Knee pain can be debilitating, but there are ways to treat it so you can become pain-free once again. You just need to know the underlying cause before you can get treatment for your discomfort. So take a look at the most common causes of knee pain, along with some effective treatment options that can get you on the road to recovery.
Your knee contains a firm, flexible type of cartilage called a meniscus. When you injure this part of your knee, it’s called a meniscus tear. This is one of the most common types of knee injuries, especially among athletes who play sports like football, soccer, volleyball or any activity that requires you to quickly switch directions while running.
The symptoms of a meniscus tear include a pop when the injury occurs, followed by knee pain, swelling and difficulty either straightening or bending the leg. While a small meniscus tear may heal on its own with the help of some rest, ice and an elastic bandage, more severe tears often require knee surgery.
Aside from cartilage, your knee also contains ligaments that connect the thigh bone to the bones in the lower leg. It’s common for athletes to tear or sprain the ligaments, especially the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. This is another knee injury that may occur when you suddenly switch directions while running, which is why you might often hear about ACL injuries among famous football and basketball players.
Like the meniscus tear, you might notice a pop when you injure a ligament in your knee. It may be followed by pain, swelling, limited mobility and the inability to put any weight on it. The most important step for treating this knee injury is to let the area rest, along with applying ice to it and supporting it with an elastic bandage. Many people end up also needing either physical therapy or surgery to repair the ligament.
There are a few types of arthritis that affect the knee. The most common type is osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage in the knee is gradually worn down. This can lead to knee pain, swelling, stiffness and limited mobility. Another type is rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of the tissue near the joint. Post-traumatic arthritis is also a common cause of knee pain, and it occurs after you’ve injured your knee in some way and damaged the cartilage.
The symptoms of arthritis can make the knee swell, hurt, and feel stiff and hard to move. The treatment for this cause of knee pain depends on the type of arthritis and symptoms that are present. But it generally includes medication to reduce inflammation and pain, the use of knee braces and bandages, physical therapy, or surgery.
If you were in a car accident, experienced a fall or had some other type of trauma done to your body, it’s possible that your knee pain is caused by a fracture of the knee bones. If the pain is severe and you cannot walk, you should talk to your doctor to find out if you’ve broken a bone in the knee, such as your kneecap.
If it turns out your knee is fractured, you will likely need a cast and crutches so the bone can heal over time. Eventually you should be able to get the cast off and start using a knee brace or compression sleeve to support the area when you walk.
In fact, you can often reduce knee pain of any kind by providing extra support with a knee strap or compression sleeve any time you plan to be active. Fortunately, there are lots of products on the market that can relieve your knee pain. Your doctor can advise you before you choose the right one.
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