The knee is a complex joint that is susceptible to various injuries and conditions, and understanding the common causes of knee pain is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. In this article, we will explore the most common causes of knee pain and discuss their potential underlying factors.
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that commonly affects the knee. It occurs when the protective cartilage in the joint wears down over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Osteoarthritis typically develops as a result of aging, repetitive stress on the knee joint, previous injuries, or genetic factors.
- Ligament Injuries: Ligament injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears, or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears, can cause significant knee pain. These injuries often occur during sports activities or accidents that involve sudden changes in direction or impact to the knee. Ligament injuries can result in pain, swelling, instability, and difficulty with weight-bearing.
- Meniscus Tears: The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage pad that acts as a cushion and shock absorber in the knee joint. Meniscus tears are common and can occur due to twisting or rotating movements while bearing weight on the knee. Individuals with meniscus tears often experience pain, swelling, stiffness, and a feeling of locking or catching in the knee.
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is a condition characterised by pain in the front of the knee, around the patella (kneecap). It is often caused by imbalances in the muscles around the knee, poor tracking of the patella, overuse, or abnormal alignment of the kneecap. Activities that involve repetitive knee bending, such as running, jumping, or climbing stairs, can exacerbate the pain.
- Bursitis: Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction between bones, tendons, and muscles. When these bursae become inflamed or irritated, a condition called bursitis can occur. Knee bursitis often results from repetitive kneeling, prolonged pressure on the knee, or direct trauma to the area. It can lead to localized pain, swelling, and tenderness over the affected bursa.
- Tendonitis: Tendonitis refers to inflammation or irritation of a tendon, which connects muscle to bone. In the knee, common forms of tendonitis include patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee) and quadriceps tendonitis. Tendonitis often develops due to overuse, repetitive activities, or sudden increases in training intensity. It can cause localized pain, tenderness, and swelling around the affected tendon.
- IT Band Syndrome: The iliotibial (IT) band is a fibrous band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, attaching to the knee. IT band syndrome occurs when the band becomes tight or inflamed, typically as a result of repetitive knee flexion and extension. Runners and cyclists commonly experience this condition, which can cause lateral knee pain and discomfort.
These are some of the most common causes of knee pain, but it’s important to remember that each individual’s situation is unique. A thorough assessment by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan. As a Crawley physio you can visit me in clinic for a full assessment on your knee to determine the most likely cause of your symptoms.
Treatment options for knee pain may include physiotherapy interventions, exercises to improve strength and flexibility, pain management strategies, bracing or taping, and lifestyle modifications. The specific approach will depend on the underlying cause, severity of symptoms, and individual needs.
Note: This article was written with the help of AI technology and therefore may include incorrect information and discrepancies.