A Womans Aching Knees
The knee is formed by the femur , the tibia and the patella . It is essentially a hinge joint that is held in place by the medial collateral , lateral collateral , anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments .
Most of us have heard that women athletes are more prone to suffering from a traumatic knee injury. But what most people dont know is that you dont have to be a weekend warrior to end up with a serious knee problem. Each year, roughly 10 million women see their doctors for knee pain, often caused by activities that are not related to sports, such as lifting boxes, going up a flight of stairs or squatting too much while gardening.
Why are women winding up with more knee injuries? Researchers suspect one of the most likely causes is the way women are built. Women tend to have wider hips and are slightly knock-kneed and this alignment can create added stress on the joints. Another cause could be traced to a womans muscles. More often, women tend to use their leg muscles differently than men.
Here are some common knee problems women encounter and tips from UCSF orthopedic surgeons and knee specialists on how to prevent them:
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What Are The Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Sustaining an injury is by far the most common and often unavoidable reason for experiencing knee pain and swelling.
A meniscus tear is a typical knee injury, particularly for athletes or people who play contact sports. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions your femur and tibia . There are two in each knee joint.
Whether your injury is a sprain, torn ligament or menisci, dislocation or broken bone, youll usually get some fairly instant knee pain, swelling and tenderness. And the knee pain will be more intense depending on how badly youre injured, explains Dr Rhianna McClymont.
Underlying conditions usually cause knee pain to come on more gradually instead. While this list is by no means exhaustive, GPs tend to see the following conditions causing chronic knee pain.
Understanding That Getting Rid Of Chronic Knee Swelling Is A Matter Of Addressing The Problem Of Degenerative Knee Disease
Did the inflammation cause the swelling or did the swelling cause the inflammation? This is not a trick on words or some cute wordplay. Medical researchers in China teamed with doctors at Rush University Medical Center and Drexel University to publish a January 2020 study in which they suggest that synovitis, or inflammation of the knees synovial membrane, precedes and is associated with osteoarthritis. What the researchers suggest is that when you have a chronic or acute knee injury, enough to cause chronic or acute inflammation, osteoarthritis progression begins spontaneously. What does that mean? You twist your knee. Your knee swells. Osteoarthritis is occurring right before your eyes. The swelling needs to be addressed.
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Surgical And Other Procedures
Treating the underlying cause of a swollen knee might require:
- Arthrocentesis. Removing fluid from the knee can help relieve pressure on the joint. After aspirating joint fluid, your doctor might inject a corticosteroid into the joint to treat inflammation.
- Arthroscopy. A lighted tube is inserted through a small incision into your knee joint. Tools attached to the arthroscope can remove loose tissue or repair damage in your knee.
- Joint replacement. If bearing weight on your knee joint becomes intolerable, you might need knee replacement surgery.
Your doctor might also recommend physical therapy to improve your knee’s function and strength.
What Is The Treatment For Swelling Above Knee
Swelling above the knee can sometimes be a medical emergency when caused by fracture, dislocation or infection of knee joint. Most of the times injury or damage caused to the soft tissues around the knee joint need proper rest to promote healing. Injuries to the knee joint and soft tissues generally take time to heal and need immobilization.
The conservative treatment most often advised for swollen knee is a formula of RICE therapy. Anti-inflammatories and pain-killers can help. Arthritis and joint related conditions may require additional treatment.
Fluid aspiration may be performed if swelling above the knee is severe and not infected. It gives relief in pain following reduction in size of knee swelling. The fluid after aspiration is sent for lab studies and used as a diagnostic tool to detect the exact cause of inflammation. Depending on the fluid examination, further treatment may be planned. Knee joint infections is treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Autoimmune disease and joint inflammation is treated with corticosteroid treatment. Calcium and vitamin D supplements may be given, if found appropriate.
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If You Have A Lot Of Swelling Hyaluronic Acid Is Really Not Going To Help
You have a lot of swelling and pressure in your knee because you have too much water on the knee or in reality too much synovial fluid. That is a simple explanation. Many people find relief when this fluid is drained. So will people find relief if more fluid is added? It seems counterproductive for knee pain relief. This is why there is a debate over the long-term effectiveness of hyaluronic acid injections for knee osteoarthritis. We are only going to present one study here, please see our article: Research and reviews of Hyaluronic injections for Knee Osteoarthritis for more on this topic.
Getting back to the question above does injecting hyaluronic acid, putting more synovial type fluid in your knee, work when you already have an overabundance of this fluid? For some, the answer is yes it helps. For others, it does not help.
A January 2021 study in the medical journal Rheumatology explains it. What the researchers in this study set out to do was to determine whether ultrasound-detected synovitis affects the therapeutic efficacy of hyaluronic acid injection for treating knee osteoarthritis.
- The 137 patients in this study received hyaluronic acid injection two times at 2-week intervals.
- Initially, all the patients were helped. However, the patients who had ultrasound detected suprapatellar effusion had greatly reduced benefits from the injections.
Know The Cause Find The Right Treatment
There are numerous reasons for hip and knee pain, and finding the right treatment depends on discovering the root cause. Be especially mindful of swelling, redness, and warmth at the site. If pain continues during the night, see an orthopedist at Greater Rochester Orthopaedic in Rochester, NY as soon as possible.
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Why Does The Knee Swell
A swollen knee is a common problem that affects people of all ages. Knee swelling typically indicates a problem somewhere inside the knee joint.
The knee has a joint capsule, which is like a sac that surrounds the whole joint. The capsule contains synovial fluid which nourishes and lubricates the joint so that it can move smoothly, think of it like the oil in your car. The joint capsule acts as container, keeping the fluid within the knee joint.
A swollen knee usually develops when excess fluid builds up inside the joint capsule and is caused by either:
- Bleeding in the Joint: aka Haemarthrosis. This is normally caused by an injury and the knee swelling comes on rapidly . The swelling can be intense making the knee feel very tight.
- Accumulation of Synovial Fluid: aka knee joint effusion or water on the knee. This type of swollen knee tends to come on gradually and may come and go, varying in degrees of severity.
Usually, knee swelling remains inside the knee joint as the joint capsule acts like a barrier, preventing the fluid from escaping. However, it can also occur outside the joint capsule, known as extra-articular swelling, such as with knee bursitis.
An Infection Could Be Lurking
Perhaps the most dire cause of knee swelling, infection in the knee joint warrants a hasty trip to the doctor. When an infection gets into the knee joint, the knee quickly becomes really swollen, red, and hot, says Dr. Gladstone. If untreated, infection can affect the whole body, causing fevers and body shakes.
Though a poorly-cleaned gash on the knee can lead to infection, infections elsewhere in the body can make their way through the bloodstream and into joints, Dr. Gladstone explains.
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Leg Pain: Arthritis Or Peripheral Artery Disease
If you suffer from leg pain while walking, you may blame arthritis. But if the problem is peripheral artery disease , it can have serious consequences.
When fatty depositsâcalled plaqueâaccumulate in your bodys arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. In PAD, these fatty deposits build up in the arteries that carry blood to your legs.
Untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and even leg amputation. Its also a warning sign that arteries in the heart and brain may be blocked, increasing your chances for heart attack and stroke.
Signs of PAD
PAD starts slowly and may go unnoticed. Discomfort can occur in the affected legs, thighs, calves, hips, buttocks, or feet. In addition to pain, other common sensations are heaviness, numbness, or aching in the leg muscles. Rest usually helps. Other symptoms include:
- Pale or bluish skin
- Lack of leg hair or toenail growth
- Sores on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly or not at all
See your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. PAD can be diagnosed with a simple test that measures blood flow by comparing blood pressure in your arms and legs.
Arthritis Affects Joints
Because PAD is such a serious and progressive disease, its important to know the difference between arthritis pain and symptoms that indicate blocked blood flow.
If joint pain lasts beyond three days, see a health care provider. Also get medical attention for:
What Causes Knee Pain Without Injury
Sometimes the cause of your knee pain is obvious: a twist, misstep or strain can strike at any time during a walk or a run. Other times, patients can suffer knee pain without injury and are unsure of the source of their discomfort.
Youll need to consult with a physician to determine the cause of your knee pain, but there are several common causes of knee pain without injury.
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What Is The Knee Joint
Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include the:
- Thighbone .
- Shinbone .
- Kneecap .
A smooth substance called cartilage covers the ends of each bone. Its a cushion between the bones that keeps them from rubbing together. The synovial membrane, a type of tissue that surrounds the joint, lubricates the cartilage.
Arthritis of the knee causes pain and swelling in the joint
The Anatomy Of The Knee Joint
The large femur sits atop the tibia, much like two pillars stacked on top of each other. The smaller fibula bone is on the outside of the tibia in the lower leg. The fibula provides some weight bearing, but not nearly as much as the tibia does. At the end of the femur are two large condyles with rounded edges that allow for the rocking or hinging motion associated with knee movement.
In between the femur and the tibia are fibrocartilage shock absorbers, or meniscus. Several large stabilizing ligaments on the inside and outside of the knee prevent excessive forward and backwards movements. These stabilizing ligaments include the Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Posterior Cruciate Ligament .
The patella bone sits in front of the femur and slides in a groove. The backside of the patella is covered with hyaline cartilage along with the front side of the groove on the femur, which minimizes the friction as the patella slides. The patella is a large sesamoid bone, which means it is surrounded in muscle or tendon. Sesamoid bones act as a pulley system to change the direction of forces, in this case from the quadriceps muscle to the tibia.
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Causes Of Pain In Many Joints
In most cases, the cause of pain originating inside multiple joints is arthritis. Disorders that cause arthritis may differ from each other in certain tendencies, such as the following:
How many and which joints they usually involve
Whether the central part of the skeleton, such as the spine or pelvis, is typically involved
Whether arthritis is sudden or longstanding
Acute arthritis affecting multiple joints is most often due to
or psoriatic arthritis Psoriatic Arthritis Psoriatic arthritis is a spondyloarthritis and a form of joint inflammation that occurs in some people who have psoriasis of the skin or nails. Joint inflammation can develop in people who have read more )
Chronic arthritis affecting multiple joints is most often due to
Some chronic inflammatory disorders can affect the spine as well as the limb joints . Some affect certain parts of the spine more frequently. For example, ankylosing spondylitis more commonly affects the lower part of the spine, whereas rheumatoid arthritis more typically affects the upper part of the spine in the neck.
The most common disorders outside the joints that cause pain around the joints are
Bursitis and tendinitis often result from injury, usually affecting only one joint. However, certain disorders cause bursitis or tendinitis in many joints.
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Bursitis Could Be To Blame
Often confused with arthritis, bursitis is another condition that can cause swollen knees. Bursitis is a reaction in which sacks of fluids, blood vessels, and nerve endings that cushion your jointscalled bursaebecome inflamed, explains Dr. Gladstone. Typically, bursitis occurs across the front of the knees as a result of excess pressure and friction on the joint over time.
Those little blood vessels bleed and the bursa produces excess fluid, which creates this giant, swollen pouchlike a bubble of fluid just below the skin, Dr. Gladstone says. These inflamed pouches, which can take on all sorts of shapes and sizes, can be incredibly painful to put pressure on.
Bursitis is most common in people who work a lot on their knees, like carpenters, plumbers, and tile-setters, says Dr. Gladstone. However, a good fall can cause bursitis, too.
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What Are The Stages Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are five stages of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that affects your knees:
- Stage 0 . If youre at stage 0, your knees are healthy. You dont have arthritis of the knee.
- Stage 1 . Stage 1 means that youve got some wear and tear in your knee joint. You probably wont notice pain.
- Stage 2 . The mild stage is when you might start to feel pain and stiffness, but theres still enough cartilage to keep the bones from actually touching.
- Stage 3 . If youre at the moderate stage, youll have more pain, especially when running, walking, squatting, and kneeling. Youll likely notice it after long periods of rest . You’re probably in a great deal of pain because the cartilage has narrowed even further and there are many bone spurs.
- Stage 4 . Severe osteoarthritis means that the cartilage is almost gone. Your knee is stiff, painful and possibly immobile. You might need surgery.
What About A Petallar Tracking Problem
The patella is the kneecap. Women are more likely than men to experience a tracking issue with the patella, which can lead to pain, a feeling of fullness in the knee, and swelling.
But sometimes there may only be the funny feeling and the swelling.
Dr. Charles explains, In over 33 years in practice, predominantly a sports injury practice, I have found that most patella tracking problems occur due to a rotated tibia bone which alters the movement of the patella.
Turning your leg and foot outwards when exercising, especially during leg extensions or lunges, are a common cause.
It can also be due to a weakness of the medial quadricep muscle, relative to the outer quadriceps.
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Injury To The Ligaments
A tear of the anterior cruciate ligament happens suddenly, during a football game, for example. It is possible to hear a loud crack at the moment of the rupture, which helps in the accurate diagnosis. The feeling that the knee is swollen or popping is also common.
- What to do: You should go to the orthopedic doctor because tests are needed to assess the level of ligament rupture, and to assess the possibility of physical therapy and/or surgery. See more at: Knee Ligament Injury.
What Can Cause Swelling Above Knee & What Is Its Treatment
Swelling above knee is a fairly common condition and observed when knee joint or the soft tissues surrounding knee joint is inflamed or injured. Swelling above or over the knee joint is a condition often observed following the knee joint disease. It is sometimes also referred to as water on the knee.
Joints are junctions at which two bones meet with the help of soft tissues or surrounding structures. Swelling above knee indicates accumulation of fluid around the knee joint. Synovial fluid is normally present in the knee joint for lubrication, protection and nutrition of the cells in the joint.1 However, excessive accumulation of fluid in the knee joint causing knee swelling may mean some disturbance in the normal structure and functioning.
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When To See The Doctor
Sure, its tempting to use an online knee pain symptom checker to try to figure out whats causing your pain. The problem is, because joints are complex, knee pain self-diagnosis is very difficult. Like all your joints, your knees are designed to function without pain or stiffness. No amount of pain or stiffness is normal.If you notice any type of discomfort in or around your knee joint, its always a good idea to schedule an office visit with Dr. Van Thiel.
As a leading orthopedic surgeon in Rockford and Crystal Lake, Dr. Van Thiel uses advanced diagnostic methods to make sure you receive the best, most appropriate care for meaningful pain relief. To find out whats causing your knee pain, call OrthoIllinois at 398-9491 or schedule an appointment online today.
Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, Beloit and Algonquin.