Knee Pain

What is Knee Pain?

Patellofemoral pain (knee pain) is the medical term used to describe pain that occurs at the front of the knee, around the kneecap (patella), without signs of any damage or other problems in the knee joint.  It is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellofemoral syndrome, or anterior knee pain.

Causes

Knee pain can be caused by injuries, mechanical problems, forms of arthritis, tendonitis, torn ligaments or tendons, menisci or cartilage damage, bleeding in the joint, gout, bursitis, and other problems that occur while running, cycling, going up and down stairs, and squatting. Injury to the knee can increase pressure to the kneecap (patella) and the lower part of the thigh bone (femur). It often happens during adolescence and affects more young women than young men.

What are the Symptoms of Knee Pain?

Swelling and stiffness, popping or crunching noises, redness and warmth to the touch, instability or weakness, limping due to discomfort, and inability to fully straighten the knee.

Knee Pain Causes

Knee pain may be caused by medical conditions, injuries, or types of arthritis.

Injuries

  • Fractures, which are caused by falls, vehicle accidents, or aggressive blows to the knee
  • ACL injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, which is often a consequence to athletes who make sudden directional turns as they play various sports, such as football, soccer, or basketball
  • Knee bursitis is caused when injury to the knee causes inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that protect the knee
  • Torn meniscus is often the result of a twisted knee, which tears the cartilage (meniscus) between the thighbone and shinbone
  • Patellar tendinitis occurs when the patellar tendon that connects the quadriceps muscle of the thigh to the shinbone becomes inflamed

Mechanical Problems

  • Dislocated kneecap occurs when the patella at the front of the knee displaces
  • Hip or foot pain may cause you to compensate with a different way of walking, which places stress on the kneecap
  • Loose body, when a bone fragment or piece of cartilage becomes detached, may lodge in the knee
  • Iliotibial band syndrome causes pain when the iliotibial band tightens and rubs against the femur

Arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis is the condition of deteriorating knee cartilage
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect the knee
  • Gout may affect the knee when uric acid crystals collect in the knee joint
  • Pseudogout is the build-up of calcium-containing crystals in the joint fluid around the knee
  • Septic arthritis in the knee joint is a result of infection

How is Knee Pain Treated?

Treatment includes avoiding strenuous use of the knee until the pain lessens, painkillers such as paracetamol, anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen, physiotherapy which involves strengthening the muscles around the knee and hip in order to ease stress on the knee, and taping of the kneecap (patella) which involves applying adhesive tape over the patella to alter the way it moves. Injecting corticosteroids and lubricants directly into the knee might also help in certain instances.

Knee Pain Prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active are keys to preventing some knee pain. Performing an exercise routine, which includes flexibility exercises and balance training, and doing stretching and warm-up exercises prior to exercising or participating in sports is also a preventive measure to avoid injury. Promote good posture by doing exercises that strengthen core muscles. Wearing appropriate and properly fitted shoes with cushioned soles helps absorb the impact to the knees. Athletes should wear protective gear, including knee pads or wraps. Runners should run on soft surfaces, such as grass, instead of concrete or asphalt. Lift properly, especially heavy objects, without placing undue stress on the knees.