Knee Pain: Your Questions Answered
How did you get to work today? Driving, cycling, running for the bus, standing on the train…it all involves your knee.
When your knee hurts, it has a big impact on your movements. So, what’s going on and what can you do about it?
Your knee’s job
Your knee is a large, complex joint that connects your thigh bones to your shin. Your knee is supported by ligaments that keep your bones in their proper place and tendons that connect your bones to the leg muscles that move your knee joint. The cartilage in your knee absorbs shock while various fluid-filled bursae (little sacs) help your knee move smoothly.
As you can see, there’s a lot going on in there!
What are the symptoms of knee pain?
Knee pain symptoms will vary depending on what’s causing the problem. You knee may feel:
You may find that you can’t fully straighten it anymore. You may also hear a popping or crunching noise when you move.
What causes knee pain and swelling?
If you’re injured, your body responds by increasing blood flow to the area, sending an army of white blood cells, plasma proteins and fluid to fight infection and promote healing. The result is redness, swelling and pain – a sign that your body is responding to the injury. Ideally, you want to work with this process, not against it.
Many conditions can cause knee pain and swelling. Common culprits include:
Your knee gets used constantly. Every time you walk, run, jump, kick, pivot or cycle, you’re relying on your knee. That’s why knee injuries are so common.
- ACL – your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that join your thigh to your shin. Your ACL may tear in sports like soccer or basketball that require sudden changes in direction.
- Fracture – the bones in your knee may fracture during a fall or a car accident.
- Meniscus tear – the cartilage in your knee may tear if you twist your knee suddenly while putting weight on it.
The bursa (little fluid-filled sacs) in your knee may become inflamed or infected, causing swelling and pain.
3. Patellar tendinitis
Your patella tendon, which runs from your kneecap to your shinbone, may be injured during running, skiing, cycling or jumping. are thick, fibrous bands that connect muscles to bone.
4. ITB syndrome
Sports like long-distance running or cycling may tighten the iliotibial band that runs from your knee to your hip.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout or septic arthritis may all cause knee pain.
If you’re overweight, your joints are always under the strain of those extra kilos. That can result in knee pain.
Can knee pain relate to back pain?
Yes. The nerves that drive the muscles in your knees originate in your back. If a nerve in your lower back becomes irritated or damaged, you may feel the pain in your knee, even though the real problem is in your back. That’s known as referred pain.
To learn more, read our blog on Is your back causing your knee pain?
Why does my knee hurt after running?
Runner’s knee causes a dull ache around the kneecap (patella), especially just above your knee. It can be caused by strained tendons, worn cartilage or inflamed soft tissues. Any activity that repeatedly stresses your knee may cause runner’s knee.
Why do I have knee pain at night?
Your knee shouldn’t keep you up at night. If you’re struggling to sleep due to knee pain, it may be due to arthritis. You move less at night which means your knee is less lubricated, and you’re also less distracted, meaning you’re more likely to notice the soreness.
When is knee pain serious?
Ongoing pain in any part of your body should be taken seriously. If your knee is persistently limiting your activities then it’s wise to see a doctor or physiotherapist to investigate what’s going on.
Some knee pain is due to the development of an underlying condition like osteoarthritis, which will tend to get worse if it’s not treated. Knee pain due to injury also needs proper treatment to rehabilitate and strengthen the affected area to reduce the very real risk of reinjury.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help
If your knee is troubling you, we can help you understand what’s going on and recommend exercises to help relieve your symptoms and strengthen your body. Please come and see us.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.