The knee is the biggest joint in the body and is composed of cartilage, meniscus tissue, ligaments, tendons and many muscles acting to move the joint. All these structures can be injured or cause pain, some are more common than others and some are more likely to be injured through trauma, overuse or a disease process.
Common Causes of Knee Joint Pain?
The meniscus is a type of cartilage that provides shock absorption and smoother motion. They’re wedge-shaped and rest between the upper and lower bones of your knee joint. A tear can happen when you twist or change direction while weight bearing. Pain may get worse when you straighten your knee or weight bear and you may notice some swelling and locking out of the knee. A partial tear may heal with time and rehab but a complete tear may require surgery.
Ligaments are strong structures that connect bone to bone, supporting a joint. The cruciate ligaments (anterior and posterior) connect your thigh bone to your shinbone, resisting anterior and posterior motion between the two bones. The collateral ligaments are on the inside and outside part of your knees, which support the knee from forces that would bring the knee inwards and outwards. A sudden twist or blow to your knee can stretch or tear a ligament. You might hear a popping sound and feel your knee give way, followed by pain and swelling.
These structures are often injured at the same time and can also be injured through wear and tear, not just with trauma.
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee pain, especially in the older population. It develops when the cartilage in your knee joint wears down over time, which can cause inflammation, swelling and pain. Treatment can include weight loss, manual therapy, resistance training and knee support.
What To Do?
It is advisable to see a GP, Chiropractor or other allied health professional if you are suffering from any knee pain, particularly if:
- You’re in severe pain.
- Your painful knee is swollen.
- It doesn’t get better after a few weeks.
- You can’t move your knee.
- You can’t put any weight on your knee.
- Your knee locks, clicks painfully or gives way – painless clicking is not unusual and is nothing to worry about.
Each injury and person would be management differently, though here are some general guidelines:
- Keep it moving. This may involve simply moving your knee gently to full range of motion for 30 to 60 seconds every hour. This would depend on what you can tolerate.
- Progressively load into movements such as squatting, starting with bodyweight only.
- Low-impact exercise, such as cycling and swimming, can be useful when recovering from a knee injury.
- Progress back to full capacity over weeks and months.
- A Chiropractor here at Bolt Chiropractic or another allied health professional can provide a rehab plan and supportive treatment for improved outcomes.