Why do my knees hurt?

We love our knees when they work.  But just as much as knees help us run, dance, jump and play, they can also cause a lot of pain and immobility at any age.

There are three main reasons for knee pain.

  1. Injury

Knees are always getting bumped and bruised, especially when they belong to children. Aside from bruises, there are many common types of knee injury:

  • fractures. This is a key cause of knee injury and can occur in any of the knee bones or the kneecap (patella). Knee fractures are most often caused by falls or accidents, such as motor vehicle accidents. Complications of weak bones caused by osteoporosis can also result in a knee fracture
  • anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. This is a popular injury for football and basketball players. You’ll definitely know if you’ve done your ACL because the pain is excruciating. The ACL is one of four ligaments that connect your shin bone to your thigh bone. Over-stretching of this ligament, often due to a sudden change in direction while walking, running or playing sport, can cause this injury. A popping sound may be heard when the ligament is over-stretched or torn, and the knee will swell in the following hours
  • torn meniscus. The meniscus is rubbery cartilage that acts as a cushion between the shin bone and thigh bone. It can be torn when you suddenly twist your knee while it is bearing weight, such as when quickly standing up from a squat
  • patellar tendinitis. Tendinitis can occur in both children and adults, and is often caused by rigorous exercise that results in inflammation of the patellar tendon. This tendon connects the shin bone and knee cap, and is most often impacted by exercises such as running, skiing, jumping and cycling
  • iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) often occurs in runners, hikers and weightlifters. Constant flexing and extending of the knee impacts the iliotibial tendon, which becomes inflamed and causes pain along the side of the knee.
  • Arthritis

There are many types of arthritis that cause knee pain.  Some of the most common types include:

  • osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage of the knee deteriorates with age
  • rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune illness that can impact any joint in the body, including knees
  • pseudogout occurs when joint fluid develops calcium containing crystals and can commonly occur in knees.
  • gout, that involves uric acid crystal build up in the joint, most often occurs in toes but can also occur in knees
  • septic arthritis occurs when the knee joint becomes infected, causing swelling, pain and redness. It can accompany a fever. This type of arthritis requires immediate medical attention due to the infection.
  • Mechanical issues

Sometimes we can have genetic or mechanical issues that cause knee pain.  Some of the more common mechanical issues include:

  • poor alignment caused by hip, feet or ankle issues. If you have biomechanical problems with your hips, feet or ankles, this can cause the knee to move at an unnatural angle, which puts pressure on the knee joint
  • popliteal cyst. Otherwise known as a baker’s cyst, it is a fluid-filled bulge that can occur at the back of the knee. This is a mechanical issue that can result from arthritis and often heals on its own once the cyst pops
  • osteochondritis dissecans. This is a joint disorder that affects adolescents and children, and involves cracks that occur in cartilage resulting in pain and swelling. It is thought to occur as a result of trauma caused by injury or repetitive stress on the joint
  • patellofemoral pain syndrome. This occurs when the knee cap doesn’t track properly in its groove and causes pain. A dislocated knee cap also causes knee pain
  • bursitis. Each of our knees has 11 bursae, which are small sacs of fluid that reduce friction so tendons and ligaments can glide smoothly over knee joints. Inflammation of any of these sacs is called bursitis, which causes pain and limits mobility.

Other mechanical issues can be caused when a piece of bone or cartilage breaks off and floats in the knee joint space, causing irritation.

How to protect your knees

It’s never too late to take actions that help your knees.  Here are just some of the things you can do to ease pressure on these important joints.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight causes stress on your knees, while being too underweight can cause weaknesses and make you more susceptible to injury.
    1. Maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Having good muscle strength and flexibility allows you to achieve a full range of motion and reduce the risk of knee injury.
    1. Be careful during sport. Some sports such as football, soccer, skiing, running, weightlifting and contact sports can put you at higher risk of knee injury. Make sure to have the right equipment, such as good quality sporting shoes, stretch before exercising, and try to avoid sudden sharp movements of your knees as much as possible.

When knee pain is not your knee

In many cases, knee pain actually has nothing to do with the knee but is caused by back pain. This is due to referral pain, where a bulging disc in the spine may present as knee pain because the nerves that branch off the lower spine send pain down the nerve to the knee.

To learn more or for relief from knee pain contact Lane Chiropractic Pottsville on 6676 2270.

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