Most people are surprised to learn that the knee is the largest joint in the body. Unfortunately, it is also more susceptible to injury than any other joint. Most knee injuries occur during athletic activities. Arthritis also commonly affects the bones of the knee joint as we age.
The knee is prone to problems because it is in near constant use and we seldom have the chance to give it rest. In today’s increasingly active society, the problem and number of knee problems is growing.
To function properly, each part of the knee needs to work smoothly. Acute injury or trauma as well as chronic overuse cause inflammation and symptoms that include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth.
The goal of knee rehab is twofold. One is to prevent weakening of the muscles that surround the knee. Second is to diminish the burden on the knee joint.
People who have stronger muscles surrounding the knee often have fewer problems with the joint. Weaker muscles create more work for the knee joint by providing less support. Conversely, strong muscles of the leg better support and control the knee joint.
If you have knee pain, some common causes include:
Arthritis is among the most common causes of knee pain, and there are many treatments available.
Ligament injuries commonly occur during athletic activities and can cause discomfort and instability.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
Cartilage Injuries | Meniscal Tear
Cartilage tears are seen in young and old patients alike, and are also an extremely common cause of knee pain.
Tendonitis around the joint is most commonly of the patellar tendon, the large tendon over the front of the knee.
Patella Chondromalacia causes knee pain under the kneecap and is due to softening of the cartilage. It is most common in younger patients (15-35 years old).
A dislocating kneecap causes acute symptoms during the dislocation, but can also lead to chronic knee pain.
A Baker’s cyst is swelling in the back of the joint, and is usually a sign of another underlying problem such as a meniscus tear.
The most common bursa affected around the joint is just above the kneecap. This is most common in people who kneel for work, such as gardeners or carpetlayers.
Plica syndrome is an uncommon cause of knee pain, and can be difficult to diagnose. The diagnosis is usually made at the time of arthroscopy.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition seen in adolescents and is due to irritation of the growth plate just at the front of the joint.
Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is another condition seen in adolescents due to the growth of the bone around the joint.
Gout is an uncommon cause of knee pain. However, in patients who have a diagnosis of gout, it must be considered as a cause for new onset knee pain.
Frequently treated knee problems and conditions include:
- Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)
- Knee Arthritis
- Knee Bursitis
- Meniscus Tears
- Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
- Broken Knee Cap
- Patella Tendon Rupture
- Quadriceps Tendon Rupture
- Shin Splints
- Thigh Muscle Strains
- Tibial Fractures
- Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)