Although you may not consciously realize it, your knees are some of the most important load-bearing joints in your body. In fact, they are quite special. As an article in the Journal of Engineering in Medicine states, the soft tissues are the primary stabilizing factor, cushioning impact stress from directly affecting the articular surfaces. Unfortunately, these same soft tissues are prone to injury as well as the natural wear and tear that accompanies aging. The result is that knee pain is a common complaint that appears more frequently as a generation ages.
Due to the number of soft tissues and hard surfaces that make up the knee joint, there are a number of potential issues that could lead you to experience discomfort or pain while performing specific activities. According to Medical News Today’s professionally reviewed article, some of the most common causes of knee pain are:
- Damage to the ligaments (ACL or meniscus)
- Tears in the cartilage
- Degenerative Tissue diseases (usually forms of arthritis)
Although the list of potential conditions is rather long, most of these conditions can be directly related to one of three causes: excessive weight gain, sports or occupational injury, and aging. The one major exception is, of course, the development of a tumor, but this is a fairly uncommon cause of knee pain in comparison to the others. Fortunately, in two of these four cases, there are definitive actions you can take to prevent injury and reduce any existing pain.
- Excessive Weight Gain:
One article, published by the scientific journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, estimates that our knees have to absorb an additional 4 pound of pressure for every excess pound of weight we gain. Given that the knee joint already relies on soft tissues for support, most of our bodies are not equipped to deal with excessive weight bearing for a long period of time.
The result is that the soft tissues are put under additional strain, opening up the possibility of injury and slowly degrading the integrity of the joint as a whole. Fortunately, losing any excess weight can relieve your joints of the additional pressure, halting developing conditions.
- Sports/Occupational Injury:
If you regularly participate in activities that require rapid directional changes or work in an industry that requires heavy lifting, then you’re probably already aware of your increased risk of knee injury. Fortunately, you can take certain steps to reduce your risk. The Mayo Clinic suggests maintaining an adequate muscle mass and flexibility in the muscle groups that support the structure of the knee.
In addition, high risk groups should repeatedly practice the movements that are most likely to cause ligament damage, perfecting their techniques to reduce risk. Safety gear, proper footwear, and support belts should also be worn when appropriate. Although these actions won’t guarantee that you’ll never injure your knees, they can dramatically decrease the likelihood.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you are experiencing knee pain or limited range of motion, then My Concierge MD will want to start with a basic physical with particular focus on your knees. The physical typically includes an initial inspection, where your doctor will evaluate the knee for possible swelling or redness, as well as palpation and a range of motion test. The latter portions of the examination are used to locate the precise origin of your pain and evaluate how the injury has affected your ability to bend your knees normally.
From there, you can expect your physician at My Concierge to perform several specialized tests designed to rule out specific conditions before graduating to imaging. Johns Hopkins typically suggests an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, arthroscopy, radionuclide, and/or bone scan depending on your physician’s evaluation of your apparent condition. These imaging tests will be used to definitively diagnose your condition and start an individual treatment plan.