Knee pain affects persons of all ages; young and old. Incidentally, it is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints made by patients. The knee joint’s main function is to bend and straighten for moving the leg. In order to perform these actions and support the entire body, the knee relies on a number of structures including bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage that can easily be damaged.
What are the common causes of knee pain?
The common causes of knee pain include strained or torn ligaments or tendons around the knee, meniscal tear (which usually occurs when twisting or turning quickly or with the foot planted while the knee is bent); Patellofemoral Syndrome or maltracking syndrome (a condition characterized by severe to mild pain originating from the kneecap); dislocating knee cap; gout; trauma; bone abnormalities and fracture.
Groups at Risk
People who are most at risk of knee pain include individuals with weak muscles (quadriceps) around the knee, runners and other athletes who do not secure the kneecap properly before bending or extending the knee; the elderly with arthritis and people recovering from a slip and fall, car accident and other trauma to the knee.
The recommended treatment for knee pain is dependent on the cause of the pain. The first line of treatment for sudden onset of knee pain due to trauma or other acute causes can be recalled using this acronym: PRICE.
P- Protect the knee using a brace, bandage or crutches to prevent any further injury.
R- Relative rest because prolonged immobility can lead to loss of muscle strength and further weakness in the muscle.
I-Ice which should be done at 15 minutes intervals with 5 minutes rest, and repeated 3-5 times, to control swelling and reduce the pain.
C- Compression with a bandage which can also control swelling. Be sure not to bandage the knee too tight as this may lead to further pain, difficulty bending the knee and slow blood flow.
E- Elevation which will reduce swelling by allowing the excess fluid to flow back into the blood stream.
Mild to moderate cases of arthritis usually respond well to an effective therapy program and a few cases will need injection with medication to control inflammatory or regenerate the injured structures in knee. A lubricating injection is appropriate in other cases.
Surgery is necessary in severe cases.
Knee rehabilitation with a home exercise program may be essential for recovery.