The Common Causes of Knee Pain – A Guide to Inflammation, Overuse and Injury
From aches to injury, you’ve probably experienced knee pain at one time or another. For some, it may turn into a chronic condition. Identifying the cause can not only speed your recovery but help prevent future injuries as well.
Be sure to talk to your doctor or an orthopaedic physician for a formal diagnosis and before starting treatment.
Arthritis is the most common and well-known inflammatory disease. Degenerative cartilage in the knee joint causes bones to wear on each other, resulting in knee pain and stiff joints.
Nicknamed for its association with jumping, it’s more common in runners. Inflammation in the form of patellar tendonitis can cause minor tears and knee pain in the tendon that controls front thigh muscles.
A small cushioning pad in front of your knee cap, known as a bursa, can put pressure on your knee when inflamed or irritated, causing pain. Pre-patellar bursitis is often the result of consistent kneeling, a direct blow to the knees or falling.
Overuse, or Runner’s Knee
IT Band Syndrome
A form of Runner’s Knee common in bicyclists, iliotibial band syndrome causes knee pain from an overuse of tissues on the outer thigh and knee. The IT band is most often irritated as a result of poor training habits or low muscle flexibility. Running on banked roads or biking with improper posture can cause the leg to turn inward repeatedly and increase risk as well.
Athletes that put heavy stress on their knees, such as runners, jumpers, skiers, cyclists and soccer players, may experience patellofemoral syndrome. This can be a result of misaligned kneecaps, complete or partial dislocation, injury, thigh muscle tightness or flat feet, all of which can irritate soft tissue and joint lining.
Painful knee sprains often occur in the form of stretched ligaments and partial or complete tears. Mild, moderate and severe sprains may require different treatment accordingly.
The most common knee injury, a meniscal tear can cause serious joint pain. The meniscus is the cartilage between your thighbone and shinbone and can tear from a twisted knee or direct contact like a tackle. Degenerative tears can also occur when cartilage has worn thin with age.
The anterior cruciate ligament can be torn by a sudden change in motion such as stopping or shifting direction. Depending on the severity, an ACL tear may require surgery.
source: Northwestern University – Northwestern Medicine