What Causes Knee Pain?
Knee pain affects people of every age group no matter what their fitness level. Sports injuries make up a large percentage of cases, but many other knee conditions can be linked to genetics, age-related illness, accidents or occupational risk factors.
The main things knee-pain sufferers agree on are the unpleasant symptoms:
- Warmth to the touch
- Popping or crunching behind the kneecap
- Limited ability to bend/flex
- Unable to bear weight
- Visible deformity on knee or leg
Knee Conditions Affect More Than Just Bone or Joint
The most common reason for knee pain, according to the National Institutes of Health, is arthritis. More than 22 percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with arthritis, and obesity trends indicate that cases of osteoarthritis will likely increase.
Osteoarthritis in the knee breaks down cartilage inside the joint, causing damage, as the bones rub with every movement. Other arthritic conditions that target the knee can include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudo gout, and septic arthritis
Other common knee conditions include:
- ACL injury – The ligament connecting the shin to thigh bone is overstretched or torn.
- PCL injury – The posterior cruciate ligament can tear when the knee receives a blow to the front while bent.
- Collateral ligament injury – An impact from the outside of the knee can injure the MCL, while a hit to the inside of the knee can damage the lateral collateral ligament.
- Fractures – Broken bones can occur in the kneecap (patella), distal femur (thigh) or proximal tibia (shin bone).
- Torn meniscus – Cartilage pads that support the bones above and below the knee are typically torn during sports activity such as twisting, cutting, pivoting or being tackled.
- Bursitis – Fluid-filled sacs that cushion the outside of the knee joint become inflamed.
- Patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee) – Tendons linking the quadriceps thigh muscle to the shin bone are irritated or torn.
- Loose body – Sudden impact or degeneration breaks loose bits of bone or cartilage inside the knee joint.
- Iliotibial band syndrome – The tough band of tissue stretching from the outer hip to outer knee draws too tight and begins rubbing against the leg bone.
- Dislocated kneecap – The patella covering the knee slides out of place and can become unstable.
- Shin splints – Pain along the front of the shinbone (tibia) may develop after excess physical activity strains the muscles, tendons and bone tissues in this area.
- Osteochondritis dessicans – Osteonecrosis (avascular necrosis) develops when injury, obesity or disease restricts blood flow to the bone, causing bone death and severe osteoarthritis.
- Deep vein thrombosis – A blood clot forms after an injury or surgery, damaging valves in the vein and causing knee pain, swelling or leg sores.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) – Pain in the front of the knee and around the kneecap is caused by overdoing exercise or having a dislocated kneecap.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease – Young athletes who suffer stress along the upper shin bone as it grows may experience swelling and knee pain.
- Fractured tibia – When the shinbone breaks just below the knee (proximal tibia), the injury can also affect the knee joint and related soft tissues.
Find Orthopedic Knee Care
Orthopedic surgery and sports medicine have advanced greatly over the years. Thankfully, knee pain is no longer unavoidable as people age. Orthopedic specialists at Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington examine the knee using the latest in medical facilities and diagnostic imaging equipment.
Consult with a knee specialist at Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington to get started on a comprehensive treatment plan. Depending on the individual condition, doctors may discuss a wide range of knee procedures from simple physical therapy and medication to full knee joint replacement or minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.
To find an experienced orthopedic specialist to provide the best care for your knee condition, call Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington at 855-41-ORTHO for an appointment. In the case of an acute knee injury or accident, there is also an orthopedic emergency department open 24/7.