Knee pain is the most common complaint for people, especially among overweight and/or older adults. In the case of overweight people, the increased load-bearing that's needed for the knee joint can cause knee pain. In the case of older people, knee pain can be a result of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. In either case, the result is usually inflammation caused by joint aggravation. Inflammation is what causes joint pain. Swollen tissue presses against nerve endings, causing the sensation of pain. Accompanying the inflammation is stiffness and local tenderness at the joint.
The management of acute or chronic knee pain entails the acronym PRICE:
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be used to manage knee inflammation and pain (e.g., Aleve, Advil, Motrin). In addition, Tylenol can be used to control knee pain although it is not as effective in reducing inflammation.
Set up an appointment with a doctor or orthopedist if PRICE and OTC medications fail to lessen knee pain in a week. X-rays and/or CT scans (to detect possible bone fracture or dislocation) or an MRI (to detect possible ligament or tendon injury) may be warranted depending on the nature of the pain and range of motion of the knee joint. In addition, fluid may be drained from the bursae, fluid-filled sacs which cushion the joint, to lessen inflammation and joint pain.
Knee pain as a result of osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition since inflammation is persistent due to cartilage degeneration. Activity usually increases knee pain and prolonged sitting results in stiffness. Treatment entails either taking OTC or prescription medications. Joint injections of hyaluronic acid (e.g., Synvisc-One) can relieve chronic pain from OA. Severe cases of OA may require narcotic pain medications or knee joint replacement.
After treatment, you can prevent further pain by:
Other possible causes of knee pain include: chondromalacia caused by degeneration under the kneecap due to hypertonic quads, repetitive overuse or knock knees; patellofemoral pain syndrome caused by improper patella tracking or medial/lateral quad imbalance; unstable knee joint caused by overstretched ligaments; locked knee caused by a torn meniscus or a loose particle within the joint capsule; swelling caused by an internal injury; and crepitus caused by cartilage grinding.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
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I'm a personal trainer who loves to help others fulfill their health and fitness goals. I consider myself a bodybuilder in that I live the lifestyle of eating healthy food, working out regularly, and sculpting my body.