Knee pain is a common complaint in modern society. Knee pain can be debilitating, and a source for concern. In general, there are two types of patients with knee problems, younger more active individuals, and older patients with worn out joints. This difference lies in the type of conditions that arise.
Younger patients tend to have problems with tendons and ligaments within and around the knee. They tend to be more heavily involved in contact sports, so they might also suffer from injuries which may cause torn ligaments, cartilage/meniscus injuries and dislocated joints. Heavy involvement in sport may also result in overuse or strained/torn tendons.
Elderly patients generally accumulate small injuries to their knees throughout life. This accumulates in a condition known as osteoarthritis of the knee, in which the joint cartilage over the knee surfaces gets worn out. They frequently have pain with everyday motions, such as prolonged walking or standing, may have problems with stairs or slopes and may be unable to squat.
Pain can arise in the knee from several sources, damage to any of the above areas can result in pain in the knee. Most common, pain in the knee is felt in front or inside the knee (anterior knee pain). Sometimes, especially with meniscus injuries or muscle injuries, patients may feel pain at the back of the knee (posterior knee pain).
In the early stages of knee problems, knee pain usually happens with activity only (mechanical), but as the conditions worsen, patients may start to experience knee pain even without knee movement or activity.
Parts of the knee which can cause pain include:
Knee pain can be associated with a variety of other symptoms, including:
As mentioned previously, knee pain in younger patients tends to arise due to injuries especially those sustained during sport. Patients will often give a history of a twisting injury to the knee, typically while standing on one leg only. Another common occurrence is for the injured knee to be hit from the side while the patient is standing.
A variety of injuries can result from these mechanisms:
Apart from injury, younger patients may also experience knee pain due to tendon overuse, which results in pain and swelling especially over the front of the knee. This most commonly affects the area above the kneecap, but can affect the area below it as well.
Age itself does not always mean that one will start to experience knee pain. However, age makes it more likely that your knee has sustained injuries throughout your life. As a result, older patients especially those above the age of 60 often suffer from worn out joints (knee osteoarthritis).
This is characterized by extensive loss of cartilage over the knee joint, and results in pain and stiffness. Many patients will find themselves losing knee function, and will have difficulty going up and down stairs. They usually also lose the ability to squat at an early stage, and learn mechanisms to cope.
Patients with knee pain will undergo a medical interview, and based on the information gained from the interview, patients will undergo a focused examination of the knee and the associated regions. This will provide the doctor with information pertaining to the underlying condition.
You may then be asked to undergo plain X-rays of the knee, and may also be asked to take standing X-rays of the leg to check leg alignment. In patients suspected of having ligament/meniscal damage, you may also be asked to go for an MRI scan.
Depending on the underlying condition, your treatment will be tailored for you. We provide a full suite of options to treat what ails you, be it surgical or non-surgical. In the knee these options include,