Six causes of knee pain and what to do about it

Sore knees can prevent you from many activities. How can you fix them?

Knee pain

Whether it is just slowing you down or stopping you from doing the most basic of activities, knee pain can be debilitating and if left untreated can continue to get worse, leading to further restrictions in your movement.

There are a number of causes of knee pain, some are much more treatable than others, but there are actions you can take, no matter what is causing your suffering.

Arthritis

This is the most common cause of knee pain for older adults, whether it be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or post-trauma arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent among the three types of arthritis and is caused by the knee cartilage breaking down and wearing away. This occurs most often in people aged 65 and over and the condition can be genetic, but risk factors such as previous injury to the knee, weak thigh muscles and obesity can also play a role.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling or warmth in the joints and any pain usually lasts much longer than those suffering from osteoarthritis, where the condition is less painful once you have started using the joint.

Post-trauma arthritis develops after an injury to the knee such as a torn meniscus (the cartilage that cushions the knee joint) or dislocated knee cap. These injuries can cause instability and wear down the knee joint, leading to pain, swelling and fluid in the joint.

Osteonecrosis

The word literally means ‘bone death’ and is caused when a segment of bone loses its blood supply and starts to die. This condition affects women more frequently than men (around three times more likely in women according to the latest studies) and the knobby portion of the thighbone on the inside of the knee is most often the culprit. Pain is usually sudden and is triggered by a specific injury or minor injury.

Tendinitis

This is a condition that inflames the tendon (the tissue that connects muscles to bones). Older adults who run, ride or dance may be particularly prone to this type of knee pain as tendons get weaker and stiffer as we age. The condition, which causes pain just outside the joint, can also be inflamed by innocuous activities like gardening.

Bursitis

The bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and other moving parts. Kneeling for long periods of time on hard surfaces can cause this area to be become inflamed and cause pain.

Gout

While we often associate gout as being more of a foot problem, it can also manifest itself in the knee joint.  Gout is caused by the build-up of calcium urate crystals and can be extremely painful.

Torn cartilage or ligament damage

Any sports fan will know that tears in the anterior cruciate ligament or medial collateral ligament can be quite painful and extremely restrictive. These injuries are usually accompanied by a large popping sound and immediate pain and knee instability, making walking difficult. Either of these injuries will usually require a complete knee reconstruction.

Non-surgical treatments

While any structural damage, for example ligament damage, may require surgery, a lot of the other causes of knee pain can be treated effectively without going under the knife.

All surgery presents a certain level of risk and a recent Danish study suggested that people in their 50s who had arthroscopic surgery for knee pain showed no lasting benefits.

Some of the causes that result in inflammation can be treated with common anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen), the application of ice as well as rest to ease the condition.

You may also consider physical therapy of bracing or strapping the knee to provide support. It is important not to ignore the pain and consult your doctor about the best course of action, in order to prevent unnecessary wear and tear if a simpler solution can be found.

Have you ever suffered from knee pain? What did you do to combat the problem?

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    COMMENTS

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    jackie
    15th May 2017
    10:47am
    Yes, I currently am but it is only one knee. If the pain continues I will go to a doctor.
    BtL
    15th May 2017
    2:30pm
    It's also worth mentioning runner's knee which could be purely tight and/or week muscles (especially in older people) which a good physio can help fix with appropriate exercises (and no medication or surgical intervention).
    Fliss
    19th May 2017
    1:39pm
    100% agree with you BtL.
    Was amazed that it wasn't included in the article!!
    Misty
    15th May 2017
    3:03pm
    This could also be referred pain from hip problems too, also the Sciatica nerve.
    Yvonne
    15th May 2017
    4:51pm
    I have bi-lateral tears in the Meniscus of my left knee, from falls some years ago. Arthroscopy has been suggested to 'stitch' the tears and clean out the debris. Has anyone undergone this procedure and was it of any benefit? Yvonne
    DiPW
    15th May 2017
    7:38pm
    I have osteoarthritis in both knees and have found turmeric has helped control the pain, enormously. It can be used in cooking, or capsule form. My mother and husband use it too and have also benefited with greatly reduced pain and greater mobility.
    Yvonne
    16th May 2017
    8:12am
    Turmeric is great, I too use it in both forms!
    Misty
    16th May 2017
    10:10am
    Do any of you using Tumeric suffer side affects?
    Fliss
    19th May 2017
    1:42pm
    Yes Misty . . . . I LOVE the idea of turmeric & made fresh tabs with organic turmeric, black pepper & coconut oil.
    I am allergic! :( Came out in hives. :(
    Went to my naturopth who explained my allergy to me.
    My dogs are now benefiting from turmeric. ;)
    DiPW
    16th May 2017
    11:20am
    I've been using turmeric for about four years and so far the side affects have only been reduced pain and greatly improved mobility. I think, like everything, it's trial and error, to see what works for you, Misty.
    Yvonne
    16th May 2017
    4:01pm
    I agree DiPW, it is trial and error. No side effects other than the good it does...
    DiPW
    18th May 2017
    1:39pm
    It's the best, Yvonne! :)
    GeorgeM
    16th May 2017
    8:58pm
    This is a very basic summary.
    For Osteoarthritis, there are many other causes e.g. taking Statins for Cholesterol has severely affected some people, high dose (1,000mg/day or more) of Vit C causes deterioration of knee osteo (there was a study on guniea pigs in 2004 in Duke Univ, USA which conclusively proved it - it's on the internet with reported cases of benefits on stopping excess Vit C), Vegetable Oils are considered culprits as well, etc. Besides the standard treatments most of which don't help much (turmeric helps), PRP injections can be very useful, and I believe stem cell injections trials are very promising.
    Misty
    17th May 2017
    12:04am
    Guinea pigs are not human so until they have done those tests on humans I will regard those results with a grain of salt.
    GeorgeM
    17th May 2017
    12:45pm
    That's your opinion / choice, Misty, and I hope others don't get misled by your comments to ignore this research. Go check on Google if you want.

    The research (by Dr. Virginia Kraus) is quoted in many Medical sites, and the Online version is on internet. Dr' Kraus's article also makes the point "...guinea pig spontaneously develops knee OA whose manifestations are markedly similar to spontaneous knee OA in humans". I have directly come across one proven case of this in a person affected and then seeing the benefit of stopping the high-dosage Vitamin C, hence I shared this info.
    DiPW
    18th May 2017
    1:42pm
    Thanks for the research information, George!
    ROB
    12th Jun 2017
    6:25pm
    AN ANSWER FOR EVERYONE: During the last 3 months we have been attending to people with knee pain/loss of cartilage and with knee replacement/procedures due. ALL have been eased, even to the point now of cancelling the knee replacement/procedures using Non Transdermal patches working on invisible light to communicate with the body's energy system for a near immediate positive effect. We know there will be many that feel the traditional methods are the best but so many are now learning there are alternatives. The patches are low in cost, easy to apply (as easy as attaching a band aide), are safe for all ages, are extensively clinically trialed to prove their effectiveness. You may need two or four to start the relief but at a regular cost of around $5 or less each they are certainly worth the try. The patches create accelerated healing as soon as applied and mean a long term result for a very short time use.
    Misty
    12th Jun 2017
    7:29pm
    Rob where on earth can one get these patches?, I have never heard of them and would they be ok for hip and herniated disc pain as well, my sister is in agony with her back and has tried everything to no avail, pain patches, Cortisone injections, Panadol Forte but nothing works and at 86 the drs do not want to operate.
    ROB
    12th Jun 2017
    7:59pm
    Hi Misty, the best I can do is give you an email address. Hopefully the moderators will allow this? The patches are readily available in Australia through thousands of users and accepted by the TGA in Australia. These are the same patches used in hospitals in France and elsewhere about the would for pain relief. They are also used for disaster victims around the world, so are extremely effective for many pain issues. There is no charge for ongoing support in using these patches toward a successful result. Please ask the moderator for the email address if removed and we are sure they will assist? wellnessplus@adam.com.au
    Misty
    12th Jun 2017
    8:36pm
    Thanks Rob, I did Google them after I replied to you and the early reviews were not very good, as far back as 2004 some were, one site said to run a mile from Transdermal Patches but I don't know if any one commenting on those sites had actually used them themselves. One person was trying to track down the manufacturer but could only find the name and address of a distributor and said they were probably made in China, I am a bit dubious about buying made in China products as you can never be sure of how they are made and what is actually in them.
    ROB
    12th Jun 2017
    8:50pm
    Yes Misty, when first released in 2004 the people reporting on the patches "Felt" they could not work and therefore considered they would not work - how wrong they were. The patches for Europe, Australia and New Zealand are manufactured in Ireland and distributed from Melbourne for Australia and New Zealand. The patches contain a crystalline structure sealed in the patch (quite harmless) containing oxygen, amino acids and organics that react when placed near the body (they will even work well over bandages and clothing) and return frequencies into the body to create the desired effect. No drugs, chemicals or substances are actually induced into the body, hence the reason they are so safe for anyone of any age. There are now several hundred thousand organisations and individuals including many in the health industry now using the patches so they are widely recognised even if not so much in Australia at present. Rob
    Misty
    12th Jun 2017
    11:19pm
    Thanks so much for that information Rob I feel a lot more confident now about ordering the patches, you might just be a lifesaver with this info.
    Misty
    12th Jun 2017
    11:19pm
    Thanks so much for that information Rob I feel a lot more confident now about ordering the patches, you might just be a lifesaver with this info.


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