Knee pain can be an unfortunate fact of life for many people. In the majority of cases, the pain is temporary and pain relievers will alleviate it. However, in other cases, the pain becomes a chronic issue and it inhibits a person’s ability to carry out his or her daily routine and do the activities he or she loves. Chronic knee pain can be attributed to a variety of conditions. Different methods will be used to treat the pain, depending on the root cause.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
Many different physical ailments are common causes of knee pain:
- Osteoarthritis: pain caused by the joint deteriorating and degenerating. The inflammation occurs because the joint is destroying itself.
- Tendinitis: patellar pain that is located in the front of the knee. The problem is exacerbated by walking uphill or climbing stairs.
- Bursitis: another form of inflammation of the knee, which is caused by repetitive use or injuries.
- Chondromalacia patella: damage to the cartilage under the patella (kneecap)
- Gout: when built up uric acid causes arthritis.
- Baker’s Cyst: when synovial fluid (the joint’s lubrication) builds up behind the knee.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): an autoimmune disorder that is chronic and results in swollen knees. Eventually, RA can cause joints to become deformed and bones to break down.
- Dislocation: when some kind of trauma dislocates — moves out of place — the patella.
- Meniscus Tear: a break or split in the knee’s cartilage.
- Torn Ligament: The knee has four ligaments in it. The ligament that tears most often is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
- Bone Tumors: Osteosarcoma is a common form of bone cancer, and it occurs most often in the knee.
Knee Pain Prevention
Some injuries are completely unavoidable. However, you can prevent others. Here’s what you can do to reduce the common causes of knee pain and make them less of a risk:
- If you’re involved in physical activity and your knee starts to hurt, stop immediately. Mild joint pain that can be easily treated can quickly become much worse.
- Intense workouts can be a great way to get in — and stay in — shape. Always increase the intensity gradually to avoid a sudden shock to your system.
- Remember to warm up properly and stretch before you exercise.
- If you spend a lot of time on your knees or kneeling, be sure to use kneepads. Otherwise, bursitis can occur and keep you from performing like you should.
- Supportive, properly fitting shoes are key to knee pain prevention.
- The knee flexors — thigh muscles — should be kept strong and flexible with regular exercise and stretching.
- Being overweight puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your joints. If you’re carrying extra weight, work to shed it so you can take some of that pressure off of your knees.
Treatments and Pain Management
Depending on the particular cause of your knee pain, one or more of several different treatments will be administered by a medical professional:
- Chiropractic Care and Joint Manipulation: Usually, chiropractic starts with an examination to determine what areas are affected, and the chiropractor will design a plan of treatment from there.
- Exercises for Rehabilitation: Your medical professional will guide you through stretches and strengthening exercises to take some of the pressure off your knees.
- Myofascial release: When a patient experiences knee pain because of an acute injury, he or she may respond well to massage. Myofascial release restores joint mobility by breaking down scar tissue.
- Changes to Diet and Lifestyle: A medical professional will recommend nutritional changes and ways to move your body to help relieve pain and return you to a state where you can perform everyday activities.
Using the above prevention and treatment suggestions can help keep you pain-free for years to come. However, some injuries are too severe for diet and lifestyle modification or chiropractic care to be effective. For instance, if you shatter your patella in a car accident, you may need a knee replacement. No matter the cause or severity of your pain, a qualified medical professional will guide you through his or her recommended treatment plan to get you back to your best life. You’ve only got two knees, and keeping them healthy will help keep you happy.