The Causes of Knee Pain
Why Do You Have Knee Pain?
If you’ve ever had knee pain, you know it can be quite painful indeed and interfere with a great many day-to-day activities to boot. It’s very limiting if you can’t even get up out of a chair and move around without distress.
Naturally a knee pain sufferer wants to get rid of the pain as soon as possible, and the first step is often to pin down the cause. On the most superficial level, this may be easy enough. If you took a fall and banged your knee, that was likely the beginning (although knowing that won’t necessarily tell you whether you just have a bruise or an MCL tear.)
The knee is a complicated part of the body made up of bone, muscle, ligaments, and fluid, and a problem with any one of these elements can result in pain. The abundance of names we have for various kinds of knee pain—runner’s knee, bursitis knee, tendonitis, etc.—suggests the many possible reasons you may be having a problem.
To provide you with some basic understanding, here are some common causes for knee pain.
Types of Knee Pain and Their Causes
Essentially, there are two main sources of knee pain, injury and disease.
Knee Pain from Injury
Common injuries resulting in knee pain include falls, car crashes, collisions while playing sports, and similar mishaps.
Knee Pain from Disease
The most common disease that produces knee pain is arthritis. Arthritis, however, is actually a whole constellation of diseases, not just one, that have in common deterioration inside one or more joints. There are three kinds that are likely to attack the knee.
Of these, osteoarthritis is the most common. It typically afflicts people who are middle-aged or seniors.
In contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune illness that can occur in individuals of any age.
Post-traumatic arthritis arises after someone sustains a knee injury.
Symptoms of Arthritic Knee Pain
If you knee pain feels like this, it may well be coming from arthritis:
- You have swelling, tenderness, or inflammation even after a period of little activity.
- You have a limited range of motion. Movement that was easy before has become difficult.
- You hear popping, cracking, or grinding sounds in your knee. (These are likely the result of a loss of cartilage.)
- Because it’s weaker than it should be, the knee buckles and locks.
- Knee pain flares up over time, sometimes due to heightened activity but also when you haven’t been active, and sometimes when the weather changes.
Knee Pain When the Parts Don’t Fit Together Properly
Patellofemoral dysfunction is a condition in which the kneecap sits too high on the knee. It can be a congenital condition or can arise from osteoarthritis.
Knee Pain at Night
You may experience knee pain at night if you overused the knee during the day even if you stopped the overexertion hours before. Inflammation has set in gradually, and that sudden, unexpected attack of knee pain is the result.
Preventing Knee Pain
You may be able to avoid knee pain by two means: limiting stress on the knee and strengthening the knee.
You can limit the amount of stress you put on your knees by lessening the impacts they sustain, avoiding the stairs, and best of all, perhaps, by losing excess weight. The latter, of course, has many other health benefits as well.
You can strengthen your knees with exercises like cycling or water exercise.
Is Your Knee Pain Serious?
It might be if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- The knee’s red or swollen.
- The knee pain began after an obvious injury like a fall.
- There’s pain when you stretch your leg, for example, sharp pain behind the knee.
- You have knee pain, tenderness, or swelling after you’ve sat for a while.
- You have knee pain, tenderness, or swelling when climbing stairs or engaged in a comparable activity.
- The knee joint grinds or locks even when it doesn’t hurt.
Beyond these considerations, if your knee simply seems to hurt frequently, and you’re tired of it, that’s reason enough to consult a doctor. Ultimately, it takes a physician to determine exactly why you’re having knee pain and the proper intervention to make it go away.