In the United States, approximately 25% of adult Americans experience chronic knee pain. This percentage increases steadily amongst the demographic of elder Americans, which can eventually lead to possible disabilities. Women are much more prone to knee pain than men and require far more replacements. While there are many causes of knee pain, it is essential to identify your pain to decide the best treatment. Understanding the causes of knee pain will help prevent future damage, resulting in much more severe treatment than standard medication. Nearly five million Americans have undergone knee arthroplasty and continue their day to day life with knee implants. So, what may cause chronic knee pain, you ask? Here are a few reasons for your knee pain.
Accidents and injury is the most common way to acquire pain, especially in the knees. Acute knee pain resulting from an accident or injury causes pain for a short period of time, usually less than six weeks. When it persists longer than six weeks, it becomes chronic and requires treatment. Injuries and accidents can extend from ACL tears, fractures, dislocation, torn meniscus, and much more. Without proper treatment, the following conditions can turn into eventual disabilities. Treatment for this type of pain can range from anti-inflammatory medications, knee braces, steroid injection, and in some cases, surgery. Certain joints, ligaments, and muscles in the knees can be impacted depending on the injury and may require surgery.
Most individuals who suffer knee pain from injuries are athletes, those affected by car accidents or falls, or have underlying medical conditions that require further attention and intense treatment. Pain from injury can be preventable by wearing proper gear while playing sports and being careful in your environment to avoid falling. Individuals can often chalk up knee pain to a simple sprain, impacting the knee’s ligaments and recovering quickly. By taking necessary precautions, injuries can be prevented and protect the inner workings of the knee.
For those who suffer from bursitis, their pain stems from a condition that causes the bursae in the knee to become inflamed. The bursae surround the tendons and muscles near the joints in the knee. When the bursae are inflamed, it pushes against the joint, resulting in pain. With bursitis, individuals experience achy, stiff joints with possible redness, swelling, and tenderness on certain parts of the knee. Most people who develop bursitis use repetitive motions that pressure the bursae, causing the condition to progress. Repetitive motions necessary to advance development mainly include throwing or lifting heavy objects on routine, leaning onto the joints for long periods, and extensive weight being pushed into the joint. While anyone can develop bursitis, it mainly impacts the elderly or individuals with specific careers or hobbies such as labor work, professional athletes, and musicians.
Most laborers experience bursitis due to daily repetitive motion with excessive weight. Even with continuing medical advancement, there is no cure for bursitis. While it is not a common cause of knee pain, it is still prevalent in why chronic knee pain can develop. Most doctors recommend medication, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections into the bursa, and surgery to repair it. The best methods of treating flare-ups and relieving pain are using proper gear such as a weight belt when lifting heavyweight materials, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, continuously stretching to ease your joints of pressure and protect against future injury.
Inflammation is the most common reason for knee pain, which impacts all people of any age. It easily stems from injuries and medical conditions. The severity of the inflammation depends on the cause of the damage. ACL, fractures, torn meniscus, knee bursitis, arthritis, and tendonitis are common knee injuries that result from mild inflammation to severe, which causes pain. Whether it be acute or chronic inflammation, the joints are always impacted, creating patterns of stiffness, aches, and swelling to the sufferer with chronic knee pain. Some individuals often experience flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, and headaches when the body becomes inflamed. When experiencing internal impacts of inflammation, it is crucial to let the body rest and avoid any activity that will cause a flare-up to help expel the flu-like symptoms caused by the inflammation.
It is easy to treat with medications, ice packs to the knee, maintaining a healthy weight, and following an anti-inflammatory diet. Depending on the type of food, it can leave a lasting impact on the body’s joints. Certain foods are linked to inflammation, such as tomatoes, oil, fried foods, and sugar. Staying away from trigger foods such as acidic tomatoes and high fat and sugars will slowly lower the amount of built-up inflammation. Combining a healthy diet, limited exercise, rest, and over the counter medications is the best method to fighting off inflammation while relieving pain.
It is often believed pain is accompanied by injury or an internal issue. However, a factor of pain many individuals do not know is unhealthy weight. The extra pressure weight has on joints in the knees is many times the root of joint problems and development of osteoarthritis. The additional stress on weight-bearing joints to support your leg movement leads to inflammation and swelling, resulting in immobility and pain. The increase of immobility drastically changes the quality of life. When knee pain is created by extra weight, it’s essential to strengthen the joints to best support the body’s weight. Going on slow walks and transitioning into a healthier diet will boost the joint’s ability to handle the pressure and reduce the risk of developing future diseases such as arthritis or tendinitis.
Creating a routine of simple amounts of easy exercise will help improve your joints’ health, decrease inflammation, slow the progression of possible disease, and improve mobility. Quick solutions to relieve pain can also include over-the-counter medications, wearing a knee brace, or using physical assistance such as a cane or walker to alleviate some of the pressure on the joints and ligaments in the knees preventing any further damage. The most effective method would be to meet with a doctor to create a plan for physical activity strengthening joints and ligaments to best support the body’s weight.
While much of what we learned so far about pain is it stems from inflammation, there are many types of inflammation. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are all arthritis symptoms, but it is vital to identify which type the pain stems from to determine the proper treatment. The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is mainly diagnosed in adults, but in some cases, it can impact children. Osteoarthritis is the most common of the two types. It targets people fifty and older and is the most common reason for knee replacements.
The cartilage in the knee wears away and causes the bones between the joints to rub together, producing painful bone spurs and eventual osteoarthritis. It develops slowly and increases discomfort. Rheumatoid arthritis is symmetrical and targets the same joints on both sides of the body. It causes the joints to swell, and the joint then becomes stiff and immobile. Rheumatoid arthritis is prevalent than osteoarthritis due to it being an autoimmune disease where the immune system damages the normal tissue and softens the bone. It is a slow development and cushions the joint over time by wearing away at the knee’s tissue.
Both forms of arthritis make it difficult to bend or straighten the knee and are worse in the morning or after resting during non-active such as sitting or sleeping. The best way to avoid a flare-up is to limit rigorous activity, leading to pain and stretching the joints with physical therapy. Once arthritis is developed, there is no cure, but some treatments are available to remedy the pain and help with movement to prevent stiffness. Assistive devices such as shock-absorbing shoe insoles can intake much of the stress put on joints during activity, inflammatory medications to limit the pain, corticosteroid injections into the joints, and prescription medications can all be solutions to limit the damage done on the knees by arthritis. Many individuals diagnosed with arthritis seek surgery to correct their joints permanently. Consult with a doctor after diagnosis to see which treatment is best useful for your body type.
Knee pain is always treatable, and it’s vital to seek a consultation from your doctor if you experience any discomfort. Prevention will slow the advance of your pain and stop its development into something more severe than average inflammation. Receiving a diagnostic test into your pain will benefit your overall health and also give insight into what is causing your pain for proper treatment. Working with a doctor toward a treatment plan will prevent further damage to your body and avoid possible treatments such as injections or surgeries. It is also essential to take all precautions likely when first experiencing pain to improve your knee health. Whether you acquire the pain from a fall or develop a joint condition, request an appointment and go back to pain-free living.