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When Life Is a Pain in the Knee

Man with strong athletic legs holding knee with his hands in pain. Injury during a running workout training on running track.

There is an old saying, “You never miss the water, ‘till the well runs dry.” It can be applied to many things in life, including knee pain. You can have pain in a number of different areas in your body and keep going, in many cases. When it comes to knee pain and your mobility is compromised, you suddenly realize the importance of keeping your joints healthy and protected.

Causes of Knee Pain

Getting injured on the playing field is one cause of knee pain, but the most common cause is probably osteoarthritis. Wear and tear on the knee joints often result in pain over time. Injuries to the knee like ACL or meniscus tears and ligament injuries occur when the joint is twisted abruptly. Mechanical factors can also cause knee pain.

When your knee is injured, you know you should have it examined. Often, the pain is sudden and can be quite severe. Icing the knee to keep swelling down is helpful, but a thorough examination of the injury should be conducted to pinpoint the cause of the pain. Some structure inside the knee joint may need repair.

Arthritis Pain

There are several types of arthritis that can also cause knee pain. Over 100 types of arthritis have been identified. Of those, the knee is most likely to be affected by:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Pseudogout
  • Septic arthritis

Most commonly, knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis. Cartilage begins to wear out with use and aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. This type of arthritis is the most debilitating and can affect any joint in the body. It is a chronic condition that varies in severity and will come and go for some individuals.

Gout is also a type of arthritis. Uric acid crystals build up in the joint, causing swelling and pain. Gout usually affects the big toe; however, it can also affect the knee joints. Pseudogout is sometimes mistaken for gout; however, this condition attacks the knees, and it is caused by crystals which contain calcium. These crystals develop in the joint fluid similarly to uric acid crystals and cause pain and swelling.

Infection in the knee joint can also lead to swelling, pain and redness. When septic arthritis is to blame, fever often accompanies the pain. This condition can go bad very quickly, with extensive damage to knee cartilage if not treated immediately.

Mechanical Problems

In addition to pain caused by arthritis and injury, mechanical issues can also make your knee hurt. There are a few that are relatively common:

  • Dislocated kneecap – The patella, a small triangular bone, covers the front of the knee. When this bone slips out of place, you can feel the pain. In some instances, you may be able to see its dislocation if it remains out of place.
  • Hip or foot pain – When you feel pain in one area of your body, you often make adjustments in other parts to relieve it. Hip or foot pain can change the way you walk, adding stress to your knee joint.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome – Distance runners and cyclists are susceptible to this problem involving the band of tissue that extends from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee. When this becomes tight enough, it will rub against the outer portion of the femur bone, causing pain.
  • Loose body – Occasionally, an individual will experience a piece of bone or cartilage floating in the joint space. You may not feel any pain unless the piece interferes with knee joint movement.

Identifying the Cause

It is important to find out the source of your knee pain and get started with treatment. Neglecting care can lead to more serious problems and affect your mobility. At Silicon Valley Orthopaedics, we are committed to providing our patients with care for long-lasting and stable joint health. Call today to schedule an appointment for consultation.

Posted on behalf of Silicon Valley Orthopaedics

39180 Farwell Dr., Suite 110
Fremont, CA 94538

Phone: (650) 379-4616

Fax: (510) 739-6522

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Mon - Fri 8:00AM – 5PM

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Fremont Office

39180 Farwell Dr., Suite 110
Fremont, CA 94538

Foster City Office

1241 E. Hillsdale Blvd, Suite 210
Foster City, CA 94404

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Mon - Fri 8:00AM – 5PM