Experiencing Knee Pain? Here are the Common Causes
Your knees are subjected to a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis. They’re responsible for bearing the weight of your whole body, providing strength and stability, and absorbing a lot of shocks throughout your life. Given the large role our knees play in everyday movements, it’s no wonder many of us experience aches and pain in our knees at one time or another. Knee pain is especially common among athletes. In fact, it’s estimated that knee problems account for around one third of all doctors’ visits related to muscle and bone pain.
In this blog, the fellowship-trained orthopedic physicians at NY Orthopedics’ Knee Center will address some of the most commonly seen cases involving knee pain and explain what causes these conditions and injuries to occur.
Why is knee pain a common problem?
Aside from the fact that the knees are heavily relied upon for many everyday movements, anatomically speaking, there are also reasons why knee pain is so prevalent. The knee is a complex joint with a lot of interconnected parts that work together, and the more moving parts that a joint has, the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong. Injuries and repetitive strain are common causes of knee pain. Degenerative conditions of the connective tissue are also possible, and even muscular imbalances can contribute to knee-related problems.
What are the common causes of knee pain?
Some of the common causes of knee pain include:
Ligaments are bands of tough and flexible connective tissue that join two bones together. When you sprain something, you’ve sustained an injury to this connective tissue. Sprains are one of the most common causes of knee pain.
Complete Ligament Tears
Along with ligament sprains, complete ligament tears are another type of knee injury that can cause significant pain. Ligaments such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be completely torn or ruptured, resulting in knee instability. Tears in the posterior cruciate ligament and medial or lateral collateral ligaments are also possible. Complete ligament ruptures often require reconstructive surgery.
Meniscus tears are a common cause of knee pain among athletes. The meniscus is a pad of cartilage that forms a cushion between the bones of your upper and lower leg, and is often injured when the knee is forcefully twisted.
This overuse injury is characterized by irritation and inflammation of a tendon. Tendonitis in the knee is caused by repetitive strain or overuse of the tendon.
Technically called patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee is usually associated with overuse, muscular imbalance, and skeletal misalignments. It results in pain where the kneecap rests on the thighbone. It’s most common in athletes (especially runners) and teenage girls.
Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, which are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the tendons and ligaments in the knee and reduce friction. A bursa can become inflamed after direct trauma to the front of the knee or it can result from frequent and sustained pressure on the knee (e.g. from maintaining a kneeling position).
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along your outer leg from your hip bone to your upper calf. In ITB syndrome, this band becomes too tight and rubs against the bone at your knee. ITB syndrome is a common cause of knee pain among runners.
This condition causes a painful bump on the front of the shin below the knee where the tendon attaches, and is caused by excessive tension on the tendon. It’s most common among athletic children whose bones may grow at a faster rate than the muscles.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
This is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage of the knee deteriorates, typically due to wear and tear over time. It is common in patients over 50 years of age, but sometimes is seen in younger patients too.
Dislocated Kneecap (Patellar Dislocation)
A patellar dislocation happens when the kneecap slips out or is forced out of place by trauma. It’s typically caused by a direct blow or a sudden twist of the leg and is common among young athletes.
Jumper's Knee (Patellar Tendonitis)
This is a common cause of knee pain in athletes whose sport involves a lot of jumping. It’s characterized by inflammation of the tendon connecting your kneecap to your shin, and like other forms of tendonitis, is caused by repetitive use.
These usually occur after an injury or due to degenerative knee conditions. Loose bodies are most commonly fragments of bone or connective tissue that float around in the knee joint.
Find Treatment for Common Causes of Knee Pain at NY Orthopedics
NY Orthopedics’ Knee Center is home to a team of fellowship-trained specialists who are dedicated to treating knee injuries and conditions, both sports and non sports-related. We offer a full range of treatments and emphasize treating conditions with nonsurgical methods whenever possible. But in cases when surgery is necessary, our patients have access to the latest state-of-the-art procedures from our experienced physicians.
Some of the treatments for knee that we offer include:
- Cortisone injections
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP)
- Physical therapy
- Ligament reconstruction
- Diagnostic arthroscopy
- Loose body removal
- Torn meniscus repair
- Patella realignment
To learn more about the common causes of knee pain and to watch animated videos that explain our treatment offerings, head over to our Knee Center page.
Knee pain may be a common occurrence, but it doesn’t have to be something you live with on a daily basis. So if you’re experiencing knee pain, schedule your appointment today with one of our experienced physicians. Whether you’re a world-class athlete or a weekend warrior, we’re here to assist you on your road to recovery.