What are Knee Problems?
Pain is a common knee problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint (femur, tibia, fibula), the kneecap (patella), or the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage (meniscus) of the knee. Knee pain can be aggravated by physical activity, as well as obesity, affected by the surrounding muscles and their movements, and be triggered by other problems (such as a foot injury). Knee pain can affect people of all ages, and home remedies can be helpful unless it becomes severe.
What is chronic knee pain?
Chronic knee pain is long-term pain, swelling, or sensitivity in one or both knees. The cause of your knee pain can determine the symptoms you experience. Many conditions can cause or contribute to chronic knee pain, and many treatments exist. Each person’s experience with chronic knee pain will be different.
Causes of Knee Pain
Temporary knee pain is different from chronic knee pain. Many people experience temporary knee pain as a result of an injury or accident. Chronic knee pain rarely goes away without treatment, and it isn’t always attributable to one incident. It’s most often the result of several causes or conditions.
Physical conditions or diseases can cause knee pain. These include:
- Osteoarthritis: pain, inflammation, and joint destruction caused by degeneration and deterioration of the joint
- Tendinitis: pain in the front of the knee that is made worse when climbing, taking stairs, or walking up an incline
- Bursitis: inflammation caused by repeated overuse or injury of the knee
- Chondromalacia patella: damaged cartilage under the kneecap
- Gout: arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid
- Baker’s cyst: a buildup of synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates the joint behind the knee
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes painful swelling and can eventually cause joint deformity and bone erosion
- Dislocation: dislocation of the kneecap most often the result of trauma
- Meniscus tear: a rupture in one or more of the cartilages in the knee
- Torn ligament: tear in one of the four ligaments in the knee — the most commonly injured ligament is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Bone tumors: osteosarcoma (second most prevalent bone cancer), most commonly occurs in the knee
Factors that may make chronic knee pain worse:
- Injuries to the structure of the knee can cause bleeding and swelling and can create a chronic problem over time if not treated properly
- Sprains and strains
- Being overweight or obese (every extra pound of body weight puts an extra 9lbs of pressure on the knees!)
- Bad posture and form when doing physical activity
- Not warming up or cooling down before or after physical activity
- Improperly stretching the muscles
Symptoms of Knee Pain
The symptoms of chronic knee pain are different for each person, and the cause for the knee pain often affects how the pain feels. Chronic knee pain may present as a:
- Constant ache
- Sharp, shooting pain when in use
- Dull burning discomfort
- You may also experience chronic swelling and pain when the knee is touched.
Treatment of Knee Pain
Knee pain from osteoarthritis remains a major cause of disability and missed worked days. Conservative treatment is typically aimed at relieving pain and begins with anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and opioid pain medications. Injection therapy with corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid will often be used as the next line of treatment, but they do not contribute to healing, just symptom management. Surgical treatments such as arthroscopy, subchondral bone drilling, and microfracture are often the next steps in the treatment cascade.
Unfortunately, many of these patients continue to progress and eventually undergo knee joint replacement surgery. Stem cell therapy for knees is a minimally invasive procedure that has the potential to decrease inflammation, halt the progression of arthritic damage, repair joint cartilage, and delay or avoid knee replacement surgery.