Types Of Knee Pain: Symptoms Causes And Treatments Of Each
Many people across the world will experience knee pain at least once in their lifetime. As one of the most important and weight-bearing joints in the human body, any number of its parts can be damaged by sports activities, overuse, or simply the wear and tear of aging.
Knee pain might occur at the back of the knee, laterally, or mediallywhatever the case may be, the location of your knee pain will provide clues for not only what is wrong but how to treat the issue. Remember to always get a firm diagnosis from a trained knee care professional, like the ones at KneeCare Clinics.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pain In The Back Of The Knee
To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:
- Is the knee pain affecting one or both knees?
- Do you often feel your knees buckling?
- Where is your knee pain?
- How would you explain the cause of your knee pain?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
Possible Causes Of Pain Inside Your Knee
There are many possibilities listed here and treatments to follow. Most commonly it is diagnosed as arthritis as the most common cause of pain on the inner side of the knee, so there is a good chance that your pain is coming from the cartilage, degenerated meniscus, or muscles around the knee. However, arthritis is the end result of a myriad of issues that can affect the knees both directly and indirectly such as poor activity levels, prolonged high impact activity, injuries during sports, hypermobility, and family history.
For example, pain in your inner knee can be caused by a sudden injury like tearing a meniscus or straining a ligament while playing sports. It can be the result of an old, minor ligament injury, that prevented the joint from absorbing shock properly and wore it down faster than normal. Even injuries to other joints above and below the knee can impact inner knee pain. For example, ankle tightness or back pain can change the way you walk which in turn can cause pain on the inside of your knee over time. Genetics can also play a significant role.
Lifting heavy loads and bending in the workplace, or intense athletic activity done repetitively and at a high-level of stress can impact the knee as well. Not all stress is bad people can lose
bone mass and experience muscle atrophy if they are not active enough but if there is too much stress, your body cant recuperate fast enough and over time joints start to degenerate at a faster pace than normal.
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When To See A Doctor
You should see a doctor whenever you have knee pain thatâs constant, nagging, or severe. If thereâs swelling and you canât bend or put weight on your knee, itâs probably time to make an appointment, DiNubile says.
âIf you have knee pain — real knee pain that doesnât go away in a couple of days or a week or two — you should probably see your doctor and figure out if thereâs something going on,â Valaik says.
Not all knee pain is the same. Thatâs why itâs so important to see a doctor to diagnose it, DiNubile says.
âYou need to have a specific diagnosis, and then, depending on that diagnosis, youâll have different treatments,â he says. âThe number-one thing is to get it checked by somebody who is knowledgeable with knees. Usually, thatâs going to be an orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine specialist.â
What Treatments Can Provide Pain Relief
The nature of your injury will guide the treatment. So will your preferences. It is best to consider the full menu of options available. These include:
Physician anesthesiologists are committed to patient safety and high-quality care, and have the necessary knowledge to understand and treat the entire human body.
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Osteonecrosis Of The Knee
Osteonecrosis is a condition in which bone tissue dies due to a lack of adequate blood supply. People typically notice severe pain on the inside of the knee with tenderness and joint swelling as well as pain when bending or straightening the knee. These symptoms may cause a person to limp when walking.
Osteonecrosis in the knee is not common. It is most likely to occur after an injury, but it can also develop gradually in absence of a trauma. Older women who have osteoporosis are at the greatest risk for osteonecrosis.
Stand Up Straight To Feel Better
“When you slouch you are leaning forward and walking bent over at the waist and that posture will lead to knee pain,” says Bush-Joseph. “You want your head centered over your shoulders and your shoulders centered over your abdomen and pelvis. The more your body is off-center, the more you have to compensate for that with muscle activity. Those muscles eventually fatigue, causing strain on your joints.”
Having strong core muscles in your abdomen and lower back helps promote good posture and, ultimately, lessens the pressure on your knees. Exercises such as planks, back extensions, yoga and Pilates can help strengthen the core.
Heres how to do these exercises:
- Planks: Lie face down with your toes pointed to the floor. Put your forearms on the floor with your elbows at 90-degree angles. Tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles and lift your body off the floor. Keep your back straight and hold for 15 to 45 seconds.
- Back extensions: Lie face down with elbows bent and hands on the floor. Keeping your hips on the floor, lift your head and shoulders up with your arms. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat five to 10 times.
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Inflammation Of The Joint Lining
If you have injured the joint recently and it suddenly becomes painful again, the thin layer of tissue lining the joints and tendons may be inflamed, a condition called traumatic synovitis.
It usually does not cause any redness or heat.
You should be able to manage injury-related swelling at home with anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, an icepack and rest.
Knees And Shoulders: What Do They Have In Common
Because our knees and shoulders are both joints, they are typical sources of joint discomfort. If youre experiencing pain in both regions, you may have joint inflammation. Other issues, such as fibromyalgia, muscle strains, and more, can also be the source of your discomfort. If the discomfort persists, consult your physician for a diagnosis.
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What Can Cause Knee Pain Without Injury
Most people assume that their knee pain isnt severe or in need of medical attention because they havent suffered a significant injury. While that may be true sometimes, damage to your knee joint can also occur slowly over time, and affect you just as much as a significant accident or injury can.
First, lets stop with assumptions. Any pain you are experiencing is a sign that something is not right. So, why not have a specialist take a look? With extensive imaging, a trained orthopedic specialist can get to the bottom of your nagging knee pain and try to help relieve some of that distress. If you havent suffered an injury, however, your doctor will want to diagnose the pain and possible causes. There are some more common causes for non-trauma related knee pain:
Either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can cause leave you with severe knee pain, even without a fall or injury. Osteoarthritis can be characterized by the pain and swelling you continue to feel as you age. Your joints are not indestructible, and the structure inevitably wears down over time. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a chronic disorder that also causes joints to swell. If you suspect RA is behind your knee pain, you might have pain in other joints, as well.
What Is The Framework Of The Knee Joint
The knee is a hinge joint, which means it bends and straightens. It is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complicated joints because it allows three planes of movement: forward and back , side to side as well as circular rotation.
The knee has three bones: the femur , tibia , and patella . The knee is held together by tendons, ligaments, muscles, cartilage, and synovial fluid. This helps keep the knee stable while bearing weight.
The knee joint has four main parts or compartments separated by tough tissue called ligaments. These parts include the medial compartment of the knee, lateral compartment of knee, posterior compartment of knee, and anterior compartment of knee.
All these four parts have their own functions to perform, as shown below:
Knee pain is the most common symptom of knee injury. It can be caused by any knee injury, including knee meniscus tear, knee ligament injury, or knee arthritis.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee
It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:
- Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
- What type of arthritis do I have?
- Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- What medications should I take?
- Do I need physical therapy?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.
Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.
The Following Measures Can Be Taken To Ease The Pain At Home:
Icing with an ice pack or directly with the ice. This helps in reducing the pain and swelling. After few days of the injury or after any activity that causes knee pain, use ice, a cold gel pack, a bag of frozen vegetables on the affected areas for 15 minutes with a 1-2-hour gap in between every application. Do not directly use them, instead cover the ice or ice pack with a cloth or towel and then put it on the affected knee. To reduce the swelling, perform this remedy while keeping your leg raised above the heart level. Rest for a while and reduce the movements that may enhance the pain in the knee. Forget about squat, too much kneeling and running for some days. Do not use exercise machines like stair-steppers and rowing machines, instead go for a walk or swimming. Pain killers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may give relief in the painful condition of the knee joint.
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What Are The Complications Of Knee Pain
Frequently, knee pain will disappear without ever finding a specific cause. Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, the condition can progress and lead to more serious injuries or complications. Usually, these complications are long term and result in worsening pain or an increasing difficulty to walk.
Sudden Joint Pain Causes And How To Treat It
Many types of joint pain associated with arthritis are slow to develop and get worse over time if an effective treatment strategy is not in place. However, other types of joint pain occur unexpectedly and are a major cause of concern among people who dont normally experience painful joints.
Here is some information about sudden joint pain all over, including what it feels like, sudden joint pain causes, and how to treat the pain when it strikes without warning.
Well address the areas of the body where sudden severe joint pain is commonly felt and when it may be time to consult a doctor about the joint pain symptoms.
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What Happens If Knee Pain Is Left Untreated
If knee pain is left untreated, the knee joint can collapse. This means you could lose your ability to straighten or bend your knee.
Treatment for knee pain depends on the underlying cause. The goal of treatment is to reduce knee pain discomfort and improve knee function and strength so you can lead an active lifestyle.
Your physician might perform diagnostic tests or order imaging scans to diagnose the cause of knee pain. Imaging scans are helpful because they allow doctors to view images inside your body without surgery.
Once diagnosed, doctors typically recommend conservative treatments before considering surgical options in knee pain sufferers who dont respond to non-invasive therapies or have conditions that make surgery too risky.
Diagnosing Pain Inside The Knee
Lets say youve recently had a fall or an injury while playing sports, you can bring that information to your physician or physical therapist, and they can start to piece together what may be causing the pain. From there, a specific treatment will be suggested. Best case scenario, right? Well, its not always that simple. There are situations where youre not able to pinpoint an exact cause for the pain. Your physician or physical therapist will want to start by examining your knee and take a full history. This will help them better understand the cause of the pain youre experiencing. Certain external signs can point to specific problems. For example, swelling can cause the knee to be more flexed than normal. Your clinician will also want to determine whether there is any blockage in the joint and how your actions or other conditions affect the pain. Well look at both of these below.
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Symptoms And Signs Of Teenage Knee Pain
The location of the pain may vary depending on the underlying cause. Some children may have anterior knee pain, while others may have posterior knee pain. The following signs and symptoms can be associated with knee pain in most teens .
- Pain intensity increases over time
- Pain felt during knee flexion
- Popping sounds heard from the knee during movements
- Problems in weight-bearing on leg
- Inability to keep knees fully flexed or extended
Severe knee pain and other symptoms require pediatric consultation. Doctors may help to identify the cause of pain and treat it.
Damage To The Cartilage At The Back Of The Kneecap
Knee pain that feels worse when you go up or down stairs could be a sign of a damaged kneecap, called chondromalacia patellae.
This should not cause any redness or heat around the knee.
The cause is not understood, but it can be linked to overuse of the knee.
You can treat this problem yourself with anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, an icepack and rest.
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What Are Knee Pain Symptoms And Signs
- Chronic use/overuse conditions: osteoarthritis, chondromalacia, IT band syndrome, patellar syndromes, tendinitis, and bursitis
Below is a list of some of the more common causes of knee pain. This is not an all-inclusive list but rather highlights a few common causes of knee pain in each of the above categories.
Acute knee injuries
Fractures: A direct blow to the bony structure can cause one of the bones in the knee to break. This is usually a very obvious and painful knee injury. Most knee fractures are not only painful but will also interfere with the proper functioning of the knee or make it very painful to bear weight . All fractures need immediate medical attention. Many fractures require significant force, and a thorough examination is performed to detect other injuries.
Ligament injuries: The most common injury is the ACL injury. An ACL injury is often a sports-related injury due to a sudden stop and change in directions. The remaining ligaments are injured less frequently.
Meniscus injuries: The menisci are made of cartilage and act as shock absorbers between bones in the knee. Twisting the knee can injure the meniscus.
Dislocation: The knee joint can be dislocated, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Knee dislocation can compromise blood flow to the leg and have other related problems. This injury often occurs during a motor-vehicle accident when the knee hits the dashboard.
Causes Of Pain Behind The Knee
Pain behind the knee can be simple or difficult to diagnose, depending upon the cause. Here are some of the most common causes of posterior knee pain:
A lump-like swelling behind the knee is characteristic of Bakers cyst, making it fairly easy to diagnose. This type of cyst is also called a popliteal cyst because it is located in the popliteal fossa, a small hollow at the back of the knee.
Different forms of arthritis
Besides infection in the knee joint , posterior knee pain could result from several other infections, including:
- Infection in the bone
- Infection of one of the fluid-filled sacs called bursae
These infections have different causes and symptoms, although pain, redness, heat, and swelling are typical of most infections.
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