What is Knee Pain?
Knee pain is a common problem that can affect people of any age. There are many causes of knee joint pain that require treatment and physiotherapy. These include a knee injury requiring treatment(such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage), medical conditions (including arthritis, gout and infections), being overweight, or just daily life. Turning in the wrong direction, over use, carrying things incorrectly, or that are too heavy, can all be a cause of knee pain. Even simple wear and tear from walking, bending, standing, lifting and especially pivoting could be a cause of knee pain. Often, life-long runners will eventually experience some sort of knee pain.
Pains in the knee that requires treatment can originate from any part of the knee that compromises the knee joint (femur, tibia, fibula), the kneecap (patella) or the ligaments, tendons and cartilage (meniscus) of the knee. Knee pain can also be triggered by other problems (such as a foot, calf or thigh injury).
While some conditions may go away on their own, certain knee injuries require the care of specialists to provide treatment and correction to help ensure that your knee is less prone to injury. This is why strengthening the muscles around the knee, using good technique and form, and visiting BPC are great ways to ensure your knee and those muscles around them stay strong and healthy.
Causes of Knee Pain Needing Treatment in Your Everyday Life
- Muscle strain – from heavy lifting or vigorous activity
- Previous injury – Having a previous knee injury puts you at a higher risk for further potential injuries and complications, but strengthening the knee and areas around the knee reduces this risk.
- Workout or exercise injuries – sports that have the potential for falls (jumping sports), changes in direction or contact, including basketball, volleyball (jumping and pivoting), football (changes in direction), running (jogging continuously for an extended period), and cycling (pressure on the knee throughout the exercise), among others.
- Excess weight – Being overweight increases stress on your knee joints, even during daily activities including walking or simply going up and down stairs. It also puts you at increased risk of osteoarthritis by accelerating the breakdown of joint cartilage.
- Lack of exercise and strengthening – Our knees are used daily, but we often choose to ignore the fact that they naturally get weaker as we age.
Common Causes of Knee Pain Needing Treatment
Some of the most common cause of knee pain requiring treatment at our clinic in Bangkok are:
Scientific Reasons for the Pain:
- ACL injury – An ACL injury is a tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) — one of four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone. An ACL injury is particularly common in people who play sports that require sudden changes in direction.
- MCL injury – A Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) knee injury requiring immediate treatment occurs after an impact on the outside of the knee, lower thigh or upper leg, when the foot is in contact with the ground, and unable to move. The MCL on the inside of the knee will become stressed due to the impact, and a combined movement of flexion/valgus/external rotation will lead to tears in the fibers. You may feel immediate pain, and/or hear a popping or tearing sound. Generally, the deep part of the ligament gets damaged first, and this may lead to medial meniscal damage or anterior cruciate ligament damage (ACL).
- Fractures – The bones of the knee, including the kneecap (patella), can be broken during car collisions or falls. People whose bones have been weakened by osteoporosis can sometimes sustain a knee fracture simply by stepping wrong, for example, stepping into an unexpected pothole.
- Torn meniscus – The meniscus is formed of tough, rubbery cartilage and acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it.
- Knee bursitis – Some knee injuries cause inflammation in the bursae, the small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint so that tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint.
- Patellar tendonitis – Tendinitis is irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons — the thick, fibrous tissues that attach muscles to bones. Runners, skiers, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities may develop inflammation in the patellar tendon, which connects the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh to the shinbone.
- Jumper’s Knee – Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) of the quadriceps tendon which attaches to the top of the patella, or at the lower point of the patella, or at the location where it connects to the tibia (approximately 2 inches below the knee on the front).
- Tendon Ruptures – are when the quadriceps and patellar tendons may rupture partially or completely.
- Arthritis of the knee – an inflammatory disorder of the knee that can be caused by a number of reasons:
- Osteoarthritis – degeneration of cartilage in the knee causing the femur to rub on the tibia (bone to bone if completely damaged)
- Crystalline Arthritis – crystals that form in the knee as a result of defects in the absorption or metabolism of natural substances in your body including Uric Acid and Calcium Pyrophosphate.
Knee Pain FAQs
The healing time for ACL varies based on the severity of the injury. Mild sprain may heal in a few weeks with rest and physiotherapy, while more severe tear might require several months, and in some cases, surgery.
Minor ACL tear or sprains can heal without surgery with appropriate care, rest, and physiotherapy. However, severe tears may require surgical intervention to restore joint stability and function fully.
Partial ACL tear or mild injuries can sometimes be managed with physiotherapy, which focuses on strengthening the surrounding muscles and stabilizing the knee. Complete ACL tears usually require surgery for athletes and active individuals.
Rehabilitation without surgery may be suitable for elderly or less active individuals with a partial ACL tear or mild injury. However, for young and physically active individuals, surgical intervention is often recommended for better stability.
An ACL injury can cause knee instability, pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, and difficulty in performing activities that involve sudden stops, pivoting, or changes in direction. Proper treatment is crucial to prevent further damage.
If knee pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by swelling, locking, instability, or inability to bear weight, it may be a sign of a more serious issue. Consulting a healthcare professional or physiotherapist is essential for proper evaluation.
Gout in the knee can cause intense pain, swelling, redness, and limited mobility. If left untreated, it may lead to joint damage and chronic issues. Prompt medical attention, including lifestyle changes and medications, is necessary for effective management.
Osteoarthritis in the knee can worsen with activities that put excessive stress on the joint, obesity, lack of exercise, inadequate muscle support, and improper biomechanics. Physiotherapy can help manage symptoms and improve knee function.