Knee Pain and Its Treatment

Knee Pain and Its Treatment at a Glance

Our knee is the largest weight bearing joint in our body. Due to its excessive use, it is vulnerable to injuries and other medical conditions. Knee pain is the common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by problems of the joint and the surrounding soft tissues like tendons, ligaments and bursae.

Knee Pain Sites

The site and severity of knee pain varies in different conditions. Pain is usually associated with other symptoms also like:

  • Inflammation and warmth
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Stiffness
  • Inability to fully extend the knee
  • Popping or crackling sound from the joint


Causes of Knee Pain

There are a variety of causes of knee pain; however, the most common causes include knee injuries and arthritis. Common types of knee injuries, other than fractures are:

  • Knee ligament injury (torn ACL/PCL)
  • Meniscal tear or torn cartilage
  • Knee bursitis
  • Patellar tendon tear

Common types of arthritis that cause knee pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-traumatic arthritis


Knee Ligament Injuries

The knee joint is supported by various ligaments to enhance stability of the joint. There are four primary ligaments in the knee:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—tightly holds the thigh bone (femur) and the anterior part of lower bone (tibia).
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) -- tightly holds the thigh bone (femur) and the posterior part of lower bone (tibia).
  • Lateral collateral ligament—connects femur and fibula and provide stability to outer side of knee.
  • Medial collateral ligament—connects femur and tibia and provide stability to the inner side of the knee.

Knee ligament injuries are common sports injuries that involve sudden stop and change like basketball, tennis and volleyball. Injured knee ligaments are graded as grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 according to the severity of tear. The injury results in typical symptoms such as pain with tenderness, discomfort during walking and loss of full range of motion.

Usually, the physical examination and imaging tests like X-ray and MRI help diagnose the ligament injuries. Treatments of both ACL tear and PCL tear can be surgical and non-surgical. Non-surgical treatment is recommended for older patients or for those who have a low activity level. It includes RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation), knee bracing and physical therapy.

The ACL tear cannot be stitched back together. For surgical ACL repair, the ligament is reconstructed. The torn ligament is replaced with a tissue graft. This graft acts as scaffolding for a new ligament to grow on. The procedure is called ACL reconstruction. For PCL injury knee arthroscopy is the best surgical treatment.


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