An ailment that can affect people young and old is knee pain. We normally associate knee pain with seniors struggling to balance to get on their feet saying, “Oh, my knees, my knees!”.
The younger generation normally get knee pain related to sports injuries like torn cartilage or ruptured ligaments, a result of them pushing themselves too hard too fast.
Seniors are found to normally get knee pain related to medical conditions like gout, arthritis, injuries and infections.
However, all these common ailments are not limited to one generation, i.e., gout can affect either the younger or older generation.
There are many types of knee pains, some of which can be treated with self-care and home remedies. The use of knee supports helps with mobility, though using them for extended periods of time may affect blood circulation.
On the other hand, severe knee pain will require the attention of a medical practitioner who will have to make a diagnosis that may include medication (normally NSAIDS) to reduce inflammation, swelling and stiffness, a series of physiotherapy sessions, or surgery for worst case scenarios.
NSAIDS is an acronym for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The common symptoms that accompany knee pain that we should look out for are:
- Knee weakness / instability
- Stiffness and swelling (redness)
- Knee feels warm – sign of inflammation
- Popping sounds or crunching at knee joints
- Difficulty to fully straighten the knee
When to see a doctor
- When you cannot bear weight on your knees
- You have difficulty getting onto your feet
- Your knees are swollen, reddish and you feel feverish
- If your knees buckle (give out) when you try to stand
- If you fell and landed on your knees
Knee injuries basically affect the tendons, ligaments, and bursae which are sacs which contain synovial fluid surrounding knee joints.
Common knee injuries include:
Fractures – when the knee cap or knee bones are broken during falls, collisions, or osteoporosis. People having severe osteoporosis can suffer knee fractures just by moving wrongly, as their bones are brittle.
ACL injury – commonly happens in people who participate in fast moving sports like basketball, squash, football, etc. An ACL injury happens when the ligament that connecting your shin bone to your thigh bone tears.
Bursitis – caused when the small sacs of synovial liquid, bursae, surrounding the knee become inflamed.
Torn meniscus – pain during knee movement, as the meniscus is a cartilage which acts as a shock absorber between the shin bone and the thigh bone.
Tendinitis – inflammation of the tendons normally affecting those doing endurance sports like marathons, cycling. etc.
Common mechanical problems known to cause knee pain are:
Bone or cartilage fragments floating at the knee joint space. These bits normally do not cause pain unless a bit gets stuck during a knee movement.
Patella dislocation – better known as the kneecap, the patella can slip to the outside of the knee.
IT Band Syndrome – the iliotibial band runs from the outside of the hip to the inside of the knee. When it becomes tight, it runs against the outer part of the femur and causes pain. This is commonly seen in long distance runners and cyclists who keep repeating limited movements.
Hip or foot pain – you may decide to change the way you walk to reduce the pain in these two areas. Doing so however places more stress on the knee joints.
Arthritis – osteoarthritis arthritis normally happens with age, with the wear and tear of the bones. The more severe rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition whereby your immune system turns on your own body.
Septic arthritis – swelling, redness and pain in the knee joint, accompanied by fever. Seek medical advice immediately if you have these symptoms as septic arthritis can cause extensive irreparable damage to your knee cartilage very quickly.
Gout – a form of arthritis that happens with uric acid crystals build up in the joints. Normally the big toe is affected, but gout can also attack the knee.
Pseudogout – caused by crystals containing calcium that are formed in joint fluid, and is often mistaken for gout. Pseudogout normally affects the knees.
Knee pain can be attributed to the following risk factors:
Being overweight – this increases stress placed on your knee joints even doing daily activities like walking, and puts you at risk for osteoarthritis, as well as other medical conditions like cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes.
Previous injury – a previous injury makes it more likely to suffer a similar injury or injuries in the future.
Sports that place repetitive stress on knees – long distance running, jumping, contact sports like football or basketball, HIIT, etc., can increase knee injury.
Decrease in muscle flexibility – having strong and flexible muscles will improve stability, protect your joints, and give you a better range of motion. Flexibility and strength exercises done at your own pace do help here.
Occupation hazards – working in the agricultural or construction industries where heavy loads need to be carried, place stress on the knees. Ensure your employer provides equipment like trolleys or carts to move heavy items.
As we know, a lot of knee pain is bearable. However, some knee pain associated with medical conditions like arthritis can increase pain, wear down the joints and many even leave you disabled if not treated in the early stage.
Some early preventive measures to take mainly to reduce stress on your knees are:
Maintaining a healthy weight – be mindful about what you eat.
Daily exercise – technique is very important. If you have arthritis, do low impact exercises instead.
Stay active – being a couch potato does nothing for your muscles, flexibility and overall health.
21st May 18:40