Conditions such as osteoarthritis or OA (the most common type of arthritis in the UK) can cause severe pain in our joints particularly our knees.
What causes chronic knee pain?
There are many diseases and physical conditions that lead to knee pain:
- Osteoarthritis – Discomfort, pain, swelling, tenderness, and joint damage caused by degeneration and deterioration of the joint
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – A long term chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes uncomfortable painful swelling, it can eventually cause joint deformity and usually affect the hands, wrists and feet.
- Torn ligament – There are four ligaments in the knee ACL, PCL, LCL and MCL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Posterior Cruciate Ligament, Lateral Collateral Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament) a tear in one of these ligaments. The ACL is the ligament that is injured most often.
- Chondromalacia patella – Also known as CMP is damaged or inflamed cartilage under the kneecap.
- Baker’s cyst – Or popliteal cyst is an accumulation of synovial fluid (lubricates joints) at the back of the knee.
- Dislocation – Dislocation of the kneecap is most often the result of sudden trauma of the joint such as an impact or fall.
- Bursitis – A bursa is a fluid filled sac that appears under the skin but over joints filling spaces between bones and tendons. Inflammation occurs by repeated overuse or injury of the knee
- Meniscal tear – There are two menisci in each knee joint, a meniscal tear occurs if one or more have been ruptured during activities that puts pressure on or rotates the knee joint.
- Gout – Is a type of arthritis caused by storing of excess uric acid in the knee joint
- Tendinitis – Is inflammation of a tendon, pain in the front of the knee that can occur from activities that involve sharp sudden movements.
Factors that may aggravate chronic knee pain
- Strains and sprains
- Overuse of the knee joint
- If not treated correctly damage to the structure of the knee can cause oedema and bleeding which can create a long term persistent problem
- Illness and infection
- Poor posture particularly when partaking in exercise or sport
- not warming up or cooling down fully if at all before activity
Diagnosing chronic pain
There are quite a few ways to diagnose chronic knee pain each condition comes with its own set of tests they can include:
- MRI scan
- Physical examination
- CT scan
Treating chronic knee pain
When suffering with knee pain your knees may become stiff, occasionally lock or feel like they want to give way. Chronic knee pain tends to affect older people but can affect younger, overweight individuals.
You should contact your GP or clinician if you think you have chronic. They may offer helpful advice and treatment such as:
- Wearing an appropriate knee brace
- Losing weight
- Using walking aids
- Use of painkillers and medication
- Wearing more suitable footwear
Can chronic knee pain be prevented?
Unfortunately, chronic knee pain cannot be prevented, however there are steps you can take to assist in alleviating some pain:
- Lose weight – Less stress and burden on our joints can reduce pain due to less pressure being exerted on our knee joints.
- Warm up & Cool down – By performing appropriates stretches and exercise pre and post workout you can minimise damage and injury to the knee joints.
- Low impact activities – Mix up your usual workout routine by introducing some low impact Sports and exercises – Such as swimming to give your knees a rest.
- Supports – Invest in some good shoe inserts that can help correct any gait issues that could be affecting your knees.
- Shoes – Review your trainers frequently to ensure they are providing the correct amount of support while you exercise.
Our joints take a lot of stress and strain over time particularly if we are heavier than we should be. We only have one set of knees so it is important that we look after them.
For more information on knee pain please visit NHS website.