Treat Your Knee Pain With Motion Orthopaedics
If you are experiencing knee pain that is preventing you from going about your daily activities, the team at Motion Orthopaedics can help. Our comprehensive approach to knee care includes everything from diagnostics and imaging to treatment and rehabilitation.
Motion Orthopaedics is devoted to maximizing our patients quality of life. We achieve this by providing compassionate, individualized care and innovative solutions for our patients. If you are ready to start climbing stairs pain-free, contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Years Of Wear And Tear Can Take A Toll On Your Knees But There Are Strategies To Relieve Pain
Whether it’s a sharp pain or a dull ache, knee pain is a common problem in women particularly older women. One study of women ages 50 and older, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that nearly two-thirds had some type of knee pain during the 12-year study period.
Dr. Rebecca Breslow, a sports medicine doctor and an instructor in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, says many of the active older women and the female athletes she sees in her practice have knee pain. While there are numerous pain-inducing knee conditions, three seem to be the most common culprits in older women:
- patellofemoral pain
What Causes Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee happens when your knee joint cartilage wears out or is damaged. Articular cartilage is tough, rubbery tissue on the ends of your bones that lets you bend and move. Meniscal cartilage absorbs shock from pressure on your knee.
Your cartilage is like your cars shock absorber, protecting your car from bumps and jolts. Drive on lots of rough roads, your shocks wear out fast. Drive on easy streets, your shocks last longer. You can wear out or damage your knee joint cartilage if:
- Youre overweight. If your body mass index is 30 or more, youre seven times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in your knee than someone with a lower BMI.
- You injure your knee or have an old knee injury.
- You frequently put stress on your knee at your job or playing sports.
- You inherited a tendency to develop osteoarthritis of the knee.
- You have crooked bones or joints, such as having knocked knees.
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Pressing On The Knee Doesnt Hurt
Sometimes, knee pain can be caused by problems elsewhere in the body. Sciatica which generally refers to pain that travels from the lower back into the lower legs can cause pain down the leg through the knee, for example. Hip problems can also cause pain in the knee area, Gotlin says. If youre unable to increase your pain level by pressing or touching your knee, your knee might not be injured at all and you should consult your doctor to figure out whats going on. If you cant make it hurt, its possible that the injury may have come from somewhere else, Gotlin explains.
Causes And Risk Factors
Several different risk factors can make you more likely to develop chondromalacia patella. These include:
- Having excess weight
- People with less muscle mass
- Those with a previous knee injury
Chondromalacia patella is also more frequently seen in individuals who participate in endurance sports like running or biking. In this situation, muscular imbalances cause the kneecap to track improperly in the femoral groove, leading to repetitive rubbing and irritation.
Neurologic Walking Difficulty Causes
Walking difficulty due to neurological conditions may be related to the following.
- Central: The central nervous system contains the brain and the spinal cord and acts as the main control center for many bodily functions, including walking. The central nervous system controls important functions such as balance, sensation and control. When there is dysfunction or injury to the central control center such as in stroke many of these systems will be affected.
- Peripheral: The peripheral nervous system contains the nerves that leave the brain and spinal cord and provide sensation and motor function to different parts of the body. Multiple conditions can affect the peripheral nervous system without affecting the central nervous system and result in gait abnormalities and associated symptoms. For example, there are many infections that can affect the peripheral nerves and result in difficulty walking.
Is Your Knee Pain Making Daily Activities A Chore
Knee pain can make daily activities a chore. Walking becomes a love/hate activity. Walking is recommended to help reduce symptoms by maintaining muscle mass, reducing blood pressure and also as a way to stay functional by maintaining joint mobility. Many people are tentative to start a walking program because they think it will create more knee pain!
Contrary to popular belief, walking doesnt make symptoms worse. Daily structured walking programs reduce stiffness and inflammation. Walking is definitely an exercise that is preferred for people with osteoarthritis, it is always recommended to discuss any forms of exercise with your physician when you have a chronic condition. Walking not only helps with reducing pain and increasing joint flexibility it also helps with bone density, increased speed and a better quality of life.
Walking can help to decrease overall health risks. According to the Arthritis Foundation Walking lowers the risk of blood clots, since the calf acts as a venous muscle pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart.
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You Have Significant Difficulty Walking
Of course, many knee injuries make it painful and hard to walk. For people with severe knee injuries, it is usually very hard if not impossible to walk. You will often need to be helped off the field and require crutches. Anyone who is placed on crutches should be considered to have a serious knee injury until an Orthopedic Surgeon evaluates you. In many of these cases, an urgent X-ray is useful to rule out a fracture if the athlete cannot put any weight on the knee.
Chronic Degenerative Meniscal Tear
If you’ve experienced swelling, joint pain, and a sensation that your knee is sticking or locking, the problem could be a chronic degenerative meniscal tear.
A meniscus is a rubbery cartilage cushion in your knee that helps to pad the joint. Each of your knees has two of them. “Sometimes these structures are torn during an injury, but in degenerative cases, the cartilage just becomes frayed and worn over time, resulting in a breakdown or tearing of the tissue,” says Dr. Breslow. When a meniscus is frayed, ragged edges or loose pieces may get stuck in the joint when it’s moving, causing a sensation that your knee is locking up. If this is happening, be sure to see your doctor.
How to treat it: Surgery is no longer the first-line treatment for this condition, says Dr. Breslow. “It used to be that most people got referred for an arthroscopic procedure to remove the torn meniscus or repair it,” she says. “But now research is showing that, in many cases, the condition can be treated non-operatively just as effectively.”
Clinicians are now more likely to recommend treating the condition with physical therapy. As is the case with patellofemoral pain syndrome, building up the muscles around the joint and in other parts of the body can ease pain, without the risk of complications. However, you may need surgery if a piece of the meniscus is interfering with the motion of the joint.
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Whats Behind The Knee
The back of the knee has complicated anatomy.
As well as the knee joint sitting in the middle, the thigh and calf muscles pass through this area. Firstly, the large hamstring muscles start from the pelvis and pass across the knee to attach to the lower leg bones. In addition, the large calf muscles begin at the bottom part of the thigh and cross the knee to form the large Achilles tendon.
Finally, vital nerves and blood vessels cross the back of the knee to supply the lower leg and foot.
Other Knee Pain Causes And Symptoms
Other causes of knee pain include:
ACL Injury An ACL injury is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament , one of four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone. This type of injury is common in people who play sports that require sudden changes in direction, like basketball and soccer. It is typically a noncontact injury . If you experience symptoms of an ACL injury, such as a loud pop or “popping” sensation in the knee, seek immediate medical care, notes Mayo Clinic.
Fractures The knee bones, including the kneecap , can break during incidents like falls or auto accidents, or simply due to stepping the wrong way if your bones are weaker due to osteoporosis, per Mayo Clinic. If you have symptoms of a knee fracture, such as a pain around the kneecap or in the knee itself, possibly with swelling, inability to bend or straighten the knee or to hold the leg out straight, deformed appearance of the knee, or bone protruding from the skin of the knee, seek medical attention, per Johns Hopkins.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Sometimes called runners knee, this refers to pain between the kneecap and the thighbone, notes Mayo Clinic. It’s common in athletes and young adults, and can develop in older adults due to arthritis. Home treatments such as rest and ice can help, but if the pain doesnt go away in a few days, call your doctor, notes Mayo Clinic.
Mechanical Problems Some mechanical problems can also cause knee pain, including:
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You Have Difficulty Walking
Its fairly obvious that many knee injuries can make it hard and very painful to walk.
If your pain is from a severe knee injury, it can be next to impossible to walk.
You will often need to be helped around the house or use crutches.
If your pain is to the point where you cant get around the house anymore, it is definitely serious, and it should be evaluated as soon as possible.
X-rays will be useful to rule out fractures if you cant put any weight on the knee.
The Knee Is Misshapen Swollen Or Hot
A warm, swollen knee can mean you have an infection or a serious injury. If the knee is misshapen, that can indicate a physical injury such as a dislocation. In that case, your knee wont heal normally with just home care. Kneecap dislocation is also a possibility. In either of these cases, you need to seek medical care at once.
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Your Knee Is Unstable Or It Pops
If you have pain in your knee and it feels unstable, or you heard it pop, you may have an anterior cruciate ligament tear or a dislocated knee cap.
These injuries typically occur when you twist your knee.
These are often the non-contact knee injuries you see many athletes sustain.
Knee cap dislocations are more common than most people think.
Most of the time, a dislocated knee cap will go back into place, but if it remains dislocated, your knee will start looking strange.
Surgery to repair the patella ligaments usually isnt necessary for your first dislocation.
Anytime you hear a loud pop in your knee accompanied by pain, there is a strong chance your knee pain is serious and you should see a doctor for medical advice.
Common Causes Of Swelling After A Severe Knee Injury Include:
Over 70% of athletes with a swollen knee who felt a pop while running and pivoting will have an ACL tear or a patella dislocation. Patella dislocations are more common than you think. All of you dread an ACL tear. But most of you are surprised when we see you in the office and tell you that your kneecap dislocated. Most dislocated kneecaps will reduce spontaneously on the field. That means that the kneecap will go back into place on its own.
Patellar dislocations may hurt just as much as an ACL tear. Because patella dislocations are such a common sports injury we wrote this post to go into far more detail about them.
With any of the above issues, most of you will find it very difficult to walk without severe knee pain. Crutches, icing, and elevation are beneficial in these cases. These knee joint injuries need to be evaluated for an X-ray. Fractures are rare, but they do occur. Very few knee injuries will require a brace unless you want to use it for comfort. The most important reason for seeing a sports medicine physician after an injury that causes swelling is to look for these most common severe injuries.
Many of these severe knee joint injuries should be evaluated sooner rather than later. The initial treatment will be a reliable examination to arrive at a diagnosis, which will be followed with an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on what we think you injured, we may consider rest, physical therapy, or surgery.
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Your Knee Is Moving Or Shifting
Changing direction suddenly while your foot is planted on the ground can result in a dislocated knee. While this typically isnt considered a serious injury, some rare cases are. A dislocated knee can often include torn ligaments, broken blood vessels, and damaged nerves. When this happens, your knee may feel like its moving or shifting when you walk. You may also experience:
- Inability to continue with day-to-day activities
Your Knee Is Locked And Cant Be Straightened
If you have pain in your knee and cant completely straighten your leg, you might have a locked knee.
That just means that your knee cant fully straighten.
There are many reasons this can occur, such as swelling and inflammation, keeping you from fully straightening your knee.
It can also be caused by a meniscus tear that has flipped into the middle of the joint and caused mechanical locking.
Sometimes it can also be very painful to bend your knee, with a sharp pain occurring every time.
The most common cause of pain from a locked knee is a unique tear in the meniscus called a bucket handle tear which would indicate your knee pain is serious.
Bucket handle tears are serious and often require surgery.
In a bucket handle tear, a large piece of the meniscus tears flips over and gets stuck in the middle of your knee joint.
Several different types of meniscus tears can occur that can cause your knee to lock. These types of tears also need to be identified early on.
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What Else Could It Be
If you are still not sure what is causing your severe knee pain, visit the knee pain diagnosis section where we help you work out what is going on by thinking about the location of the pain e.g. front, back or side of the knee.
Alternatively, in the knee symptoms guide we look at other symptoms typically linked with knee pain such as pain when running or bending, knee locking, sharp pain or pain on the stairs. And remember, if you are suffering from severe knee pain, get checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
Page Last Updated: 06/29/22
Who Gets Pfp Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually happens in people who do sports that involve a lot of knee bending and straightening, such as running, biking, and skiing. It also can happen to people, particularly young women, who do not do a lot of sports.
PFP syndrome is more common in women and happens most often to teens and young adults.
Tight or weak leg muscles or flat feet can make someone more likely to get PFP syndrome.
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Pinched Nerve In The Neck
A pinched nerve in the neck is also called cervical radiculopathy. It means that a nerve in the neck, at a point where it branches off from the spinal cord, is being compressed by the surrounding bones, muscles, or other tissues.
It can be caused by a traumatic injury, such as from sports or an automobile accident, especially if the injury results in a herniated disk. It may also arise from the normal wear and tear of aging.
Symptoms include sharp, burning pain with numbness and tingling from the neck to the shoulder, as well as weakness and numbness into the arm and hand.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and simple neurological tests to check the reflexes. Imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI may be done, as well as electromyography to measure nerve impulses in the muscles.
A pinched nerve in the neck often improves with simply a few days or weeks of rest. Physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid injections into the spine can all be very helpful.
Top Symptoms: pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain that radiates down arm, pain in the back of the neck, severe shoulder pain
Urgency: Primary care doctor
What You Need To Know
- The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee.
- Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.
- Diagnosing a knee injury or problem includes a medical examination and usually the use of a diagnostic procedure such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan or arthroscopy.
- Both non-operative and surgical treatment options are available to treat knee pain and problems depending on the type and severity of the condition.
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Accompanying Symptoms Of Knee Pain When Walking
People experience sharp needle like pain in knee when walking that may be accompanied by different symptoms including pain in the musculoskeletal system.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease says that damages to the musculoskeletal system include fractures, stress fractures, sprains, strains, ligament tears, dislocations, bursitis, and tendinitis.
These injuries can cause temporary pain while the body heals, plus it may cause long-term pain, which can come and go or become aggravated when walking.
Aging also contributes to knee pain in the form of arthritis, which has several types, all causing various kinds of pain and discomfort. Different types of arthritis can cause knee pain. These include rheumatoid arthritis, knee arthritis, and conditions like gout that may make it hard to walk down stairs.
It is common for these types of pain to be caused by damage to the tibia, runners knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome. The knee is a complex joint and can be worn down leading to a torn meniscus, jumpers knee, and other meniscal damage.
Besides a meniscus tear, damage to your thigh bone, anterior cruciate ligament, and collateral ligament may all cause this type of pain.