Knee Pain – What Is Causing My Chronic Knee Pain?

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Knee pain is among one of the most common complaints plaguing Americans. In fact, it is responsible for approximately a third of the issues that patients see doctors for with regards to joint or bone discomfort. For athletes in particular, knee pain tends to be a very common complaint – as about one half of all athletes in the United States suffer each year from such pain.

Even though knee pain is a big problem for athletes, it is also very common amongst the American population that does not regularly practice sports. Most people will experience some form of knee pain at some point in their life. Be it exercise, sports, or other activities, knee pain can come as a result of any strenuous pressure on the knee itself. Tendinitis, muscle strains and other serious injuries to cartilage and ligaments can lead to moderate to severe knee pain. In some cases, sudden knee pain can be so severe that it limits the individual’s ability to participate in daily activities. For other individuals, sporadic flare ups of knee pain may eventually become a chronic interference with everyday life. However, knee pain affects you, it is important to understand that if you are experiencing pain in your knee you should not ignore this symptom.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are one of the more common causes of knee pain. They can affect any of the tendons, fluid-filled sacs (also referred to as bursae), or ligaments in or around the knee. Not only that, but knee injuries can also occur in the cartilage and bone that surround the knee. Some of the most common types of knee injuries include:

  • Torn meniscus: The meniscus itself is the rubbery, tough part of cartilage that performs as a sort of shock absorber between the thighbone and the shinbone. A sudden twist or jerk to the knee while bearing pressure, can easily result in a torn meniscus.
  • ACL injury: The anterior cruciate ligament is also referred to as the ACL – it is one of the four ligaments that attach the thighbone to the shinbone. An injury to the ACL is common amongst those individuals who play soccer, basketball, or other sports where a sudden shift in movement or change in direction is frequent.
  • Knee bursitis: Certain injuries or pressures can cause the bursae, or small sacs of fluid cushioning the outer part of the knee joint and making it so ligaments and tendons glide smoothly around the joints, to become inflamed.
  • Patellar tendinitis: The medical term tendinitis refers to inflammation and irritation of one or more tendons. Tendons are the fibrous and thick tissues that attach the muscles of the body to the bone. Inflammation of the patellar tendon, which attaches the shin bone to the front muscle of the thigh (quadriceps), is common among skiers, runners, cyclists and any other athlete that partakes in a sport involving jumping.

Arthritis of the Knee

There are over 100 different types of arthritis known to man. Some of the most common types that affect the knee are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is the most debilitating type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune condition which can affect any joint of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that generally varies in severity, and that may come about in flare ups.
  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is also commonly referred to degenerative arthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis. The condition itself is the result of wear and tear on the cartilage of the knee. As we age, osteoarthritis may become worse due to the deterioration in the condition of the joints.
  • Pseudogout: Pseudogout is not the same condition as gout, though it is often mistaken for it. Pseudogout is instead the result of calcium-containing crystals developing in the fluid of the joint. The knee is the most common joint affected by Pseudogout.
  • Gout: Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs as a result of the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Though gout is most common in the big toe, it may also be found in the knee.
  • Septic arthritis: When the knee joint becomes infected, it is known as septic arthritis. Septic arthritis leads to pain, redness and swelling on and around the knee. These symptoms are often accompanied by fever and are not the result of trauma.

Mechanical Problems of the Knee

Some common mechanical problems of the knee that cause knee pain are:

  • Iliotibial band syndrome: This mechanical issue occurs when the ligament that connects the outside of the tibia (iliotibial band) to the outside of the pelvic bone becomes tight and rubs against the outermost segment of the femur. This is a condition that often affects distance runners.
  • Loose body: In certain circumstances, degeneration of cartilage or bone can cause a piece of cartilage or bone to break off. When this happens the loose body will float in joint space. It may or may not cause issues, depending on whether or not it interferes with the movement of the knee joint.
  • Dislocated kneecap: The kneecap becomes dislocated when the patella bone that covers the front most part of the knee moves out of place. It is most common for the kneecap to slip to the outside of the knee.

Treatment for Knee Pain

The treatment of your knee pain will depend largely on the condition that is causing the pain. Cases of knee pain that involve only mild to moderate discomfort will generally resolve on their own. While more severe pain often indicates a more serious issue.

Whether your knee pain is mild or severe you should contact Epic Healthcare today to diagnose the possible causes of pain.