Knee pain is common. So common, in fact, that it affects one in four adults, sometimes to the point where they have trouble completing daily tasks. Athletes are especially susceptible to knee pain.
The most common cause of knee pain varies depending on your age and activity level. If you're a pro or amateur athlete, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are at the top of the list. If you’re older, you’re more likely to have knee osteoarthritis.
At Neuropathy and Pain Centers of Texas in Fort Worth, Arlington, Waco, and Arlington, Texas, our expert medical professionals diagnose knee pain and then customize a drug-free pain treatment plan. We emphasize nonsurgical, supportive therapies that help your knee heal and function as it should. Following are five of the most common causes of knee pain.
1. Ligament stretches and tears
The four major ligaments of your knee are each vulnerable to damage, yet the ACL is the most frequently injured. The ACL is the only ligament that runs through the center of the joint. Its job is to prevent excessive joint rotation. As a result, ACL injuries happen when you make certain movements, such as:
- Making a sudden stop while running
- Pivoting or sidestepping
- Quickly changing directions
- Landing a jump incorrectly
- Overextending your knee
When you suffer an ACL injury, other parts of your knee often become damaged, too. In fact, half of patients treated for an ACL injury also have a meniscal tear or damage to other ligaments.
In addition to the ACL, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and two collateral ligaments can also get damaged and cause pain. These ligaments develop tears when you suffer a direct blow to the front, outside, or inside of the knee. Such injuries usually occur during contact sports.
2. Tears in a meniscus
The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage on top of your shinbone; each knee has two. These crucial structures stabilize your knee and absorb shock.
During sports, especially, the meniscus usually sustains damage during twisting movements. However, you can also injure a meniscus when making the same movements that cause an ACL tear.
In addition, as with the articular cartilage that covers the ends of bones, the meniscus slowly degenerates over the years. Older adults can even tear the meniscus during normal daily movements.
Your knee supports your upper body weight and absorbs shock when your foot hits the ground. This combined effect takes a toll on the articular cartilage, which gradually breaks down, exposing the underlying bone instead of protecting it.
When you suffer a ligament injury, meniscal tear, or traumatic knee injury, the damage increases your risk of developing post-traumatic arthritis. This type of osteoarthritis develops faster due to the initial joint damage.
4. Tendon stretches and tears
Running and jumping activities can injure the tendons in your knees.The patellar tendon connects your shinbone to the kneecap. The quadricep tendon attaches the knee to the muscles in the front of your thigh.
If the force is strong enough, you could even tear the tendon. You may, for example, suffer a tear after taking a hit to the knee or landing in the wrong position after jumping.
Knee pain is especially acute when the patellar tendon becomes inflamed. An inflamed patellar tendon is known as patellar tendonitis or jumper's knee. If your sport or activity demands frequent jumping, it could cause repeated stress and inflammation. Your tendon may weaken and tear if you don't give it time to heal.
5. Fractures and dislocations
A high-energy trauma, such as a sports injury (i.e., direct hit or sudden turn or twist), car accident, or fall, could fracture or dislocate bones in your knees. These are serious injuries, no matter what causes them.
If your kneecap is fractured, it may break into pieces that move out of place and require reconstructive surgery. Also if your knee suffers a dislocation, special care is required to prevent chronic knee instability.
At Neuropathy and Pain Centers of Texas, you receive comprehensive care for all types of knee pain. We create customized care plans that begin with the most conservative treatments, such as:
- Physical therapy
- Hyalgan Joint Therapy
- Class 4 Deep Tissue Laser Therapy
If your knee pain doesn't improve, call or book an appointment online today at the location nearest you. We have offices in Fort Worth, Arlington, Waco, and Arlington, Texas.