A Guide to Chronic Knee Pain
Your knee joint is one of the complex joints in your body. Its primary purpose is to perform certain functions like bending, straightening, and bearing most of the weight of your body. The knee is more than a simple coupled joint which also allows twisting and rotating. In order to accomplish all of these activities, your knee depends on bones, ligaments, tendons, meniscus and cartilage.
Cartilage – a slippery substance relies on the ends of your knee bones. It helps in a smooth movement when the bones in your joint rub over one another when your leg bends and straightens.
Meniscus – It acts as cushions between the joints and works like shock absorbers.
Ligaments – They help to hold your knee bones together and provide stability.
Tendons – These are connective tissues that connect your muscles in the bones in your knee.
All these elements should work together for proper knee functioning. If the elements don’t work correctly either due to trauma or a medical condition, it results in pain, inflammation, and other symptoms.
What Is Chronic Knee Pain?
Knee pain is one of the common problems which affects people of all ages. Chronic means a long-lasting condition, if the knee pain persists for long-term, it termed as chronic knee pain. It occurs due to several reasons such as injury, to your knee parts, a ruptured ligament or a torn cartilage etc. Some medical conditions like arthritis, gout and other infections can also cause knee pain.
Causes Of Knee Pain?
Chronic knee pain is temporary in most of the people. Rarely it goes away even without treatment. However, it is not always caused due to one incident. Here are the most common causes or conditions of the knee pain.
Knee Pain Due To Trauma
An injury to your knee might happen when your fall from a height, a direct blow to your knee in accidents, changing your direction suddenly, or repetitive movements while playing sports can cause traumatic knee injuries.
These above conditions can lead to:
- Dislocated kneecap
- Fracture to your kneecap, femur, or tibia
- Torn ligaments
- Damaged tendons
- Meniscal tears
These injuries can put your knees under extreme stress. If the injury doesn’t heal properly, it leads to chronic knee pain.
Knee pain Due To Medical Conditions
- Osteoarthritis: It is a degenerative tissue disorder that causes pain, inflammation, and joint damage.
- Tendinitis: it is an inflammatory condition of the tendon that causes pain, particularly while climbing heights.
- Bursitis: it is also an inflammatory condition caused due to overuse or injury to the knee.
- Chondromalacia patella: It is one of the most prevalent causes of chronic knee pain due to degeneration of cartilage or damaged cartilage under your kneecap.
- Gout: it is a type of arthritis caused as a result of uric acid buildup in your joints.
- Baker’s cyst: Accumulation of fluid cysts (synovial fluid) behind your knee causes swelling or a bulge and pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): It is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder which causes painful swelling and joint deformity.
- Bone tumours: Osteosarcoma one of the most prevalent bone cancers that commonly happens in the knee.
- Bacterial infections – like cellulitis, can generate sudden knee pain. Untreated cellulitis results in chronic knee pain.
- Obesity: Excess weight exerts more strain on your knees which results in pain and inflammation.
Bad posture while doing physical activities, not warming up before or after physical activity, increasing age, consumption of alcohol and smoking puts you at more risk of chronic knee pain with certain health conditions.
Treatment For Chronic Knee pain
The treatment for chronic knee pain depends on the underlying cause of knee pain. It will have a specific type of treatment which include:
- Physical therapy
Medication is prescribed to provide relief pain and to treat the underlying health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Physical therapy and medication to improve your knee functions and prevent future injuries are the first-line of treatment options for chronic knee pain. The main aim of therapies is to strengthen your muscles surrounding your knee. Based on your condition, a knee specialist doctor recommends either physical therapy or different forms of strengthening exercises or both.
If there is no improvement in reducing pain, your knee specialist might suggest some other treatment options.
If medications and therapies don’t show any impact in reducing pain or in some cases, an orthopaedic doctor suggests injecting medicine directly into your joint.
These are called minimally invasive techniques, and it includes corticosteroid injections (helps to reduce inflammation) and hyaluronic acid injections (to help cushion and lubricate your joints within the knee). Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) – a blend of growth factors which helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
If conservative treatments don’t show any improvement within six months regarding patient condition, surgery might become an option. Considering all pros and cons if surgery is necessary, your options might include:
Arthroscopic surgery – Used to eliminate loose bodies in your knee joint, repair of damaged cartilage or to reconstruct torn ligaments.
Partial knee replacement surgery – Removing and replacing only the damaged parts of your knee with artificial parts made of plastic or metal called prosthetics.
Total knee replacement – The procedure involves removing the entire knee joint(damaged bone, cartilage, shinbone and kneecap), and replaces it with prosthetics of metal, high-grade plastics and polymers.
There are some other home remedies which can provide you temporary relief from knee pain like rest, ice packs., heat pack, compression and elevation of your knee joint. However, any type of knee pain can be treated effectively. For more details or having a problematic knee that makes your daily activities difficult, consult Dr, Ajay Tiwari, one of the best knee pain specialists in Hyderabad. He has more than ten years of experience in treating various knee conditions and has performed hundreds of knee surgeries.