Common Causes of Knee Pain and How to Treat Them

In the United States alone, knee pain causes one third of emergency room and doctor visits each year. It's a major issue for athletes as well. Over half of the athletic population endures knee pain on a yearly basis.

There are many reasons why people experience knee pain. The most common causes are swollen or torn ligaments, torn cartilage, or runner's knee. However, with the complexity of this joint coupled with the sheer number of issues that can happen to the knee creates quite an exhaustive list of knee pain problems. Just to name a few others, they are:

  • Knee snapping or popping. This occurrence happens within the knee itself, and is actually quite common. These sounds can happen with no pain at all, and in these cases are not reasons for worry. However, should pain accompany these sounds, it is usually an indication of a ligament being torn
  • A sense of grinding can most often be an association with two bones rubbing against one another when the cartilage has worn away. This is often the case with arthritis patients. If this scenario happens in patients under the age of 50, it is usually because of a severe injury at some point in the patient's past.
  • Locking of the knee is something that occurs with normal straightening or bending of the knee. If a piece of cartilage becomes stuck within the joint, the locking of knee motion can occur, preventing the patient from moving the knee. Another aspect that could prevent the patient from moving their knee is the sheer amount of pain it causes them to do so. These two situations need to be evaluated in a timely manner, often by the injection of a numbing agent to assist in determining the exact cause of this locking action.
  • Instability or the feeling of your knee possibly giving out from you is a common symptom of ligament injury. This results from the ligaments that connect the thigh to the shin being either stretched or torn.
  • Swelling of the knee is a common occurrence with several of the different knee ailments. If swelling occurs immediately after an injury (immediately being within an hour), it is likely there has been damage to either the anterior cruciate ligament or a serious fracture to the top of the shin. If swelling is gradual over several hours to days, it's more likely to be sprained ligament or torn cartilage.
A skilled practitioner is often able to detect the type of injury to the knee before needing to send the patient for tests such as MRIs and x-rays. These are used to detect and specific issue, however most times a thorough examination of the knee can result in a proper diagnosis and treatments options.

Knee Pain Treatments

For treatment of knee injuries and pain, there are various forms of treatment your physician may choose. They could decide on braces and/or supports to either supply compensation to the injured joint or as support for weakened muscles.

Rehabilitation and therapy may be recommended in some cases as a primary treatment, or in others as a secondary treatment as a follow-up to surgery.

Medications in pill or capsule form may be prescribed to assist with pain. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could be Motrin, Aleve, Naprosyn or Celebrex to name a few. Surgery on the knee is normally done when there is no positive response to the other non-surgical options, but occasionally it will be the first choice depending on the situation.



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