Common Knee Pain Causes And Treatment
The knee is a vulnerable ‘hinge’ type of joint that bears a great deal of stress from our everyday activities like lifting, kneeling, jogging and sports. It allows the leg to bend and straighten (flex and extend). Of all the joints in the body, the knee is at the greatest risk of injury, age-related damage, inflammatory and infection-related arthritis and therefore is a cause for many people contacting pain management clinics in Singapore.
The knee joint includes the following parts:
- Tibia: which is the shin bone
- Femur: also known as the thigh bone.
- Patella: or the kneecap.
- Muscles, ligaments and tendons: which holds the joint together, facilities movements and strengthens it.
Knee join pain relief can be done by multiple ways like medications, physical therapy, braces or other strengthening exercises and surgery. Several pain management clinics in Singapore can be found today that use non-invasive techniques like dietary corrections, manual therapy, massage, ultrasound, shockwaves, stretches and exercises for pain relief.
What Are Some Common Knee Problems That Cause Knee Pain?
Knee pain is commonly a result of the aging process and continual wear and stress on the knee joint. Other knee problems are a result of an injury, like a torn cartilage or a ruptured ligament or a sudden movement that strains the knee. Knee pain can also be due to infections, arthritis and gout. They usually present with symptoms of knee joint pain, stiffness, swelling and difficulty in bearing weight.
Common problems of the knee joint include:
- Strained or sprained muscles/ligaments: Mainly the quadriceps muscles (front of the thigh) and the hamstring muscles (back of the thigh) that act on the knee joint are susceptible to strain or ‘pulled muscles’. Such strains occur most often in sports like basketball, softball, soccer and in routine fitness activities like jogging. A sprained or strained knee ligament, especially to the collaterals and cruciate ligaments, is usually caused by a blow to the knee or a sudden twist of the knee.
- Torn Meniscus: The meniscus is a special ‘shock absorber’ cartilage located in the knee joint. It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight or due to age-related degeneration.
- Fractures: The bones of the knee, like patella, can be broken during falls or accidents.
- Patellar tendinopathy: Also called patellar tendonitis or ‘Jumper’s knee’, causes irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons of the knee joint. This inflammation can happen when there’s an injury to the patellar tendon which allows you to kick, run and jump. Runners, skiers, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities are more prone to developing patellar tendinitis.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that affects the knee. It is a degenerative process where the cartilage of the joint gradually wears away with age. It may also be caused by excess stress on the joint such as repeated injuries or being obese. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and debilitating autoimmune condition and can also affect the knees by causing the joint to become inflamed and gradually destroys the joint’s cartilage. Septic arthritis occurs when the knee joint becomes infected by a bug. It can quickly cause extensive damage to the knee cartilage hence needs emergency treatment.
How is knee pain managed?
Knee problems are usually diagnosed by history and clinical examinations. Imaging like X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT and Radionuclide bone scans can also aid in diagnosis.
In Singapore, there are various pain management clinics that deals with knee joint pain relief. Treatment usually depends upon what exactly is the cause and constitutes of:
- Medications: are mainly prescribed for knee join pain relief. These include over-the-counter medications like Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Neurofen) or Naproxen.
- Activity limitations and rest: To speed recovery and protect against further damage, activities such as kneeling, squatting or playing sports should be avoided temporarily. There shouldbe ample rest to the knees to reduce the repetitive strain.
- Ice, heat, compression and elevation: usually reduces the knee pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy: includes stretching and muscle strengthening exercises to stabilize the knee joint. Each muscle should be stretched multiple times a day. These comprise of the Hamstring stretch, the Quadriceps stretch and Runner’s stretch. Rehabilitation of the knee almost always includes strengthening exercises like straight leg raise and squats. Exercises that improve flexibility, balance and movements are also important. Knee braces can also be used to protect and support the joint.
- Injections: Sometimes your doctor may suggest injecting medications or other substances directly into your joint. These include Corticosteroids, Hyaluronic acid or Platelet-rich plasma (PRP). These lubricate the knee joint, provide pain relief and promote healing.
- Surgery: Is usually used as the last resort. These include Arthroscopic surgery, Partial and total knee replacement surgery.
Pain and its underlying cause must be properly diagnosed and treated to prevent it from getting worse, and deteriorating to the point where surgery and other invasive treatments become necessary.