If you suffer from knee injuries or knee pain, you’re not alone. In fact, over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, with knee pain being the second-most common form of chronic pain.
If you’re suffering from knee pain, it’s important to figure out the source of the issue. Learning about the most common types of knee conditions can help you discover and learn more about the source of your pain.
Read on to learn about the most common knee conditions.
1. Arthritis of the Knee
Arthritis of the knee occurs when there’s inflammation in one or more of your knee joints. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness.
While any joint in your body can be affected by arthritis, most arthritis is concentrated in the knee. Knee arthritis can make it difficult for you to perform regular daily activities, such as walking and climbing stairs.
The most common type of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis is characterized by the progressive wearing down of the cartilage joint. As the protective cartilage wears away, the bone becomes exposed and the knee starts to swell. This can make everyday activities increasingly painful.
Another common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which can also affect the knees.
In addition to pain and swelling, those with knee arthritis will also likely experience a limited range of motion. You’ll also likely experience tenderness in your knees and a feeling that your knee is about to “give out.” Some people even experience deformity in their knee joints, such as bow legs or knobbed knees.
Knee arthritis symptoms tend to be the worst after engaging in physical activity. After sitting for long periods of time, many people also experience stiffness. For some sufferers, however, pain is consistent regardless of activity level.
Cause of Knee Arthritis
While there isn’t a single direct cause of knee arthritis, there are many factors that can put you at risk for developing the disease. Here are some of the biggest risk factors:
- Aging- those in their late 40s or older are more likely to develop knee arthritis
- Being overweight- extra weight adds more pressure to your joints
- Having suffered a previous knee injury
- Having another joint condition
- Holding a job that’s physically demanding or involves strain on the knee
- Issues with the layer of bone underneath the knee cartilage
- Having family members who suffer from arthritis
Arthritis is also more common and severe in women.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single, definitive test that can diagnose knee arthritis. To diagnose the condition, physicians will use medical imaging, conduct a physical exam, and look at your medical history. They may also perform some laboratory tests.
Physicians will also use x-rays to spot wear and tear on the joints. Usually, the goal of arthritis treatment is to provide pain relief, improve strength and mobility, and control symptoms as best as possible.
Treatment typically involves a mix of lifestyle changes, medications, and possibly surgery. For example, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight and exercise to treat your arthritis. They may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve.
Some patients also use corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain. You can learn more about these types of injections from Biolab sciences fluid flow.
Surgery is typically a last-ditch effort for arthritis pain relief. There are different surgeries available, including knee arthroscopy, knee osteotomy, and knee replacement surgery.
2. Knee Tendonitis
Knee tendonitis, also known as patellar tendonitis, occurs when there’s an injury to the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shinbone. The condition is also sometimes referred to as jumper’s knee. This is because it’s most common in athletes and those who play sports that involve jumping.
Symptoms typically involve pain in the knee area during or after intense physical activity. If left untreated, the pain will worsen over time and make it difficult for you to perform any sort of physical activity.
If you’re experiencing general knee pain, you should ice the area and temporarily avoid physical activity. If the pain doesn’t subside, then it may be time to see a doctor.
Causes and Risk Factors of Patellar Tendonitis
Repetitive stress on your patellar tendon leads to knee tendonitis. The stress on your knee results in tiny tears in your tendon. Your body attempts to repair these tears, but as they multiply, it leads to more pain, inflammation, and weakening of the tendon area.
As we mentioned earlier, engaging in strenuous physical activity can lead to patellar tendonitis. Running and jumping can be particularly stressful on your tendons due to the impact.
Tight leg muscles, muscular imbalance, and chronic illness can also put you at risk for developing patellar tendonitis.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent patellar tendonitis from occurring in the first place. The best way to prevent patellar tendonitis is to stop exercising as soon as you notice knee-related pain.
Instead, rest and ice the affected area. You should also work on strengthening the surrounding muscles, especially the thigh muscles. Also, when working out, make sure you’re using the right form. If you’re starting a new sport or type of physical activity, consider getting lessons from an instructor to prevent injury.
3. Knee Bursitis
Bursae are the small fluid-filled sacs near your knee joint. Bursae work to reduce friction on your knee joints and cushion the pressure points between your tendons and joints.
Bursitis occurs when these fluid-filled sacs become inflamed. The condition can lead to pain and limited mobility. While symptoms vary, the main symptom sufferers experience is inflammation.
Your knee may also feel tender, swollen, and warm. You may also feel pain in your knee when you move it or rest it. If you experience a sharp blow to your knee, symptoms can appear rapidly. However, in most cases, symptoms appear gradually and worsen over time.
Causes and Risk Factors of Knee Bursitis
Knee bursitis is typically caused by frequent and sustained pressure to the knee area. The condition can also be a result of overuse and strenuous activity. In some cases, bursitis is a result of a bacterial infection in the bursae.
The condition can also be a result of complications arising from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. You’re at a greater risk of developing bursitis if your normal day involves periods of prolonged kneeling. For example, carpenters, gardeners, and plumbers are more likely to suffer from knee bursitis.
Playing certain sports can also lead to bursitis. Sports that involve frequent falling – such as volleyball, wrestling, and football- will put you at greater risk.
Being overweight or suffering from arthritis can also put you at risk for developing the condition.
The best way to prevent knee bursitis is to wear kneepads if you engage in sports that involve frequent falling. If you work a job that involves kneeling for prolonged periods, remember to take frequent breaks.
You should also avoid excess squatting, as this can put increased pressure on your knees. Lastly, make sure to maintain a healthy weight.
4. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Also known as runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome is a broad term that’s used to describe pain in the front part of the knee. As the name suggests, the syndrome typically occurs in runners.
However, it’s also common in those who frequently engage in other forms of physical activity. The pain increases when you’re running or walking up the stairs. It can also increase when you sit with your knees bent for a prolonged period.
The syndrome is most often caused by overuse of the knee joints, so you should get some rest if you’ve been doing a lot of running or physical exercise. Muscle imbalances and weaknesses can also cause runner’s knee. Runner’s knee syndrome can also be a result of injury to the kneecap or surgery.
The syndrome typically affects young adults and adolescents, but it can affect the elderly population as well. Women are also more likely than men to develop this syndrome.
To prevent patellofemoral pain syndrome, you should work on strengthening your quadriceps and hip flexors. You should also engage in flexibility and strength exercises that help you align your knees.
Losing weight can also help prevent patellofemoral pain syndrome. Also, make sure to warm up and stretch before exercise.
Most Common Knee Conditions: Time to Take Better Care of Your Knees
Now that you know about the most common knee conditions, you should have a better understanding of the cause of your knee pain. If you’re still unsure of the cause, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Of course, chronic pain occurs in other areas of the body besides the knee. To learn more about chronic pain, browse our blog.