Your knees are subjected to a lot of wear and tear daily. They’re responsible for bearing the weight of your whole body, providing strength and stability, and absorbing a lot of shocks throughout your life. Given the large role our knees play in our everyday lives, it’s no wonder many of us experience aches and pain in our knees at one time or another.
Why is knee pain a common problem?
Aside from the fact that the knees are heavily relied upon for many everyday movements, there are other reasons why knee pain is so prevalent. The knee is a complex joint with a lot of interconnected parts that work together, and the more moving parts that a joint has, the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong. Injuries and repetitive strain are common causes of knee pain. Degenerative conditions of the connective tissue are also possible, and even muscular imbalances can contribute to knee-related problems.
Contributing Factors for Knee Pain
Knee problems may arise from many illnesses or kinds of injury but some factors increase your risk.
- Weight– Higher bodyweight not only raises the risk of a severe knee injury, but it also contributes to longer hospital stays and more costly treatment.
- Age– Knee pain is most likely to occur after age 50 because we tend to exercise less and our muscle strength declines.
- Overexertion– Although exercise, in general, is good for your knees, you can overdo it. It is important, when training, to keep proper form and build up core strength to minimize the risk of a knee injury.
- Gender– Women tend to have wider pelvises, making a knee injury more likely. Women also tend to have weaker leg muscles which destabilize the knee. Certain hormones more common in women also tend to weaken ligaments.
- Tobacco use– Smoking has been linked to many health problems including musculoskeletal issues. Smoking contributes to the loss of cartilage and may make the pain more intense.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
- Ligament tears– The four ligaments that bind the bones in the knee joint are susceptible to injury. Among the most common is an anterior cruciate ligament tear which happens quite often in sports.
- Cartilage tears– Menisci made of cartilage line the knee joint and serve as shock absorbers as well as joint stabilizers. A tear in the meniscus may occur if the knee is abruptly twisted, especially among older people. This may prevent leg extension and inhibit walking.
- Tendinitis– A common condition among runners, skiers, and cyclists. The patellar tendon attaches quadriceps muscles to the kneecap and may become painfully inflamed due to overuse.
- Kneecap dislocation– The kneecap normally moves along a groove at the bottom of the femur bone, but the kneecap may be dislodged so that it moves improperly or is completely dislocated. This misalignment will destabilize the joint, producing pain and possibly inflammation.
- Bursitis– Bursa are fluid-filled sacs in the knee joint that help cushion tissue. The bursa between the shinbone and hamstring tendons may become inflamed, causing temporary pain.
- Fractures– A break in one or more of the bones in the knee may result from an impact. This is usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and tenderness. You may also experience limited mobility or grating movement.
- Osteoarthritis– This disease causes the cartilage in your joints to deteriorate. If advanced enough, this condition may cause the menisci in your knee to thin or crack. This can lead to joint stiffness, pain, and loss of mobility.
- Rheumatoid arthritis– This is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack the tissue in your joints. RA can erode the lining of joints, eventually leading to pain, bone erosion, and joint deformity.
Knee pain may be a common occurrence, but it doesn’t have to be something you live with on a daily basis. If you’re experiencing knee pain, give Dr. Larson a call at 435-774-8512.