10 Causes of Knee Pain

By nigel
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Knee pain can strike for a number of reasons and can be quite debilitating. The knees are very important joints that carry most of our body weight. If our knees are seriously hurt or injured, it becomes difficult for us to be physically active.

Knee pain can be chronic or acute. Acute knee pain occurs when you have an injury, inflammation, or any kind of temporary problem. It does not last and will go away on its own or because of medical attention.

Chronic knee pain, on the other hand, can be much more problematic. It is the result of illnesses or conditions like arthritis. These conditions can have consistent symptoms, or they can flare up depending on certain factors such as the time of day, a person’s diet, and their level of activity.

Cause #1: Tendinitis

Tendinitis is a condition caused by inflammation of the tendons. In the case of knee pain, tendinitis often occurs at the front of the knee. Jumper’s tendinitis occurs when someone jumps too high or too hard and especially repetitively, and often affects athletes, especially basketball players.

If you are suffering from tendinitis, you’ll probably notice that the pain becomes worse when you’re climbing, going up stairs or any sort of incline.

Knee Pain

Cause #2: Bursitis

Bursitis is a condition caused by inflammation that occurs when someone overuses their joints. In the knees, there are small fluid-filled sacs known as bursae which help minimize friction and provide cushioning for movement and pressure.

Unfortunately, when these small sacs become inflamed, a person can lose some of their range of motion. It can be uncomfortable or painful to move the knees.

Cause #3: Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition. When it occurs in the knee, it is referred to as degenerative arthritis of the knee or simply, wear-and-tear arthritis. It is a condition that occurs when the cartilage inside the joints begins to wear away.

This cartilage prevents the bones in the joints from rubbing together, but when it wears away, there is nothing to stop them. This can create pain, inflammation, and swelling. As a degenerative condition, osteoarthritis tends to get worse if it’s not managed properly.

Knee Pain

Cause #4: Chondromalacia patellae

Chondromalacia patellae is a very common cause of chronic knee pain. This condition is also marked by a degeneration of the cartilage.

It usually occurs when the patella – the knee cap – is out of alignment and slides over the lower part of the femur. When this happens over an extended period of time, it can lead to inflammation and discomfort.

Cause #5: Gout

Gout is a condition caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints. It’s a type of arthritis, and thus the symptoms are the same: inflammation, swelling, discomfort, and a decreased range of motion.

Gout is often caused by consuming too many foods and substances that are high in purines – compounds which break down into uric acid. Foods like meat, poultry, and seafood are all high in purines and can increase the risk of developing gout.

Knee Pain

Cause #6: Baker’s Cyst

The joints have a fluid known as synovial fluid. It lubricates the joint and helps to ensure that movements are fluid and friction is minimal.

However, if too much of this fluid builds up, it can create problems such as a baker’s cyst. This can impede a person’s movement and make it hard to perform daily functions, in addition to causing pain and discomfort.

Cause #7: Dislocation

Dislocation is a common cause of knee pain, especially for athletes and people who are often engaged in high-intensity activities. Dislocation is almost always a result of physical trauma.

When the kneecap is dislocated it is dislodged from the groove on the femur where it would normally rest. This can make it extremely painful for you to do anything involving your legs. Without crutches, it can be difficult and painful to even walk.

Knee Pain

Cause #8: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is another form of arthritis that can become quite severe. It’s an autoimmune disease that causes serious inflammation.

If RA is not treated properly, it will continue to progress leading to serious swelling, pain, and discomfort. Eventually, the joints can become deformed, impeding a person’s ability to move, and the bones can erode.

Cause #9: Torn Ligaments

There are four ligaments present in the knee. It may be quite painful if a ligament is torn; however, depending on the ligament effected, it may be painless. If your ligaments are torn, then you may have a difficult time bending the knee and engaging in any serious activity may be impossible.

Of the four ligaments found in the knee, the most frequently injured one is the anterior cruciate ligament, also known as the ACL. This ligament is often torn during high-intensity sports.

Cause #10: Overuse

One of the simplest things that can cause knee pain is overuse. If your knee hurts, this is not necessarily an indication of a more serious problem. You might just be using it too much. Moderation is key with anything, including the use of your body.

If you go for runs every day on hard pavement, you might be putting a lot of stress on your knee joints. Likewise, if you play too many sports, then you might be more likely to injure your knees. If you start noticing any discomfort, it’s important to slow down and take it easy.

Knee Pain

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