Understanding & Treating Knee Pain

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Our bodies endure a great deal of stress and strain from daily activities, exercises and sports. However, repetitive activities can and often will cause our muscles, ligaments and cartilages to wear down. Many knee injuries are due to ligament and cartilage damage.

If you experience swelling and stiffness, weakness or instability of your knee,  crunching or popping noises or cannot extend your knee completely, it’s important to get it checked out by your doctor. If there’s serious damage and you first visited your primary doctor,  they’ll send you to a consultant or specialist like an orthopedic specialist, orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist for further examination.

Common Knee Injuries

If you are experiencing knee pain, there are several common knee injuries that could be the culprit of your discomfort, including:

  • Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that often affects the knees. Some common symptoms are constant pain and inflammation and popping or crunching noises in the joints.
  • Bursitis occurs when muscles, tendons and cartilages are damaged due to repetitive movement. Some common symptoms include swelling and stiffness or the inability to fully extend the knee.
  • Chondromalacia patella is a condition where the knee cartilage has deteriorated. Some common symptoms can include stiffness and swelling, along with not being able to straighten your knee fully.
  • Dislocation of the knee often happens during the break of the bone. A range of symptoms can result from this injury including redness and warmth to the touch.
  • Torn ligament, also known as an anterior cruciate ligament or ACL, is common among athletes but can happen to anyone. It usually involves a tear to one of the ligaments in the knee. Some common symptoms include swelling and stiffness, pain and weakness or instability. It can also lead to osteoarthritis.
  • Gout is often associated with arthritis and is more common among those who have an arthritic condition. It’s caused by acid buildup in the knee. Common symptoms include swelling and stiffness, redness and warmth to the touch and weakness and instability in the knee.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a very common chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that affects millions of people. Sometimes the disorder comes about from aged muscles, tendons, etc. It can also come about from repetitive movement or injuries to the knee. Painful swelling is often associated with it, along with deformity of the joint and bone deterioration.
  • Tendinitis involves the painful occurrence of the knee due to swelling of the tendon. It causes the knee to stiffen which makes it difficult to do everyday activities like walking or simply moving around.

Knee Pain Treatment Options

Depending on the type of knee injury you’re experiencing, treatment will differ. Some treatments include:

Medications/Injections

One of the most popular ways to deal with knee pain and injuries is with prescribed medicines from your doctor. Injections with certain medications, such as corticosteroids, Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and hyaluronic acid may also be used.

Therapy

Although it may hurt to move your knee, one of the best ways to alleviate the pain is to strengthen the knee. Therapy helps strengthen your knee to make it stable. Appropriate exercises at the right pace and intensity can help strengthen your knee and improve your balance. Braces can help stabilize, support and protect the knee.

Surgery

Surgery is often the last option unless the knee is broken. It can include surgical reconstruction or a total knee replacement (TKR)

Types of Doctors to Treat Knee Pain

Depending on the type of knee injury you’ve sustained, there are many specialized doctors, from a primary care provider for tendinitis to a sports medicine specialist for an ACL injury to an orthopedic specialist surgeon for gout or arthritis.

If you think you have any of the above knee injuries, be sure to contact the appropriate doctor.

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