you keep weight under control, get a trainer for your sport so that your knee joints stay healthy and to be sensible when exercising not to strain on knee joints.