Knee pain can occur in anyone, irrespective of their age. It may be the result of an injury, such as a torn cartilage or ruptured ligament. Medical conditions like arthritis, gout, and other infections can also lead to knee pain.
Several types of knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Knee braces and physical therapy can also help ease knee pain.
In rare cases, your knee can require surgery.
Chronic knee pain is long-term pain, sensitivity or swelling in the knees.
The severity and location of knee pain may vary, based on its cause. Symptoms that usually come with knee pain are:
Stiffness and swelling
Warm and red knee
Instability or weakness
Crunching or popping noises
Inability to straighten the knee
Knee pain can be caused by mechanical problems, injuries, and types of arthritis.
Other factors include:
Receiving a direct hit on the knee, falling from a height or a sudden change in direction, can cause knee injuries.
Caption: Knee pain is often caused due to sports. Credits: Pixabay
It can lead to:
· Kneecap dislocation
· Fracture of the femur, tibia or kneecap
· Ligament tear
· Torn meniscus
Physical activities and accidents can put the knee under extreme strain. If the knee doesn’t heal properly, it can result in chronic pain.
Excess weight and obesity are big contributors to chronic knee pain.
Incidences of knee pain increased by 65 per cent in the United States between 1971 and 2004, according to a study published in 2011. Researchers say this is due to rising obesity levels.
Gout is a metabolic disorder. Gout causes a rise in uric acid crystals in the joints. This can lead to painful inflammation. It can also affect the knee movement.
Degenerative tissue disorders
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition of the joints. It is caused by the wear and tear of the joints over time.
Common symptoms are stiffness and pain after hours of rest. The knees can also become swollen after extended physical activity.
Osteoporosis is another common disorder. Here, the bone becomes thinner, resulting in damage to the connecting tissues and cartilage in the knee.
Bacterial infections such as cellulitis can lead to sudden knee pain. Cellulitis arises when bacteria that are generally on the skin surface, develop underneath the skin’s protective surface.
Without treatment, it can cause infection in the joints, leading to swelling, redness, stiffness and pain. It can also develop chronic knee pain over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a typical connective tissue disorder that causes knee pain. It is an auto-inflammatory condition, where the body’s immune system attacks its tissues.
In the case of knee pain, it attacks the knee tissues. Its symptoms are joint inflammation, pain, fever, fatigue, and appetite loss.
Knee Pain During Pregnancy
During the nine months of pregnancy, you will gain weight. This can exert pressure on your joints, uterus, and ligaments leading to knee pain during early pregnancy and the first trimester.
Caption: Weight gain during pregnancy can lead to knee pain. Credits: Pixabay
Other causes include:
· Hormonal changes
In the third trimester, hormones are released to loosen up the pelvic tendons and ligaments. This can cause looseness in other tendons and ligaments like the knees. This can result in knee cramps during pregnancy.
· Strain on veins
Pregnancy can increase the pressure on the veins in your legs and knees, causing knee pain.
· Excess work out
Excessive exercise during pregnancy can lead to knee pain. Exercises such as squats are beneficial during pregnancy but can also weaken the knees.
Knee pain can also be the result of an injury like a fall or strain. If you experience severe knee pain, then consult a doctor immediately as it can be a serious injury.
· Excess standing or walking
At times, knee pain can be the result of excessive standing or walking throughout the day. Your knees are made to carry the weight for extended periods that way and may develop pain.
· Calcium deficiency
Calcium deficiency in the bones makes them weak and may also lead to knee pain during pregnancy.
· Changed point of gravity
If you exercise or move a lot during pregnancy, your body changes its centre of gravity and puts the unbalanced pressure on your knees, causing pain.
Knee pains will decrease after you have delivered your baby. However, until then, here are some home remedies to ease your discomfort:
Try low impact exercises to strengthen the tissues in your knees. However, you will have to consult your doctor before you exercise during pregnancy.
Wear strong-cushioned shoes. This will absorb shock and thus protect your knees.
Sit with your feet held up, this gives quick pain relief as the weight is not on your legs.
Try a knee brace. They support your tendons and ligaments if you particularly have swollen knees during pregnancy.
Avoid overeating and gaining weight unnecessarily. It is common to put on 16 kgs during pregnancy.
Maintain a good diet and do not indulge in junk food. This will help control your weight. It is one of the best ways to avoid knee pain during pregnancy.
Take small doses of acetaminophen with your doctor’s consultation.
Massage therapy can help ease joint stiffness and pain
Use splints, especially in the feet and hands to provide relief
Treatments for knee pain vary, depending upon its cause. Some of them are:
Yur doctor may suggest injecting medications directly into your knee joint. Examples are:
Corticosteroid injections into your knee joint can help reduce the symptoms of an arthritis flare and can provide pain relief for a few months.
However, these injections aren’t effective every time.
· Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a thick fluid, like the fluid that naturally lubricates joints. It can be injected into your knee to ease pain and improve mobility.
Although there have been mixed results about the effectiveness of this method, relief from one or a series of shots can last up to six months.
· Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
PRP has a concentration of multiple different growth factors that reduces inflammation and promotes healing. PRP injections usually work better in people whose knee pain is due to sprains, tendon tears, or injury.
Caption: Arthroscopic surgery incisions in a knee joint following surgery. Credits: Commons wikimedia
If you have knee damage that may require surgery, before making a decision, look at the pros and cons of both surgical reconstruction and nonsurgical rehabilitation.
If you still require surgery, your options include:
· Arthroscopic surgery
Based on your injury type, your doctor will examine and repair your joint damage with a fibre-optic camera and long, narrow tools inserted through a few small incisions near your knee.
Arthroscopy is used to either remove or repair damaged cartilage, remove loose parts from your knee joints, and reconstruct torn ligaments.
· Partial knee replacement
Here, your surgeon supplants only the most injured portion of your knee with parts made of plastic and metal.
This surgery is usually performed through small incisions, thus you’re more likely to heal quicker than you are with total knee replacement surgery.
· Total knee replacement
Here, your surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and bone from your shinbone, thighbone, and kneecap, and replaces it with a false joint made of high-grade plastics, metal alloys, and polymers.
Yoga for Knee Pain
Several specific yoga poses can help provide relief for knee pain. People with knee pain can get relief by practising yoga a few times a week.
Yoga is often placed among the best natural knee pain relief methods, alongside massage therapy and tai chi.
Certain yoga poses like single-leg balances can improve leg strength and decrease knee adduction. While lunging and squatting postures can be stressful on the knees.
Caption: Yoga can be a gamechanger for knee pain. Credits: USAR
If you experience knee pain, it’s crucial to practice with awareness and stabilize the knees by rapidly contracting the muscles around them. It’s also beneficial to have an experienced yoga teacher to guide you.