Knee pain is a common complaint with a variety of different causes. In most cases, knee pain is the result of an injury. This may take the form of a sudden impact or direct injury. If serious, knee injuries can cause swelling and limited mobility.
Types of Knee Pain
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the most prevalent forms of knee pain include:
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis represents the leading type of arthritis of the knee. It occurs when cartilage wears away over time and can be very painful. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the knee and causes cartilage inflammation and cartilage damage.
- Cartilage problems: Cartilage serves as a cushion in between bones. If cartilage is injured, it can result in pain from bones rubbing together. The meniscus is cartilage located in between the femur and the shinbone. According to the NIAMS, meniscus injury is a common source of knee pain and is typically caused by twisting the knee.
- Ligament sprains: Ligament sprains are typically caused by a sudden twist of the knees or by an injury that results in direct impact to the knee. If severe enough, ligament sprains can be disabling.
- Tendon injuries: Tendon inflammation can be caused by any number of activities that result in overuse of the tendons. It is often seen in athletes and dancers. If inflammation persists, it can eventually lead to a torn tendon.
Preventing and treating Knee Pain
According to the NIAMS, knee pain can be prevented by stretching before exercising. Being mindful of over-intensifying workouts is also recommended. For knee pain that is already present, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises people to rest and avoid any activities that may make the pain worse. (This usually involves any weight-bearing activities.) Elevating the knee and applying ice can also improve swelling. Pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with pain management, as well. According to the NIH, you should contact a doctor if you are unable to put weight on your knee, have severe pain, are in pain after three days of home treatment, have a fever, or experience knee buckles, clicks or locks.