All about knee pain
Knee pain is a debilitating and all too common ailment for millions of adults. According to the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 4.7 million men and women in the United States were living with a total knee replacement in 2010. And according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there is an increasing trend among Americans under the age of 65 opting to undergo a full knee replacement.
If you have knee pain, it is important to know the different types of knee pain and to be able to identify from where the pain is coming. With this knowledge, you will be empowered to make informed decisions about how to best ease the pain.
Pain in the knee cap – Runner’s knee
Runner’s knee is often caused by overuse or overstretched tendons. Runner’s knee can also result from direct trauma, as in a fall or a blow, or problems with the feet, such as fallen arches, says WebMD.
Pain above the knee – Swollen quadricep tendon
According to Houston Methodist, overuse or issues with alignment can be the culprit in this ailment. Soccer and volleyball players are often effected.
Pain behind the knee – Baker’s cyst
According to Mayo Clinic, Baker’s cyst causes a bulge and tightness behind the knee. The pain often increases when the knee is fully flexed or extended and is usually a symptom of an underlying issue, like arthritis.
Pain on the outside part of the knee – Torn meniscus
WebMD explains the meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions and stabilizes the joint. This is why a meniscus tear can be so painful. In addition to pain on the outsides of the knee, symptoms include swelling, difficulty bending or straightening the leg, and a tendency for the knee to lock.
Pain below the knee (in teenagers) – Osgood-Schlatter disease
Teenagers who experience knee pain likely have an inflamed growth plate below the knee. According to OrthoInfo, Osgood-Schlatter is common during growth spurts and sometimes manifests as a bump just below the knee.
To ease knee pain, follow the RICE method.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Walthour, in an article for Sutter Health’s MyLifeStages, explains the RICE method is one of the best ways to treat mild pain and get back to everyday activity.
RICE is an acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
Dr. Walthour says to always listen to your injury and to rest as long as you have pain. If the knee is swollen with a puffy, tender joint, ice the knee following the “20 minutes on, 20 minutes off” rule. Ice will slow down inflammation and speed up recovery. It is also important to prevent the build up of inflammatory fluid. To do this, wrap the knee snuggly in a bandage. Be careful not to wrap too tightly as to cut off blood circulation. The fourth step is to keep the leg elevated above the heart. This helps drain excess fluid from the knee and reduce inflammation.
Another way to ease knee pain is to stretch the muscles that support the knee, says a physical therapist in Gaiam Life. Hamstrings and inner thigh muscles compress the knee joint when they are too tight. Be sure to also strengthen your gluteus maximus (the butt muscles) and abdominal muscles for the best support. When the body is strong and flexible, it is well-balanced so not too much pressure is placed on the knees.
Next time you experience knee pain, pull up this article to figure out the source of your pain. Follow Dr. Walthour’s RICE method and be sure to stretch and strengthen regularly to support your knees.