There are a number of different components to a human knee, and a number of different causes of knee pain. Damage to the long bones of the leg including the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), or fibula can cause pain where they connect at the knee. An injury to the bony kneecap itself (also called the patella) can also result in knee pain. In addition, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, parts of the body that protect and connect different bones, are all possible sources of pain as well.
Knee pain can be due to an injury, for example tearing a ligament while skiing. It could also be caused by wear and tear over time, which can cause thinning of the cartilage. To provide a few example; thin and soft cartilage results in the kneecap rubbing against the other bones, a condition called “chondromalacia” and this can cause significant discomfort. When the thigh bone rubs against the knee, it causes a condition called patellofemoral syndrome, a common injury in runners.
What are the symptoms of knee pain? When should I see a knee pain doctor?
So as you may be starting to realize, knee pain is actually incredibly complex. The pain can be on the front, back, top, bottom or side of the knee and can be of varying quality and severity. A specialized knee pain doctor NYC is probably the best person to evaluate your knee pain. Here are some common reasons people like you decide it’s time to visit a knee pain doctor:
- The knee is red and inflamed. This increases concern for an infection.
- There is significant discomfort behind the knee, concerning for a condition called a Baker’s cyst.
- The knee was twisted or pushed during an athletic event with pain and swelling after
- It is difficult to walk without limping and you cannot put weight on the injured knee.
- Walking up and down stairs is difficult
- The knee “locks” and doesn’t bend, especially while you are walking
- You cannot stretch out the knee fully
- The knee hurts you even when you are not walking
Causes of knee pain:
When it comes to categorizing knee pain by New York pain doctors, there are three main areas:
- Acute injury – a broken bone, torn ligament or tendon.
- Medical conditions – autoimmune diseases, infections or electrolytes problems like Gout.
- Chronic overuse – bursitis, tendinitis, arthritis and IT band syndrome are examples.
Because of the variety of conditions, it’s important to be evaluated by a dedicated knee pain doctor, but here is a comprehensive list:
Acute knee injuries
- Fractures: broken bones are often, but not always, due to sporting injuries and accidents. Hard contact with one of the leg bones causes a knee bone to break. Fractures can be obvious, with bone jutting through the skin, or can be more subtle, such as a hairline fracture where the only sign of a broken bone is severe pain. A Knee pain doctor can help diagnose and treat a fracture. Signs that you have a fracture include severe pain that is worse with walking, makes it difficult to carry body weight
- Ligament injuries: Ligament injuries are often sports-related since they are commonly caused by sudden changes in direction. Common ligament injuries include ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial cruciate ligament) and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injuries.
- Meniscus injuries: The cartilage between the knee bones is known as the medial and lateral meniscus. Sudden twisting, turning movements, can lead to ligament damage. Thorough evaluation requires a knee pain doctor NYC.
- Dislocation: Knee dislocations are commonly due to major traumas, like automobile accidents. This is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. It is extremely painful.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammation of the joints throughout the body. Usually the joints in the hands are affected, but rheumatoid can affect any joint. It tends to be extremely painful and cause significant swelling.
- Gout: Gout is a type of arthritis due to an imbalance of a certain chemical in your bloodstream. Gout most commonly affects the big toe and the knee. It is extremely painful when it flares, but a pain doctor New York can help calm the inflammation down and treat the gout.
- Septic arthritis (infectious arthritis): Septic arthritis is an infection located within the knee joint causing pain and swelling. If you have septic arthritis you will also often have fevers and pain. Treatment by a knee pain doctor is needed right away. is where the joint becomes infected and fever comes along with the pain. Treatment by a knee pain doctor NYC is needed right away
Chronic use/overuse conditions
- Patellar tendinitis: When the tendon connecting the patella (kneecap) to the femur (thigh bone) is inflamed, it causes significant knee pain. This is a common knee pain in runners and cyclists.
- Osteoarthritis: Worn out cartilage from carrying too much weight or from natural aging is the most common cause of knee pain. New York Pain Doctors are very familiar with this and can help -Cartilage is worn down often as a result of being overweight or general aging and New York doctors see this regularly.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome: When the thigh bone rubs against the kneecap, this can cause significant pain. Like patellar tendinitis, this is very common in runners and cyclists.
What are risk factors for knee pain?
- Biomechanics: Some people are just at higher risk for knee pain than others due to the structure of their knee. If your parents or other relatives had knee issues, you are at a higher risk for knee issues yourself.
- Obesity – Excess body weight puts pressure on the knee causing damage to the cartilage
- Repetitive motion – Joggers, cyclists and skiers are all at risk for earlier loss of cartilage due to constant pressure.
When should people with knee pain call a health care professional?
Once you have pain in the knee you should not wait more than a few days before seeking out a good New York pain doctor. If there is swelling, or an inability to move the knee, call right away. If you have a fever your knee pain could be an emergency.
What are some of the complications of knee pain?
If you ignore your knee pain, the problem could definitely get worse. A small tear in a tendon that does not require surgery could turn into a larger tear that does. A small amount of cartilage loss that responds well to a medical injection could turn into a large amount of cartilage loss that requires a surgery. Talking to a knee pain doctor right away ensures that you will not end up in a difficult situation.
How do physicians diagnose knee pain?
New York doctors will start by asking you a number of questions about your pain. Some of the questions will be about an entirely different part of your body because pain doctors want to make an educated decision about whether your knee pain is related to an injury in the knee or a medical condition that affects the whole body.
Next the pain doctor will perform a thorough physical exam, checking the knee itself and manipulating it to test different motions. Likely the pain doctor will know the cause of your knee pain after a physical exam alone, but they might consider:
- Radiologic imaging: Your knee pain doctor might consider sending you for an X-ray or an MRI to get additional information. X-rays can look at your bones, MRIs can evaluate your cartilage, muscle and ligaments.
- Blood tests: your doctor can check for inflammation that affects the whole body, gout, and other conditions.
- Fluid removal from the joint (arthrocentesis): Your knee pain doctor may decide that the best way to get results is to remove fluid from the knee. The fluid is extracted via a small needle. It is important for the needle to be sterile. This also helps detect inflammation within the joint as well as infections throughout the body.
What kinds of doctors treat knee pain?
Pain doctors are the best source for an initial opinion regarding knee pain. If they think you need surgery, a good knee pain doctor will connect you with an orthopedic surgeon. If your condition is likely due to gout or arthritis, a knee pain doctor will send you to a specialist for each of those conditiona.
What is the treatment for knee pain?
Treatments for knee pain are as varied as the conditions that can cause the pain. They include the following:
- Medications: Many over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can help with knee pain. However if you are requiring medication every day, you should see a knee pain doctor.
- Physical therapy: Strengthening the knee muscle will allow you to move more easily. A physical therapist will work with you to achieve this
- Injections: Direct injections can relieve pain. Lubricants and corticosteroids are incredibly helpful and instantly ease the pain caused by osteoarthritis. These injections are necessary every few months and should be provided by an experienced pain doctor only.
- Surgery : Surgery for knee pain can be simple, such as a arthroscopy (knee scope) to help with the cartilage. It can also be as complex as a partial knee replacement. -With surgery, it could be something as simple as arthroscopic surgery through to a completely new knee.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture can give partial relief to many people suffering from knee pain.
- Ice: Ice packs can help calm inflammation in the joine
- Elevation: Positioning the knee on a pillow can be helpful.
- Brace: Wearing an Ace bandage or Knee brace can help relieve pain.
Knee pain facts to remember
- Injuries and medical conditions can cause knee pain.
- It can be throughout the knee or localized
- Knee pain can be debilitating.
- Ignoring knee pain can lead to more serious issues
- Treatment for knee pain can be simple
Knee Pain Summary:
If your knee pain is affecting your quality of life, you should reach out to a qualified knee pain doctor. Most causes of knee pain can be addressed without surgery if you see the correct physician. A knee pain doctor will evaluate you and determine the cause of the pain, then work with you to fin the most appropriate treatment.