Knee pain: Causes and cures

Knee pain: Causes and cures

Knee pain: Causes and cures

The knee is a hinge joint that includes the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). The knee joint is the largest joint in the human body and one of the most complex. Having to support the entire weight of the body, the knee joint is often susceptible to various kinds of injury, including injuries occurring form normal wear and tear, to ligament damage and even fractures. It is a well known fact that female athletes are more prone to knee injuries brought on by the extra stress on the joints. It is also seen that in society, in general, more women suffer from knee related problems than men.

Common knee injuries

Most injuries caused to the knee occur due to twisting or stretching or any movement or motion that goes beyond what the knee joint can tolerate. Sudden movements can cause knee injuries not only to athletes but also to others going about their daily routine, boarding a bus or walking on uneven pavements.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee. People who experience an ACL tear complain of the joint feeling as if it has snapped, buckled or given way. This is accompanied by sharp, acute pain followed by swelling and a partial loss of mobility.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tear generally occurs when there is heavy contact to the outside of the knee while it is flexed and the foot is planted firmly on the ground. The impact could cause a partial tear or a total tear of the ligament. A sudden pain is felt in the region of the ligament and below the knee.

One should consult a doctor if he/she experiences any of the following symptoms:

-Immediate swelling and acute pain

-If the knee is dislocated or appears to be fractured or deformed in any way

-If the portion below the knee joint turns pale and cold

-If there is loss of mobility

-If there is pain when pressure is put on the knee

Diagnosis of knee injuries is often based on the symptoms of the patient. A physician conducts a standard physical examination of the injured joint, taking care to ensure that all the components that make up the knee are in the correct position as per the anatomy.
A special examination is done to check if the all the ligaments and tendons in the knee are intact. The physician may seek the help of an x-ray and a scan.

Most knee injuries could take a while to heal and may require multiple visits to the doctor. Rest and physical therapy to strengthen the knee joint are often the best remedy. Patients may require anti inflammatory drugs and ice therapy to help reduce the pain and swelling caused by the injury. Surgery may be resorted to if the injury is severe or if the therapy fails.

Preventive measures

To prevent knee injuries one should be physically fit and control weight, which helps to reduce stress on the knee joint. Regular exercise routines, after consulting a doctor or a trained therapist, could be extremely helpful not only for knee related issues but for the overall health of the body.

Special exercises to strengthen the legs i.e. walking uphill, cycling and aerobics are very useful. It is always advisable to wear good footwear that offers stability.

One should always try to maintain ideal body weight and follow the correct biomechanics.
Stretching, strengthening, agility drills, and polymeric exercises (a training programme that loads and contracts the muscles maximally and quickly) can reduce the incidence of ACL injuries.

ACL injury rate goes down with proper training as strength, balance and joint proprioception (sense of position) improves.

If you suffer swelling, apply ice immediately, and see your doctor if the swelling persists.