What You Need To Know About Chronic Knee Pain

Knee Injuries

What You Need To Know About Chronic Knee Pain

Chronic knee pain is affecting more people now than ever. The knee is the main joint used for walking. Because the knee joint is so complex, it is susceptible to injury. According to a study of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, knee pain affects as many as 2% of adults, with osteoarthritis being the most common cause.

What are the components of the knee joint?

The knee is the joint where the shinbone (tibia), thighbone (femur), and kneecap (patella) all connect. In addition to bones, the knee joint contains ligaments, tendons, menisci, and cartilage. Damage or injury to any of these structures can lead to chronic knee pain.

  • Ligaments – Connective tissues that hold bones together and give stability to the knee.
  • Menisci (singular meniscus) – Cushions between the tibia and femur that are shock absorbers.
  • Cartilage – Substance on the bone ends that allow for smooth gliding.
  • Tendons – Connective tissues that attach muscles to bones.

What are the causes of chronic knee pain?

Common causes of chronic knee pain include:

  • Trauma – Caused by accidents physical activity, and falls, traumatic injuries happen when the knee is under strain. Examples include making a sudden change in direction, being hit directly on the knee, and falling from a height.
  • Metabolic disorders – Illnesses that affect how the boy cells convert food to energy. Got is an example of a metabolic disorder that leads to chronic joint pain.
  • Degenerative tissue disorders – The most common chronic knee condition that leads to joint pain is osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear-and-tear of the joint. Osteoporosis is a bone thinning disorder, osteoporosis also damaged connective tissues and cartilage.
  • Connective tissue disorders – Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common connective tissue disorder affecting the knee. With this disease, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, causing knee pain from joint inflammation.

What symptoms occur with chronic knee pain?

Chronic knee pain is often associated with popping sounds as the knee straightens out and flexes, weakness of the knee, inability to stand or fully lengthen the knee, stiffness around the knee, swelling, and warm sensations through the knee.

How is chronic knee pain diagnosed?

The orthopedic surgeon will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and take some diagnostic imaging tests. The doctor relies on risk factors, description of injury, and diagnostic tests to make the diagnosis. To rule out certain diagnoses, laboratory work may be necessary.

How is chronic knee pain treated?

Treatment for chronic knee pain involves:

  • Medications – For pain and inflammation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents are used (ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen).
  • Exercise – Adjusting lifestyle helps reduce the risk of chronic knee pain. Low-stress activities can help strengthen the joint.
  • Resting the knee – If knee pain is related to too much activity, treatment often involves resting the knee.
  • Total knee replacement – For severe knee damage, total knee arthroplasty is an option. The orthopedic surgeon uses prosthetic implants to replace damaged knee structures.
  • Corticosteroid injections – For many causes of chronic knee pain, injecting the joint with a corticosteroid agent can help. This injection is done in the doctor’s office, and it offers 3-6 months of pain relief.
  • Viscosupplementation – Synvisc involves hyaluronic acid, which provides relief and compels the knee to produce more cartilage.
  • Regenerative Medicine Injections – this includes several options. Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy involves a simple blood draw which is then concentrated to allow the platelets and growth factors to heal the knee injury. Stem cell treatments involved bone marrow or fat derived stem cells. The newest stem cell treatments come from amniotic fluid and work great.

In a recent clinical study, researchers evaluated the management of chronic knee pain. Results showed that medication followed by physical therapy was most popular among study participants.

Resources

Lie D (2011). Prevalence of Knee Pain Increased During 20 Years.Ann Intern Med, 155, 725-732.

Mitchell HL & Hurley MV (2008). Management of chronic knee pain: A survey of patient preferences and treatment received. BMC Musc Disorders, 9, 123.

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