- 1. Bones
- The knee is one of the most complex joints in our body. There are three main bones in a knee joint: thighbone, kneecap and shinbone.
- 2. Articular Cartilage
- The ends of the thighbone and shinbone as well as the back of the knee cap have a slippery substance called the articular cartilage. This articular cartilage helps the knee bones to slide smoothly across each other. Without the articular cartilage, our bones will constantly be rubbing against each other every time we straighten or bend our knee, thus increasing wear and tear on the bones.
- 3. Meniscus
- Between our bones, there is a rubbery padding called the meniscus, which helps to cushion and stabilise the joint. When we jump and land, the meniscus acts as a “shock absorber” between the bones so that our bones do not feel the impact entirely.
- 4. Ligaments
- Our knee bones are connected to each other by ligaments. There are two types of ligaments: the cruciate ligaments and the collateral ligaments. They act like strong ropes to hold the bones together. They control the sideways and back and forth movement of the knee.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
Many different types of diseases and injuries can cause knee pain. Tendons, ligaments, bones and other connective tissues work together to form your knee joint, the largest joint in the human body. Your knee absorbs about twice your body weight during normal walking and at least four times your body weight during sports activities. Knee pain can be due to a chronic condition or the result of a sudden abrupt joint injury. Injuries, arthritis, certain diseases and syndromes are the most common causes of knee pain.
Knee Pain from Injuries
- Strain (Injury to muscles surrounding knee) or sprain (injury to ligaments)
- Meniscal tears
A knee sprain is an injury of the ligaments while a knee strain is an injury to the muscles surrounding the knee. A mild knee sprain usually does not affect the overall ability of the knee joint. A moderate knee sprain occurs when the ligament is partially torn and there is some mild instability of the knee when standing or walking. A severe knee sprain is when the ligament is completely torn and the knee is more unstable. The anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament are the most commonly injured knee ligaments in sports medicine, which account for more than 50,000 hospital admissions for repair each year. When one knee ligament suffers a serious sprain, there is a good chance that other parts of the knee may also be injured. For example, because the MCL helps to protect the ACL from certain types of extreme knee forces, the ACL can become vulnerable to injury when the MCL is torn. In more than half of moderate or severe MCL sprains, the ACL also is sprained.
The menisci can be easily injured during knee rotation while bearing weight. As the foot stays planted, knee rotation may cause partial or total tears of the menisci. With meniscal tearing, the pain is felt most often when the knee is straightened. The pain can range from mild small tears, to severe mobile fragments with swelling. Meniscal tears frequently require surgical treatment.
Fractures, Dislocation and Chondromalacia
Accidental large fractures, as well as small stress fractures, can cause knee pain. If a bone is dislocated from its normal position, pain occurs. Chondromalacia is a degenerative condition of the kneecap due to rubbing of knee cap with other bones and can cause knee cartilage damage and resultant pain. This condition is common among young, athletic individuals, but may also occur in older adults who have arthritis of the knee.
Arthritis of the Knee
A multitude of arthritis types exist as the cause of knee pain. Normal wear and tear that affects the knees of older individuals is called osteoarthritis. As cartilage wears away the pain increases. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of tissues within body joints, which causes knee pain. Typically, osteoarthritis can be diagnosed using MRI or X ray which can show bone and cartilage damage as well as the presence of bone spurs. A blood test can also help distinguish which type of arthritis is affecting the knee.
Chances of arthritis increases with age. A previous injury to the meniscus or ligaments can also mean lesser shock absorbing ability for the knee and can result in more wear and tear of the knee joints. Heredity and weight gain can also lead to arthritis. Exercising and strengthening the muscles can help to relieve pain and stabilise the joint. Changes of lifestyle such as swimming or cycling instead of jogging and playing tennis can put lesser stress on the knee and relieve pain. Alternative minimally invasive therapies like Shockwave Therapy and TECAR Therapy can also help with pain relief and healing. If all other options don’t work, then surgery might be a good option.
How to know if you have Arthritis?
Symptoms of arthritis of the knee include:
- Pain that increase when you are active and decreases after with rest
- Swelling and feeling of warmth in the joint
- Stiffness in the knee when you have been sitting or sleeping for a while
- Decrease in mobility of the knee
- Cracking, grating sound when knee moves