What Are The Common Causes Of Knee Pain
Sustaining an injury is by far the most common and often unavoidable reason for experiencing knee pain and swelling.
A meniscus tear is a typical knee injury, particularly for athletes or people who play contact sports. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions your femur and tibia . There are two in each knee joint.
Whether your injury is a sprain, torn ligament or menisci, dislocation or broken bone, youll usually get some fairly instant knee pain, swelling and tenderness. And the knee pain will be more intense depending on how badly youre injured, explains Dr Rhianna McClymont.
Underlying conditions usually cause knee pain to come on more gradually instead. While this list is by no means exhaustive, GPs tend to see the following conditions causing chronic knee pain.
Why Do My Knees Hurt Common Causes
Your knee is a complex structure. It includes three bones:
- The bottom of the thighbone
- The top of the shinbone
- The kneecap
Strong ligaments and tendons hold these bones together. Cartilage under the kneecap cushions and stabilizes the bones.
Any damage or disease in these structures can lead to knee pain. Common causes of knee pain include:
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Are you suffering from pain when straightening your knee but not when bending it? Our physical therapists at Border can help. Our team specializes in personalized treatments that can help you manage and prevent knee pain from conditions like runners knee and jumpers knee. Contact our team today for more information about knee pain or to schedule an initial appointment.
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When Should I Be Concerned About Not Being Able To Straighten Knee
A single episode where you cant straighten the knee that is not associated with other symptoms typically does not warrant concern or further evaluation. Multiple episodes of not being able to straighten your knee warrant further evaluation. Who should evaluate the clicking in your knee? Bypass your surgeon and schedule a consultation with a physician trained in Interventional Orthopedics. Surgeons provide surgical solutions that are not always in your best interest. What is Interventional Orthopedics? It is a board-certified physician in PM& R or anesthesia with advanced orthopedic training with nonsurgical treatment options. They use orthobiologics to heal injured orthopedic tissue. Orthobioligcs are biological substances naturally found in the body that are used to promote quicker healing of muscle, tendon, and bone injuries. To learn more please click on the video below.
Less Common Conditions Causing Pain At The Front Of The Knee
Bursitis is inflammation of the fluid sacs that act as cushions around your kneecap. It can be caused by kneeling a lot and is sometimes called housemaids knee or clergymans knee. Traditionally, these people spent a lot of time on their knees. More commonly these days, its caused by overuse, a fall or injury, or by conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Chondromalacia patellae is a condition where the smooth cartilage underneath your kneecap softens and breaks down. Youre most likely to get symptoms when you put stress on your knees for instance, going up or down stairs or sitting for a long time.
Recurrent partial dislocation of the patella is where your knee regularly gives way, because your kneecap moves out of position. Its more common in girls, especially those with knock-knees and can run in families.
OsgoodSchlatter disease and Sinding-LarsenJohansson disease are common causes of knee pain in children and teenagers who play a lot of sports. They both cause pain and tenderness just below your kneecap, at the top of your shin bone.
There are other conditions that may cause pain at the front of your knee. If your pain doesnt go away with self-help measures, a doctor or physiotherapist will be able to help find out whats causing it.
You can access a range of treatments on a pay as you go basis, including physiotherapy. Find out more about physiotherapy >
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When Should I See A Doctor
How do you determine if you have a serious knee injury? If you hurt your knee twisting it, or if you were struck by someone else and you have pain trying to straighten it, you may have a serious knee injury. But you may not. There is a difference between someone with pain trying to straighten the knee, and someone who simply cant straighten the knee because they feel like something is blocking their motion.
It turns out that if you lose the ability to straighten the knee fully, or you can not straighten the knee without pain then the risk of having a serious injury increases. Less worrisome are people who simply woke up and now have pain trying to straighten the knee. Often times that might be some inflammation or swelling and is often due to some underlying osteoarthritis.
Determining if you have a severe knee injury is important. After most mild knee injuries we are back on the field fairly quickly. If after a few days you cannot straighten your knee without pain then you cannot return to the playing field. Basically, if your loss of extension persists for more than a few days you should see a doctor for an evaluation.
As we discussed in this post, sports medicine doctors consider the loss of being able to straighten the knee one of the signs of a serious knee injury.
A bucket handle tear of the meniscus is one of the most common reasons why you will find it impossible to straighten your knee. We have a post dedicated to this unique meniscus tear here.
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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What Causes Knee Pain When You Straighten Your Leg
Each knee consists of 2 small pieces of rubbery cartilage called menisci situated deep within the joint. They serve as shock absorbers between the two main bones of the knee the thigh, or thighbone, and the tibia, or shinbone. The medial meniscus lives on the inner side of the knee, and the lateral meniscus on the external side. Meniscus tears are common injuries, particularly throughout sporting activities. They also happen in older people, as the menisci thin and damage with time. Pain while aligning the knee is frequently present with a meniscus tear. Knee swelling may occur, particularly with tears triggered by a severe injury. Part of the torn meniscus in some cases catches in between the bones, causing locking of the knee.
Articular Cartilage Damage
Articular cartilage covers the surface of the thigh and tibia, making it possible for the bones to move smoothly throughout knee movements. Throughout decades, duplicated knee movements that accompany daily activities might ultimately damage the articular cartilage and result in osteoarthritis. As the cartilage deteriorates, the underlying bones enter into direct contact, causing pain and a grinding sound or feeling with knee movement. Joint swelling and stiffness happen due to accompanying inflammation. Knee defect typically develops with severe osteoarthritis.
Bursitis and Baker Cyst
Muscle, Bone and Synovial Membrane Disorders
You Experience Greater Than Normal Movement
If you feel like your range of motion in the knee is higher than usual, something might be out of place or injured. This is known as joint instability.
You may feel like your knee will buckle or fold with walking, twisting, or weight-bearing.
The sensation of the knee giving away may occur with simple daily activities or upon return to sport following what was thought to be a minor injury, explains Dr. Brown.
Additional episodes of joint instability may worsen the condition of a knee after an injury. Tears of the ACL or MCL and patellar dislocations could also create joint instability, he says.
Hundreds of thousands of exercise injuries occur each year. Among these, knee injuries are the most common.
The best plan of action is to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.
Wear a compression-sleeve-type brace or a knee brace with hinges in the interim, says Dr. Brown.
This may provide some comfort or level of support. Use crutches if you feel like you could fall and suffer additional injury because of knee joint instability.
Another type of hypermobility can occur when the kneecap moves out of place. This condition is called a patella dislocation. Its usually painful when it happens, and it might be sore the next day. If it pops back in by itself, the injury might not be serious. The true test is whether you feel confident that you can resume regular activity later that day or the next day.
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When To See Your Doctor
Don’t wait if your knee pain is sudden and intense. Pick up the phone if it won’t go away or gets worse.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor might take X-rays or other images of your knee. Blood or knee fluid samples can help confirm or rule out certain conditions. Treatment may include medication, special exercises, braces, or in some cases surgery. Losing weight could help lessen pressure and strain on your knees.
Knee Injury: 6 Things To Do For The Pain
Your plan will depend on your specific injury. Mild to moderate issues will often get better on their own. To speed the healing, you can:
Some people with knee pain need more help. For instance, if you have bursitis, your doctor may need to draw out extra fluid from the bursa in your knee. If you have arthritis, you may need an occasional corticosteroid shot to settle down inflammation. And if you have a torn ligament or certain knee injuries, you may need surgery.
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What Are The Reasons My Knee Hurts When Straight But Not When Bent
When people think of knee pain, usually they make the assumption that the knee hurts worse when trying to bend it. While this is true with many conditions, its also possible to have knee pain that feels worse when straightening your knee.
Its hard to enjoy your favorite activities or live a normal daily life when your knee hurts when straight but not when bent. Take a moment to learn more about what causes this pain and how physical therapy can help.
Other Causes And Symptoms Of Knee Pain
Other injuries, syndromes, and mechanical problems may also cause knee pain. These include:
ACL Injury An ACL injury occurs when you tear your anterior cruciate ligament , which is one of the four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone. It’s a common injury among people who play sports like basketball and soccer, which require sudden changes in direction. Call your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of an ACL injury, such as a loud pop or “popping” sensation in the knee, advises Mayo Clinic.
Fractures A knee fracture can occur if the knee bones, including the kneecap , break during incidents like falls or auto accidents. It can also be caused by something as slight as stepping the wrong way if your bones are weaker due to osteoporosis, per Mayo Clinic. Call your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of a knee fracture, which include sudden 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, per Johns Hopkins.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is sometimes called runners knee, refers to pain between the kneecap and the thighbone, per Mayo Clinic. This condition is common in athletes and young adults, and can develop in older adults due to arthritis.
Mechanical Problems Several mechanical problems with the knee can also cause pain, including:
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Potential Reasons Your Knee Hurts When Straight But Not When Bent
- Runners knee Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, runners knee is a condition in which your kneecap shifts out of place. When the kneecap is out of its position, its very painful and can affect your ability to straighten your knee.
You may develop runners knee if the tendons holding your kneecap in place become too tight or too weak. Injuries to the knee or frequent running on overpronated feet can lead to the development of this condition.
- Jumpers knee Also known as patellar tendinitis, jumpers knee is a condition in which the tendons around the kneecap become inflamed. Inflammation on these tendons can develop from overexertion of the knee in activities that involve a lot of force, like jumping. When you have jumpers knee, it can be painful to fully extend your leg.
Dont Skimp On Strength Training
Strength training offers countless benefits, but specifically building up the muscles around your knee may help mitigate joint pain associated with loss of cartilage, says Dr. Ciotola.
Keeping the quad muscles strong around the knee will help patients tolerate the symptoms of arthritis much better, he says. People who have very strong legs will tolerate a very worn-out joint much better than a couch potato.m
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How Is Pfp Syndrome Treated
Someone with patellofemoral pain syndrome needs to limit or completely avoid activities that cause pain. Sometimes a change in training is all that’s needed. For example, someone who usually runs hills to train can try running on a flat, soft surface instead.
A person who has severe pain or pain that interferes with activity needs to rest the knee until the pain is better.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the knee every 12 hours for 15 minutes at a time. Put a thin towel between the ice and your skin to protect it from the cold.
- You can take ibuprofen or naproxen . Follow the directions that come with the medicine for how much to take and how often. Do not take this medicine for longer than about 23 weeks.
An important part of the treatment for PFP syndrome is improving the strength and flexibility of the legs, hips, and core muscles. Health care providers usually recommend going to a physical therapist to make an exercise plan that will help. The plan may include stretching, squats, planks, lunges, and other exercises that improve strength and flexibility of the legs and hips.
The health care provider might also recommend:
- a knee brace
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes surgery is needed for PFP syndrome.
Is It Arthritis If My Knee Hurts When Straight But Not When Bent
Often, when people suffer from knee pain, they experience pain as a sensation when bending the knee. However, some conditions cause the knee to hurt more when its straight rather than when bent.
If you suffer from knee pain when its straight but not when bent, you may be wondering about the cause and how it can be treated. Some have concerns that this pain could be the sign of arthritis. While its possible that your knee pain when straightening your knee could be related to arthritis, its more likely related to runners knee or jumpers knee.
You Notice An Obvious Deformity
If you notice your knee jutting outward in a way it never has before, take note. A dislocated or fractured patella can cause injuries like this, explains Brian Schwabe, C.S.C.S., board-certified sports physical therapist based in Los Angeles.
While some deformities occur over time, when the deformity is a result of an injury, it could be the result of a fracture or chronic wear on the knee joint. If you are already experiencing any kind of misalignment in your lower extremities, then you could be more prone to this type of injury.
If you notice a bone deformity after an injury, he recommends seeking the assistance of an orthopedic doctor immediately. The doctor will likely take x-rays as well as perform a visual diagnosis to determine if you need surgery.