Our knees succumb to vast amount of usage throughout our lives, so it isn’t a surprise that injury and pain in the knee area is common. Problems are generally more frequent the more active you are too, so even the fittest, healthiest people are affected. The longer you leave a knee issue, the more complex treatment could be required so it is important to understand what could be causing your pain.
Why knee pain is so common
Our knees bear the weight of our entire bodies and subsequently they absorb a lot of shock over the years. They are also responsible for allowing many everyday movements, that we simply take for granted.
Aside from the levels of usage, the knee is also a complex joint, so taking this into account there is much that can go wrong.
Typically knee pain can be broadly related to:
- Degenerative conditions – where the connective tissue weakens
- Injuries and trauma
- Repetitive strain
- Muscular imbalances
Here are 9 common causes of knee pain.
(1) Ligament sprains and tears
Sprains are one of the most common causes of knee pain. They occur when you injure the connective tissue that joins two bones together, known as the ligament.
It is possible to completely tear the ligament too, which not only causes excruciating pain but can require reconstructive surgery to treat the injury.
Tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament or medial or lateral ligament, all of which are found in the knee, are not as common but they do occur frequently, particularly for athletes, where sudden movements can cause trauma.
Our knees contain tendons and overuse or repetitive strain can cause knee pain from an irritation and inflammation of the tendon.
This can generally be easily treated once a doctor assesses the injury.
(3) Meniscus Tears
The meniscus is the cushioning in your knee, made from cartilage.
Injuries occur when your knee is twisted, forcefully, therefore, tears to the meniscus are common in sportspeople. Pain can also arise from degeneration.
Generally, meniscus tears can be treated with keyhole surgery, which typically has a quick recovery, although meniscal loss can lead to arthritis, so care needs to be taken to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment.
(4) Patellofemoral pain syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
When the kneecap rests on the thighbone, a condition known best as “Runner’s Knee” can be the result. Athletes are the most likely to get this syndrome, as well as teenage girls.
It is connected to overuse and skeletal misalignments, as well as muscular imbalances.
(5) Knee Bursitis
The bursae are small sacs that cushion the ligaments and tendons in the knee. They are filled with fluid and are there to reduce friction around the knee.
Inflammation can occur either from sudden impact to the front of the knee, perhaps from an accident. Another common cause of knee bursitis is from constant kneeling, which adds pressure to the front of the knee.
Osteoarthritis is caused when cartilage degenerates. This can happen in other parts of the body, but it is common in the knee also.
Wear and tear over years is typically the cause of osteoarthritis, which is why it affects, more commonly, those of over 50 year of age. However, some younger patients do get this condition too.
(7) Patellar Dislocation
The kneecap, like other joints, can become dislocated, where a sudden movement forces it out of place.
Dislocations to the knee, known as patellar dislocations, are most common in athletes but can also happen as the result of an accident.
(8) Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome
There is a band of connective tissue running from your hip bone to your outer, upper calf muscle, called the illotibial band.
Runners often experience ITB syndrome where the connective tissue rubs against the knee bone and causes pain.
(9) Patellar Tendonitis (Jumpers Knee)
In sports where a lot of jumping is involved such as basketball, athletics and gymnastics, a condition called patellar tendonitis can arise.
The tendon between the shin and the kneecap becomes inflamed and causes knee pain.
Repetitive use worsens the condition so treatment is essential.
These are just some of the more common causes of knee pain. If you are experiencing any knee pain, seek the help and advice from specialists to diagnose the exact issue and help you get back to optimum health.