KNEE PAIN

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Knee Pain

nee pain can affect anyone, young or old. Although it’s more common in people over the age of 40, sports injuries cause a number of young people to suffer knee pain as well. High impact sports such as running, football, basketball or hockey.  Medical conditions such as arthritis, gout, and infections tend to be more common in older patients. 

Before you pursue any invasive options such as injections or surgery, it’s best to understand why you are experiencing knee pain. With this information, you and your doctor can help determine a plane of care that might be less invasive.

While getting a knee replacement is an effective way to treat many types of knee pain, it should be a last resort. Some patients are simply too young for the procedure. Artificial knees last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. After that, many will require additional surgery.

What Are the Causes of Knee Pain?

Whenever we treat knee pain, we tend to see the same patterns of cause.

Injuries

  • Torn Meniscus-The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that absorbs shock between your shin and thigh bones. If you suddenly twist your knee, you might tear your meniscus. If it is torn, it will lose its shock absorbing abilities. This causes pain and damage to surrounding areas.
  • ACL Tear-The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), is one of four ligaments connecting your thigh and shin. ACL tears are common in athletes. Especially those that play sports requiring sudden changes in direction such as basketball, soccer, or football.
  • Bursitis-Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones, tendons and muscles surrounding your joints. In patients with bursitis, bursae become inflamed. This causes pain.
  • Patellar Tendonitis-Tendonitis is inflammation of tendons. The patella is the kneecap.
  • Fracture-Any number of accidents can cause breaks or fractures to bones near or in the knee. If you have osteoporosis, your risk of fractures is increased.

Structural or Mechanical Problems

  • Dislocated Joints-If your kneecap (patella) moves, you will almost certainly experience pain.
  • Pain stemming from other joints. People who have pain in their hips or feet may accommodate that pain by walking in a different way. Altering your gate might cause knee pain.

Arthritis

There are many types of arthritis. The types that tend to cause knee pain are:

  • Gout is a painful condition stemming from uric acid crystals that form around a joint. It’s most common in the feet and knees.
  • Pseudogout has similar symptoms to gout, but the causes are different. Both conditions stem from crystals around the joints. However, pseudogout comes from calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can affect joints as well as skin, organs, appetite, nerve tissue, among other things. This happens when the immune system attacks the synovium. This is the lining of the membranes surrounding your joints.
  • Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage that lines the knee joint gets worn out and rough. It’s more common in people over the age of 50.
  • Septic Arthritis is usually accompanied by a fever. If your knee joint becomes infected, you might experience swelling, redness, and pain. There’s usually no trauma before the onset of pain. Additionally, septic arthritis can quickly cause extensive damage to the knee cartilage. If you have knee pain with any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

What Causes Behind the Knee Pain?

Behind the knee pain is also known as posterior knee pain. You should always speak to a doctor if your posterior knee pain becomes serious. Especially if you have swelling in your calf. This could indicate you have a clot somewhere in your leg. This is called deep vein thrombosis. It is a serious problem that needs urgent treatment.

Some of the possible causes include:

  • Cysts
    • A cyst is an abnormal, non-cancerous growth filled with fluid.
    • The most common type of cyst in this case is a popliteal cyst, also called Baker’s cyst. It is located in a shallow depression behind the knee.
    • Baker’s cyst is often associated with other knee ailments. 
    • Many types of injuries can cause cysts. Cysts in the knee usually stem from heavy blows to the patella, falling forward, or playing contact sports.
    • When cysts burst, some hear a popping sound. Many will feel warmth spreading down the calf. Redness and bruising tend to follow.
  • Knee Injury
    • Contact sports frequently cause knee injuries.
    • Knee Injuries also result from poor balance, overweight, falls, and weakened joints.
  • Arthritis
    • Knee pain from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis tends to be concentrated at the front of the knee. However, it is possible that pain may radiate to the back of the knee as well.
  • Joint inflammation
    • Inflammation occurs with any of the previously mentioned causes.
  • Cancerous or benign growth
    • This is extremely rare.

For many, in addition to pain, there might be swelling at the back of the knee. In some cases, it radiates down the calf. If you’re experiencing swelling and tenderness in your calf, see a doctor. It could indicate a clot in your leg known as deep vein thrombosis. This needs urgent medical attention.

What Are the Alternatives to Knee Replacement?

For many people, knee pain is an inevitability. Most people can prevent, or improve their symptoms with simple, low-cost methods. 

  • Lose Weight
    • Extra weight puts extra pressure on your joints. Especially your knees.
  • Low Impact Exercises to strengthen knees
    • The cardiovascular benefits of running are great, but the damage it can sometimes cause joints isn’t worth it for some.
    • Choose low-impact exercises such as swimming, biking and strength training.
  • Use pain medications with care
    • Opioids should only be used in rare, extreme cases. They are addictive and do not treat knee pain in the long term.
    • Over the counter painkillers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs treat pain-causing inflammation. 
    • Always speak to a medical professional about what pain medications are right for you.
  • Practice cautiously
    • Learning how to perform activity in a way that is best for your body can take time and diligent practice. Always make sure you are using the best possible form when you exercise. 
    • Consult with a physical therapist, personal trainer, or other expert to make sure you’re performing exercises correctly.
  • Cartilage Regeneration
    • This is an innovative procedure that replaces damaged or worn down cartilage in the knee.
    • Its scientific name is autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)
    • This procedure takes healthy cartilage cells from the damaged knee. 
      • Next, the cartilage samples culture in a lab for four to six weeks. 
      • Then, the new cells are injected into the damaged joint. This enables joint regeneration with the surrounding cartilage.
    • This minimally invasive procedure is best for people with one or two areas of cartilage loss. If you have more extensive damage, you may require a knee replacement.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
    • This destroys the sensory nerves that allow pain signals to travel from your knee to your brain.
    • This tends to be a temporary fix. The nerves will grow back in six to 24 months and with that, the pain might return.

How Do You Strengthen Knees?

The knee is the largest joint in the body. Since we use our knees extensively every day to walk, climb, or jump, they easily experience wear and tear. Exercises to strengthen the knee do not affect the knee joint directly. Rather, they strengthen the muscles surrounding it. When you have strong muscles in the legs, your knees will be better supported. This, in turn, prevents future knee pain and injuries.

If you strengthen your quadriceps and hamstring muscles, you can reduce pain. This makes it easier to stay mobile. Physical therapy is the best option for most. A physical therapist can create a personalized strengthening regimen. This will target weak muscles that cause your specific type of pain.

What are Hyaluronic Acid Injections?

Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in the body. For those with normal, healthy joints, the body produces plenty of hyaluronic acid to lubricate the joints. However, for those with osteoarthritis, there is not enough hyaluronic acid. Some doctors recommend injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee to supplement the body’s natural production.

It can treat people with osteoarthritis. This may be a good option for people who have tried other non-invasive treatments for knee pain. 

Can Hyaluronic Acid Knee Injections help with Knee Pain?

Injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee is a simple procedure. It can be performed in the office. Your doctor will inject the hyaluronic acid directly into the area around the joint. Many patients will require more than one injection to treat knee pain. The amount of injections needed depends on the type of hyaluronan preparation used and the severity of the pain. Many people receive one injection per week for anywhere from three to five weeks.

In the event your treatment was effective, some may see positive results within a few days. Many will need more than one injection to eliminate the pain. After a successful course of treatment, relief may last for several months. This is one of the only FDA-approved treatments for people who have osteoarthritis in the knee.

TAKE ACTION

The most critical step on the path to recovery is finding a pain management doctor who can address your pain management needs successfully. The Pain Relief Center and its five specialized institutes are dedicated to meeting any and all of a patient’s needs. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dr. Rodriguez and his friendly staff will help you along the path to recovery.

Our new center in Dallas is part of a nationwide development by Pain Relief Centers, geared to providing individualized and comprehensive healing and pain management services with unprecedented levels of compassion, care, and comfort for each patient.

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