Knee Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
If you’re like most people, you don’t think about how hard your knees work every day—until they don’t.
When knee pain limits your activities, impacts your mobility, or even keeps you sedentary, you may start to feel frustrated or worried. Fortunately, you’re far from alone: knee pain affects around 25% of adults, with many starting a desperate hunt for solutions to avoid surgery.
That’s where a specialist in pain care comes in. Our Orem pain clinic treats a wide variety of knee issues, allowing patients to get back on their feet without resorting to drastic solutions. Check out our quick knee pain guide for insights on what’s causing your pain, the diagnosis process, and your treatment options.
Common Knee Pain Causes
There are a variety of common causes when it comes to knee pain.
As one of the least stable joints in the human body, the knees are vulnerable to overuse injuries as well as instability. The complex structure of muscle, bone, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments must function in perfect order to keep the knees working smoothly. Due to the complexity of this joint, it’s crucial to reach out to Utah pain specialists for help.
Here are the most common causes of knee pain:
Injuries are the top cause of knee pain. You may suffer either an acute injury—often a fall or an impact, and often with a feel of “popping” or “tearing”—or an injury due to chronic overuse. The latter can be harder to spot, making them a subtle threat for sports enthusiasts as well as anyone performing repetitive activities such as lifting heavy objects.
Knee injuries can be divided into a few categories:
- Tendonitis: This occurs when the tendons become inflamed and painful, but it can also happen as the result of a torn tendon
- Ligament stress or injury: These injuries happen after a direct impact or twist to either the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Broken bone: After a direct impact or fall, the patella—or “kneecap”—can break, causing a great deal of pain
- Cartilage injury: If the cartilage of the kneecap becomes soft, often with overuse, it may become torn
If you’re experiencing knee pain, the source may be one of these common culprits, or it may be a complex combination of one or more of them.
Also known as runner’s knee, this type of pain tends to be connected to biomechanics rather than any physical damage to the body. More often than not, patellofemoral pain happens with overuse, and the most common way to address it is through physical therapy and pain management.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage of the knee wears away. Several types of arthritis, including both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, can affect the knees. Though they’re more likely to be the cause of pain for older adults, it’s an important concern to rule out for younger patients as well.
Knee Pain Diagnosis
Because the causes of knee pain can be incredibly varied, it’s important to get help from an expert rather than trying to self-diagnose.
You should always see a doctor if you’ve suffered a major knee injury, if you have difficulty moving or putting weight on your knee, or if your knee pain hasn’t gone away with a few weeks of rest. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a physical exam and scans—most often X-rays or MRIs—to help them confirm your diagnosis and direct you toward specialized treatment.
Knee Pain Treatment
Once you have a diagnosis, it’s important to understand how to manage your symptoms and rebuild strength. Keep in mind that the treatment methods will always vary according to your diagnosis, making it important to follow the instructions of your medical team.
However, there are a few general treatment options that will benefit the majority of knee pain cases. Note that most of these treatment options work well in conjunction with each other, allowing you to ease pain while regaining mobility.
In the early days of a knee injury, or for other types of severe knee pain, painkillers can help bring down your pain and inflammation. Using the RICE method—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—is also a smart move.
For long-term healing and pain relief, Acousana therapy can work wonders. Because this option increases blood flow and circulation to the affected muscles, tendons, and bones of the knee, it can help to eliminate both acute and chronic pain. For patients who wish to avoid opioid pain medication and even surgery, this patented therapy is of critical importance.
When knee pain is the result of muscle imbalances or repetitive stress, physical therapy can help you keep the pain at bay for good. Joined with the pain reduction techniques above, physical therapy can help you identify necessary lifestyle changes and show you which movements to avoid in the future.
Depending on the source of your knee pain, your doctor may recommend surgery as a solution. This decision isn’t one to take lightly, and it’s only worth trying if you’ve exhausted all other options. In the vast majority of cases, the pain relief treatments above will be enough to help patients minimize or eliminate their pain.
Visit a Specialist in Pain Care
Dealing with knee pain can be scary on your own, especially when you’re not sure of the cause. Even worse, inflammation or persistent pain can make you feel like you may never walk with as much ease as you used to.
Fortunately, you don’t have to face this alone, and visiting a specialist in pain care can help.
At our pain clinic in Utah, we pride ourselves on helping patients through a range of aches, pains, and injuries—including acute and chronic knee pain. Don’t struggle with this condition on your own! Contact us today to learn how our Orem pain relief clinic can help.
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