As one of the largest and most complex joints in the human body, the knee is prone to injury and pain. "Knee pain can be a debilitating and frustrating experience," says ARC Orthopedist Matthew D. Driscoll, MD. "If you're struggling with knee pain, it's important to understand the causes and treatments available."
Getting the orthopedic help you need
An orthopedic surgeon or non-surgical orthopedic provider can understand the events leading up to your knee problem, carefully examine your knee, and order tests like x-ray or MRI to better understand what's going on. They'll work with you to come up with a plan to help get you back on track. ARC Orthopedists can identify and treat injuries to bones, muscles, joints, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments that make up the musculoskeletal system.
"If your knee pain is severe, persistent, or interferes with your daily activities, it's time to see an orthopedic doctor," says Dr. Driscoll.
Signs that you should see an orthopedic doctor:
- Your knee pain is severe and doesn't improve with rest or over-the-counter pain medication
- Your knee is swollen, red, or warm to the touch
- You are unable to bear weight on your affected leg
- You hear a popping sound at the time of injury
- You have a history of knee problems or injuries
Common causes of knee pain
Knee pain has many different causes, ranging from acute injuries to chronic conditions. Here are some of the most common causes of knee pain:
- ACL tear: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four ligaments in the knee joint. An ACL tear is a common sports injury that occurs when the ligament is stretched or torn.
Symptoms: popping sound at the time of injury, swelling, instability, and difficulty walking.
- Tendon injury: The tendons in the knee joint can also become injured due to overuse or trauma. Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, is a common source of knee pain.
Symptoms: pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease affecting any joint, including the knee. It is more common in older adults, characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint.
Symptoms: pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the affected joint.
- Overuse: Activities that involve repetitive motion, such as running or jumping, can put a lot of stress on the knee joint. Over time, this can cause injuries such as bursitis, tendonitis, or patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Symptoms: pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected area.
- Fractures: Fractures, or broken bones, can also cause knee pain. This can occur due to a fall or other trauma.
Symptoms: severe pain, swelling, and inability to bear weight on the affected leg.
How can I manage knee pain at home?
Mild to moderate knee pain can sometimes be treated at home. "For problems with a more gradual onset like arthritis or overuse injuries, it's okay to try treatments at home first like icing, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen," says Dr. Driscoll. Knee pain can be a frustrating and debilitating experience, but you can take the necessary steps to alleviate your knee pain and get back to your daily activities. Don't let knee pain hold you back. Act today and seek the help you need to get back on your feet! Learn more about ARC Orthopedics.
ARC locations that include orthopedics services: