How Does Osteoarthritis In The Knee Affect My Body
Knee pain is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis in the knee, making it painful for you to jog, run, climb stairs or kneel. It can also make your knees feel stiff or swollen. Over time, osteoarthritis of the knee can change the shape of your knee joint, making your joint feel unstable or wobbly.
Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Knee
The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and swelling. Early symptoms may be mild. Arthritis gets worse over time, though, and symptoms become more significant.
If you have arthritis, you might notice symptoms, including:
- Stiffness and swelling of the knee making it difficult to bend and straighten the joint
- Increased pain and swelling in the morning or after sitting or resting
- Increased pain after activity
- A sensation of “locking” or “sticking” when moving the knee
- Weakness or buckling in the knee
How Are Knee Injuries Diagnosed
To diagnose a knee injury, health care providers ask about how the injury happened and what symptoms it causes.
The health care provider will do a physical exam that includes pressing on the knee and legs and moving them in certain ways. These tests can show what part of the knee is injured.
Imaging tests done sometimes used include:
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What Is The Treatment For Knee Pain
Treatments for knee pain are as varied as the conditions that can cause the pain.
Medications might be prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition or for pain relief.
If you are taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medications regularly for your knee pain, you should see your doctor to be evaluated.
Sometimes physical therapy sessions to strengthen the muscles around the knee will make it more stable and help guarantee the best mechanical movements. Working with a physical therapist can help avoid injuries or further worsening of an injury.
Injecting medications directly into your knee might help in certain situations. The two most common injections are corticosteroids and lubricants. Corticosteroid injections can help arthritis and other inflammations of the knee. They usually need to be repeated every few months. Lubricants that are similar to the fluid already in your knee joint can help with movement and pain.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Torn Mcl And Meniscus
A medial meniscal tear can be mistaken for an MCL sprain because the tear causes joint tenderness like the sprain. With a valgus laxity examination, a medial meniscal tear can be differentiated from a grade II or III MCL sprain. The presence of an opening on the joint line means the medial meniscus is torn.
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Nerve Pain In The Knee Radiating From The Lumbar Spine
This is typically termed Sciatica Syndrome, which is nerve pain going down the leg. Sciatica syndrome, more clearly defined, is typically from lumbar degenerative disc disease or lumbar disc herniation irritating the lumbar spinal nerve roots that refer to pain down the leg.
The nerves in the lumbar spine are numbered 1-5. Each nerve has a specific role and area that it provides information to. It provides both sensation and motor information to each area. It is much like the service panel or fuse box in your home. The top switch goes to the kitchen whereas the second one goes to the bedroom. So too with the nerves in the lumbar spine.
In relation to knee nerve pain for example the L2 nerve root provides sensation to the groin and inside thigh above the knee. L3 provides sensation to the anterior thigh. L4 nerve root irritation can go past the medial and front of the knee towards the kneecap down to the inside of the shin.
You Have Bunions Forming On Your Feet
It may be surprising to hear that bunions on your feet and your spine can affect each other. You may be wondering how these two can be connected and how they have an impact on your knees.
Bunions or bone spurs may grow on your feet if you have a back problem. The L5 and S1 spinal nerves travel to the muscles stabilizing inside and outside of your feet. If these nerves become injured, the muscles will be weakened and unable to perform effectively. You wouldnt be able to walk, run, or stand as you normally would.
Once this happens, your feet will roll towards the inside and the arches will flatten out to support your weight with the inner edge of your feet. Foot pronation occurs when the main tendon continues to stay misaligned and keeps the joint of the big toes tilted unnaturally, creating pressure in the joint where bunions can form.
The strain of moving this way tends to cause back pain. When the back and feet areas are weakened, the knee joints have to work harder and wear out faster, causing knee pain.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis In The Knee
Pain is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis in the knee. Your knee might hurt when you move it, or even when you are just sitting still. Other symptoms are:
- Your knee feels stiff, particularly when you first get up or when youve been sitting for a long time.
- Your knee looks swollen or feels puffy.
- You hear a cracking or grinding noise when you move your knee.
- Your knee feels wobbly, as if it could buckle or give out.”
- Your knee might lock up, or feel as if it is stuck.
Knee Pain Diagnosis Chart
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board
A knee pain diagnosis chart can be a really useful tool to help you work out why you have pain in your knee. There are lots of different structures in and around the knee that can cause pain.
Knowing what typicallycauses pain in each area of the knee makesit easier to reach an accurate knee pain self diagnosis.
We have therefore devised these two knee pain location charts so that you can see what causes pain in the parts of the knee.
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What Other Symptoms May Be Associated With Knee Pain
If you have knee pain, you may get other symptoms such as:
- swelling, redness or heat in the knee
- bruising around the knee
- locking or clicking
- inability to straighten your knee
See a doctor if the pain doesnt improve in a few weeks, if you cant move your knee or put any weight on it, or if your knee locks or gives way.
Go to an emergency department if your knee is very painful, is badly swollen or has changed shape, or if you have a fever and a red and hot knee.
Who Is At Risk For Knee Pain
You might be at greater risk of knee pain if you:
- Exercise heavily, or have recently increased the intensity of your workouts
- Have a body mass index greater than 25
- Have poor alignment of your patella
- Walk with your feet turned overly out or in
- Have weakness in nearby muscle groups
- Have too much tightness in nearby muscle groups
- Have a recent history of injury to the area
- Are female
You cant change many of these risk factors. Losing weight and correcting excess muscle tightness or muscle weakness may help reduce your risk.
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When To Contact A Medical Professional
- You cannot bear weight on your knee.
- You have severe pain, even when not bearing weight.
- Your knee buckles, clicks, or locks.
- Your knee is deformed or misshapen.
- You cannot flex your knee or have trouble straightening it all the way out.
- You have a fever, redness or warmth around the knee, or a lot of swelling.
- You have pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or bluish discoloration in the calf below the sore knee.
- You still have pain after 3 days of home treatment.
What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Knee Pain
A health care professional will begin by asking questions related to the person’s general health and then specifically to the nature of the knee pain .
Next, an examination of the knee will be performed. This will include bending the knee through the full range of motion, checking for stability of the ligaments, and evaluating for any tenderness and swelling. It is often helpful to compare the results of the examination of the painful knee with the other knee. Frequently, this is all that is required to make a diagnosis and start treatment. In several research studies, it has been found that an experienced examiner is as reliable as X-ray examination.
Sometimes the doctor might want to do further studies such as the following tests.
Plain X-ray can establish fractures and degenerative changes of the knee.
MRI is used to evaluate the soft tissues of the knee for ligament tears or cartilage and muscle injuries.
If gout, arthritis, or other medical conditions are suspected, a health care professional might order blood tests.
Removal of joint fluid
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Signs Your Knee Pain Comes From Your Spine
Unless you have suffered a traumatic injury to your knees, the knee pain you feel is not an inflammation or a problem with your joints. Most likely, the discomfort in your knees is a symptom of the underlying cause and theres a good chance your spine is the real culprit.
Here are four signs that can help you determine if your knee pain is a sign of a spinal condition:
What Are Knee Injury Treatments
Almost all knee injuries will need more than one visit to the doctor. If no operation is indicated, then RICE with some strengthening exercises and perhaps physical therapy will be needed. Sometimes the decision for surgery is delayed to see if the RICE and physical therapy will be effective. Each injury is unique, and treatment decisions depend on what the expectation for function will be. As an example, a torn ACL would usually require surgery in a young athlete or a construction worker, but the ACL may be treated nonoperatively with physical therapy in an 80-year-old who is not very active.
With the technology available, many knee injuries that require surgery can be treated surgically with an arthroscope, in which a camera is used to visualize the damage and small punctures are made in the knee to insert instruments to make repairs. Patients usually begin their post-op rehabilitation within days of the surgery.
If there is no rush to operate, then opportunity exists to pre-hab or strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles beforehand. When a joint like the knee is injured, the muscles around it start to weaken almost immediately. This is also true after the surgery, which can also be considered a further injury. Strong muscles in the preoperative state allow the potential for easier postoperative therapy.
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What Are The Types And Causes Of Knee Injuries
While direct blows to the knee will occur, the knee is more susceptible to twisting or stretching injuries , taking the joint through a greater range of motion than it was meant to tolerate.
If the knee is stressed from a specific direction, then the ligament trying to hold it in place against that force can stretch or tear. These injuries are called sprains. Sprains are graded as first, second, or third degree based upon how much damage has occurred. Grade-one sprains stretch the ligament but don’t tear the fibers grade-two sprains partially tear the fibers, but the ligament remains intact and grade-three tears completely disrupt the ligament.
Twisting injuries to the knee put stress on the cartilage or meniscus and can pinch them between the tibial surface and the edges of the femoral condyle, potentially causing tears.
Injuries of the muscles and tendons surrounding the knee are caused by acute hyperflexion or hyperextension of the knee or by overuse. These injuries are called strains. Strains are graded similarly to sprains, with first-degree strains stretching muscle or tendon fibers but not tearing them, second-degree strains partially tearing the muscle tendon unit, and third-degree strains completely tearing it.
There can be inflammation of the bursas of the knee that can occur because of direct blows or chronic use and abuse.
How Can I Prevent Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
While you cant always prevent osteoarthritis of the knee, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk youll develop it:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you jog or run, do so on grass or soft surfaces.
- Vary your fitness routine with low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling.
- Add light strength training to your fitness routine.
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Treating Arthritis Of The Knee
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are things you can do to manage the symptoms.
Your doctor may suggest reducing activities that aggravate knee pain, such as high-impact exercises like jogging, tennis, or basketball. You can switch to activities such as cycling or swimming to reduce strain on your knees. Losing weight can also improve wear and tear on your knees.
A physical therapist can help you strengthen the muscles in your leg so they can support your knee more thoroughly. Other exercises can increase range of motion and flexibility in the joint.
Knee braces can give support to aching knees and reduce pain from daily activities. A support device such as a cane or walker can help you redistribute your weight to take pressure off your knee. Shoes with custom orthotics can improve knee pain and make you more comfortable.
There is a wide range of options for managing pain, including over-the-counter pain medicines and prescription medications. Your doctor can suggest which drugs are best for reducing pain and swelling. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor might prescribe medications such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine to manage the overactive immune responses causing your knee pain. Steroid injections can relieve symptoms for longer periods of time, though they eventually wear off.
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your arthritis.
How Can I Manage Knee Pain
Treatment for knee pain depends on whats causing it and how uncomfortable it makes you.
- Mild knee injuries often improve with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. Wearing a brace can stabilize your knee while it recovers.
- If arthritis is causing knee pain, your treatment may include medication and physical therapy.
- Doctors can usually repair tendon and ligament tears with minimally invasive surgery, if necessary.
- More serious knee pain may require knee replacement surgery.
No matter what caused your knee pain, physical therapy exercises can strengthen the muscles supporting your knee to help relieve discomfort.
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Professional Help For Knee Injuries
- Aspiration if the knee joint is grossly swollen, the doctor may release the pressure by drawing off some of the fluid with a fine needle.
- Physiotherapy including techniques to reduce pain, kneecap taping, exercises for increased mobility and strength, and associated rehabilitation techniques.
- Arthroscopic surgery or keyhole surgery, where the knee operation is performed by inserting slender instruments through small incisions . Cartilage tears are often treated with arthroscopic surgery.
- Open surgery required when the injuries are more severe and the entire joint needs to be laid open for repair.
What Are The Treatments For Arthritic Knee Pain
After determining that your knee pain is, in fact, caused by arthritis, Dr. Williams and the caring staff at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to help you as quickly and reliably as possible. Some of the most widely known and used treatments for arthritis and arthritic knee pain include:
- Knee injections
- Fluid drainage
- Weight loss
- Physical therapy
In addition to these methods, Dr. Williams is proud to offer the breakthrough Regenexx family of nonsurgical treatments, which are designed to use a patients own stem cells to treat common and degenerative conditions without the need for going under the knife. While there are certainly some cases in which surgery may be unavoidable, Regenexx treatment has proven to be highly beneficial for chronic pain relief caused by a large number of conditions.
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What Is Knee Pain
Pain is a common knee problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint , the kneecap , or the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage of the knee. Knee pain can be aggravated by physical activity, as well as obesity, affected by the surrounding muscles and their movements, and be triggered by other problems . Knee pain can affect people of all ages, and home remedies can be helpful unless it becomes severe.
How Can I Ease Knee Pain At Home
Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend home care to relieve knee pain. These may include:
- Applying heat or ice packs.
- Modifying activities to avoid causing pain.
- Practicing gentle stretches or exercises.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Topical treatments such as muscle creams or rubs.
- Wearing a brace to support the knee.
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How Is Knee Pain Treated
Your healthcare provider might suggest several different treatment strategies to help ease your symptoms. These might include:
- Not doing activities that make your pain worse for a while, returning to activity only gradually.
- Icing the outside of your knee when it causes you pain.
- Taking over-the-counter pain medicines.
- Wearing a knee brace or taping your knee to support it.
- Wearing special shoe inserts to help keep your feet in the correct alignment.
- Practicing special exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your hip and your knee. Your provider or physical therapist can show you how.
These steps help most people manage knee pain. Your healthcare provider might advise surgery if you still have significant symptoms after 6 months of trying these other therapies. Depending on the underlying cause of your knee pain, your provider might suggest one of several surgical options, such as surgically realigning your kneecap. You can discuss all of your surgical options with your orthopedic surgeon.