Every one of us experience knee pain at some point in our lives. It may be mild in some people and severe in few. Whatever the reason might be, remember that knee pain is something you cannot ignore.
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints (with many components) in the body. It is the most important weight bearing joints and is often vulnerable to injuries and joint disorders. The knee joint should be flexible while walking and bending and at the same time it should offer us a great stability while standing up. The muscle and ligaments supporting the knee must be strong, and in good condition, as they help in various knee movements and activities without getting strained.
Sometimes, the muscle and ligaments become too weak leading to knee problems.
Let’s have a glance at some common knee problems which result from knee injuries and diseases.
Some diseases can affect the knee.
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joint; it is the most common cause of severe pain and disability. There are nearly 100 types of arthritis; the common one’s are:
This is the most common type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage in the knee joint wears away, and the changes occur in the adjacent bone. Osteoarthritis is caused by joint injuries or overweight. It occurs more frequently in people of age 50 or older. If a young adult develops osteoarthritis, then it is typically due to an injury to the knee or it may be inherited.
It is an autoimmune disease that usually affects the people at a young age. It occurs when the immune system attacks the synovium, the membrane that lines the joint. This attack causes inflammation of the bone and leads to the destruction of the cartilage and bone, in some cases muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The other types of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Gout is an acute and intense, painful form of arthritis that occurs when the crystals of the waste product called uric acid gets deposited in the joints.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune disease characterized by destructive inflammation of the skin, internal organs, other body systems, and joints.
- Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine, leading to stiffness and in some cases, fusion of some of the vertebrae of the spine.
- Psoriatic arthritis is a condition in which the inflamed joints produce the symptoms of arthritis in the patients who have or may develop psoriasis.
- Reactive arthritis is the term that describes the forms of arthritis caused by the infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses.
It is a condition caused by repetitive stress or tension on the part of the growing area of the upper tibia. The disease is characterized by the inflammation of the patellar tendon and the surrounding soft tissue at the point of the tendon attachment to the tibia. It is also associated with the tendon injury in which it gets stretched and tears away from the tibia and takes the fragmented bone with it. It mainly affects young people, particularly boys between the ages 10 and 15, who play games or sports such as running and jumping.
It occurs when there is a loss of blood supply to the bone underneath the joint surface. The affected knee and its covering of the cartilage gradually loosen and cause pain. Osteochondritis dissecans commonly occurs in active adolescents and young adults. It may be caused by the blockage of a small artery or a tiny fracture that damages the overlying cartilage. A person with this condition gradually develops osteoarthritis.
Knee injuries occur due to the direct blow or sudden movements that cause strain in the knee beyond its normal range of motion. The knee problem can lead to a lifetime wear and tear of the joints. The following are the common types of knee injuries:
It is also known as runner’s knee, which refers to softening and breakdown of the articular cartilage of the patella (kneecap). The damage may range from a small abnormal surface of the cartilage to the surface that has been worn away to the bone. This injury occurs when the blow to the knee cap tears off either a small piece of cartilage or a large fragment of bone. This condition commonly occurs in younger adults and athletes.
The injuries to the menisci occur by the excess force during the rotation of the knee while bearing weight. The partial or total tear can occur when a person quickly twists or rotates the upper leg while the foot stays still. The severity of a tear depends on its location and the extent. If the tear is tiny, the meniscus stays connected to the front and back of the knee, and if the tear is large, the meniscus is left hanging by a thread of cartilage.
Cruciate ligament injuries
These injuries are referred as sprains. They do not cause pain or disability. The anterior cruciate ligament is stretched by sudden twisting motion, and the posterior one is injured by a direct impact such as automobile accident or football tackle.
Medial and lateral collateral ligament injuries
These type of injuries occur during contact sports such as football or hockey. The cause of the collateral injuries is a blow to the outer side of the knee which stretches and tears the ligament on the inside of the knee.
This injury occurs due to a ruptured tendon. If there is an overuse of the tendons, then the tendon stretches and becomes inflamed, a condition called as tendinitis. After repeated stress, the tendon becomes inflamed or tears.
Iliotibial band syndrome:
It is an inflammatory condition and overuse injury caused when a band of tissue rubs over the outer bone of the knee. It causes pain on the outer part of the knee, especially while running.
Plica is an extension of the protective synovial capsule of the knee. Plica syndrome occurs when plicae become irritated or enlarged by the overuse or injury.
Fractures are caused by high-energy trauma such as falls from a motor vehicle and significant heights. The knee joint may fracture at the place where ends of the femur and tibia meet.
The dislocation occurs when the bones of the knee are out of place, either completely or partially. It can be caused by the abnormality in the structure of a person’s knee. In some people, dislocation is often caused by high-energy trauma such as falls, motor vehicle crashes, and sports-related contact injuries.
Be careful before performing any exercises or going for any sports. Wear a protected kneecap and try to avoid activities that stress your knees. Do not ignore if you have pain or swelling in the knee. Consult your doctor immediately and get it treated as it can lead to many critical knee problems.