With the lower extremities carrying the all the weight in any human, it is no surprise that the lower extremities experience a higher rate of pain and joint degradation. The knees, being a major joint in the lower extremities, take the brunt force carrying the weight of a person through normal daily actions and athletic movements.
Most often patients complain of a general pain in the medial and lateral joint compartments. It is often discovered that if a significant injury has not taken place, arthritis might be the underlying cause.
While a full assessment is needed to confirm knee arthritis, (with xray images proving arthritic changes) a patient may most commonly experience general swelling throughout the joint, pain with ROM, and crepitating symptoms. See our arthritis page for more information.
Your knee is held together and operates using many major ligaments. In athletes, it is common to partially or completely tear a ligament. The meniscus, which is the body’s natural buffer system between the femur and tibia/fibula, is another common part of the knee to injure. In these cases, after full examination, surgical intervention may be discussed for long term benefit. Supplementing this discussion will be conservative treatments of Physical Therapy strengthening and exercising.
Surgery is not always the best option. In less developed forms of knee pain, the following might be explored:
- Bracing / Splinting
- Wearing a brace / splint especially when active will alleviate some pressure on the joint.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen can relieve pain. Glucosamine supplements and calcium might be added to diet.
- Steroid Injections
- A corticosteroid will provide relief but there’s a chance the symptoms may come back. Hyaluronan injections may also be recommended. Synvisc injections come in either a single shot form (Synvisc – One) or a series (Synvisc Series). The option of having these injection depend greatly on the patient’s overall health and any outstanding concerns, such as diabetes.
Exercising the muscles involved in the joint will strengthen the system as a whole, placing less stress on any specific point.
In more advanced forms of chronic or acute knee pain, ligamentous repairs, chondroplasties, and / or unicompartmental / total joint replacements might be considered. After diagnosis and proper proposed protocol, patient will be educated on the suggested procedure.
What Happens Without Treatment?
Without treatment, pain symptoms may gradually lessen. However, in many cases if the injury requires surgical intervention, but is left untreated, the pain symptoms may worsen. If the structure of the anatomical part becomes affected due to the prolonged waiting to have surgery, a more advanced procedure may become necessary.
- Reduce force on knees
- When exercising or running, it is often much easier on the lower extremity joints to do so on a soft surface (e.g. grass, rubberized track).
- Practice safe form with joint movements
- When lifting a heavy object or doing squats, bend the knee no more than a safe degree (90 degrees), to prevent damage.
- Take Supplements
- Arthritis is indiscriminate. Taking Glucosamine chondroitin has proven effective in promoting healthy joint cartilage and spacing.
- Practice safe athletic movements
- One of the most common injuries to the knee is a torn anterior crutiate ligament. This is often caused by an explosive lateral movement, putting excess stress on the ligament that rapidly or eventually unsheathes. It is recommended that athletes practice safe lateral cutting to change directions.