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Understanding Knee Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and When to Seek Help

Knee pain is a common complaint that can affect people of all ages, from athletes to individuals leading sedentary lifestyles. It can be caused by various factors, ranging from injuries to underlying medical conditions.

Understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing when to seek medical help are essential for managing knee pain effectively and maintaining optimal joint health.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

  • Injuries: Knee injuries, such as ligament sprains, strains, and tears, are common culprits of knee pain. These injuries can occur during sports activities, accidents, or even simple movements.
  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that results from the breakdown of the protective cartilage in the knee joint. It causes pain, swelling, and reduced joint function.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the synovial lining of the knee joint. It leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: This condition, often referred to as “runner’s knee,” involves pain around the front of the knee, where the kneecap (patella) meets the thigh bone (femur).
  • Meniscus Tears: The menisci are cartilage pads that cushion the knee joint. Tears in these pads can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement.
  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis occurs when the tendons that attach muscles to bones become inflamed. It can result from overuse or repetitive motions.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that cushion and reduce friction in the knee joint.

Recognizing Symptoms of Knee Pain

The symptoms of knee pain can vary depending on the underlying cause, but some common signs to watch for include:

  • Pain that ranges from mild to severe
  • Swelling and inflammation around the knee joint
  • Stiffness, especially after periods of inactivity
  • Clicking or popping sounds during movement
  • Limited range of motion
  • Weakness or instability in the knee
  • Redness or warmth around the knee joint
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg

When to Seek Professional Help

It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or worsening knee pain, especially if it’s affecting your daily activities.

Here are some situations in which you should consider seeking professional help:

  • Severe Pain: If your knee pain is severe and interfering with your ability to walk, stand, or perform routine tasks, consult a medical professional.
  • Inability to Bear Weight: If you can’t put weight on the affected leg without significant pain, it’s advisable to seek medical assistance.
  • Sudden Swelling: If your knee suddenly swells and becomes red or warm to the touch, it could indicate an injury or infection that requires prompt evaluation.
  • Persistent Pain: If your knee pain persists for several days or weeks, even with rest and at-home remedies, it’s wise to consult a healthcare provider.
  • History of Injury: If you’ve had a recent injury to your knee, it’s essential to have it assessed by a medical professional to rule out any serious damage.
  • Limited Range of Motion: If you notice a significant reduction in your knee’s range of motion or experience joint locking, it’s recommended to consult a specialist.
  • Fever or Infection Signs: If you develop a fever along with knee pain, it could indicate an infection that requires medical attention.

Treatment and Management

The treatment and management of knee pain depend on its underlying cause.

Treatment options may include:

  • Rest and Ice: Resting the knee and applying ice can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy exercises can improve knee strength, flexibility, and stability.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • Bracing: Supportive braces or wraps can provide stability and reduce strain on the knee.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections can offer temporary pain relief for inflamed knee joints.
  • Surgery: In cases of severe damage or chronic pain, surgical interventions such as arthroscopy or joint replacement may be considered.

By paying attention to your body and seeking professional help when necessary, you can address knee pain before it worsens and maintain optimal joint health.

If you or a loved one are suffering from knee pain in Washington, MO call us today at (636) 239-5252 to schedule a free consultation.