Knee pains and aches can come from all sorts of underlying problems. Anything from how you walk, run, the time you fell off your skateboard or bike as a kid, to being overweight. It can turn into medical conditions resulting in arthritis, gout, and infections. Injuries that turn into a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. The list is almost endless, but it’s a very common problem to have among most adults. However, more often than not, it does not have to be a lifelong condition. The first step you can take to walk off that knee pain to understand where it originates from in the first place. This will need a professional to examine you like our doctors here at Valley Medical Center.
Understanding The Knee
Your knee is a heavily used weight-bearing joint, so it takes quite the beating compared to any other part of the body. All joints have some form of normal wear and tear over time, but the knee is also affected by the force of gravity. This additional force compounds any excess weight the person may be carrying. Also, unlike other joints, the knee isn’t a ball and socket joint like your shoulder or hip. So, it has a pretty limited range of motion, hence why you can’t (or shouldn’t) move it forward or in circles.
The knee meets together three different bones – the tibia, femur, and patella, or otherwise known as the lower leg bone, the thigh bone, and the kneecap. The tibia and femur are wrapped with articular cartilage, which is what allows them to glide smoothly together. On the underside of the patella (kneecap), there is also cartilage and two more pads of cartilage which are called menisci which sit between the femur and tibia as shock absorbers.
Common Knee Injuries
So, with all of those bones, cartilage, and tissue connecting in a very unique way compared to the rest of the joints in the body – there’s a lot of potential for something to go wrong. Knee injuries are often associated with instability, limited range of motion, and the inability to handle the weight on it. Each knee injury will be treated differently depending on where the damage originated from.
This occurs when there is wear-and-tear damage done to the articular cartilage. Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in the knee and is a common form of arthritis. Over time, osteoarthritis will affect the cartilage that wraps the ends of bones resulting in it breaking down. Eventually, the articular cartilage will ultimately wear away, only leaving bones that grind against each other, which is very painful.
Menisci are made of crescent-shaped pads of cartilage. It acts as the shock absorbers and secondary stabilizers for the knee. Due to age, weight, or injury, these tissues can become frayed and torn. The tears can feel painful and end up causing instability within the knee. It becomes difficult to heal if there’s a lack of blood supply to most meniscus as they make tears.
This is the most often damaged ligament that happens in the knee. Its primary responsibility is to keep the tibia from sliding out in front of the kneecap. It also keeps the knee together during rotational movement and serves as one of the prime stabilizers of the knee.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and Chondromalacia
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or more commonly known as runner’s or jumper’s knee, is a condition that causes pain in the knee. Chondromalacia, sometimes called runner’s knee, is a similar condition that can cause patellofemoral pain syndrome. Chondromalacia will occur when cartilage located on the patella’s underside starts to wear away, most often due to misalignment of the knee joint.
Valley Medical Sports Medicine
If you’re having any knee pains or know it was from an injury, come by our office. We can help examine and diagnose the cause and create a treatment plan. Not every knee injury is sports-related, but the treatments are often the same we provide professional athletes with when they occur. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment or come in as a walk-in patient to get started on a smoother, better recovery with our sports medicine examinations.