Knee pain can appear seemingly out of nowhere or it can be progressive, starting with one little twinge that becomes more and more frequent until it never lets up. When you have knee pain, the pain can feel as if it’s coming from different parts of the knee, and it can seriously affect the activities that you do.
Causes of knee pain
When knee pain appears suddenly, it’s usually the result of a trauma. Some common ways when the pain occurs include:
- During sports activities, someone bumps into you and hits your knee forcefully.
- You lose your balance and fall on your knee(s).
- During repetitive motion such as bicycling, running or jumping, your knee suddenly gives out and you end up with pain in the knees.
When knee pain is progressively worsening, it may be due to:
- Arthritis of the knee, most likely osteoarthritis due to an old injury
- A slow injury as you continue doing one type of activity repetitively
- An imbalance of the muscles that eventually wears down different parts of the knee
- The patella bone is not lined up correctly with the femur bone, called patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Nutrient deficiencies that weaken your joints
Knee pain treatment
If your knee pain is sudden and you’re bleeding, it’s a good idea to go to the hospital and have it fully evaluated by a medical professional. Bleeding can be followed by infection, especially if there was any direct cut on the skin. Also, the cause of bleeding should be properly diagnosed, since some times a bone may be broken and jagged edges are puncturing other tissues inside the leg.
Treatment for repetitive motion injuries or arthritis
If you have knee pain during repetitive motion activities such as sports, or arthritis of the knee, you may not feel as if you need to go to the emergency room. In this case, the best recommendation is to use what is a standard prescription – RICE. RICE isn’t going home to eat a bowl of rice, but rather, it’s an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and E for elevation.
Resting your knee when you have pain in the knee helps give it time to recover. If you continue to use your knee, your body battles against healing. Only when you are resting your knee will it start the healing process.
Icing your knee when you have knee pain helps decrease swelling. One of the first responses of the body to an injury is to inflame the area. When inflammation results, white blood cells can rush into the area and then clean out the injury. The problem that often occurs is that too much inflammation occurs and for too long a period of time. This results in congestion of the area. Whenever there’s inflammation in your knee, you’ll also have knee pain. The goal is to allow a little bit of inflammation but not too much which would impede the healing.
Compression refers to bandaging your knee with an ace bandage so you can keep it immobilized and prevent it from movements that could cause additional damage. Compression could also mean using a flexible brace, which is another way to not only prevent further damage but also reduce any swelling that has occurred.
Elevation refers to the act of sitting on a chair or lying in a bed with your knee elevated. When you have pain, then elevating it allows the proper blood drainage in the area.
The combination of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation in cases of knee pain can’t be emphasized enough. Doctors report on countless cases who followed this procedure and received good results.
Treatment for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
If you have patellofemoral pain syndrome, the prescription of RICE will be instrumental to your healing. However, you’ll have to go beyond this standard treatment if you want long-term results. If your patella bone isn’t tracking properly in the tendon, then the best next step is to obtain a doctor’s order for physical therapy.
This condition will usually respond to strengthening three major muscle groups. The first is the quadriceps muscles. These muscles on the thigh are the muscles that give bodybuilders’ legs a strong appearance and stabilize the patella. When they are strong, you can extend your leg forward without much effort.
All muscles are opposed in action by other muscles. For example, muscles that extend the leg are opposed by muscles that flex the leg. The hamstring muscles, located on the back of your thigh, flex your knee. These muscles should also be strengthened when someone has patellofemoral pain syndrome. Your goal is to strengthen the muscles so that they can remain strong no matter what the pull on the tendon and patella is. It’s similar to strengthening your back with weight building exercises when your back is weak.
There’s one other group of muscles that should be strengthened. These are the muscles that move your thigh – the buttock muscles or gluteal muscles. When all three sets of muscles are strengthened, the patella should glide along the tendon without any knee pain.
However, if pain in the knee still exists after RICE and physical therapy, it’s probably time to seek a surgical consultation. Surgery is used as a last resort.
There are other reasons for knee pain, but these are some of the most common.
Filed under: Knee Pain