The biggest cause of knee issues is NOT what you think.
My name is Dr. David Geier – orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist, and anti-aging and regenerative medicine expert. I help you feel, look and perform your best, regardless of age or injury.
Knee pain is a common condition that affects millions of people, often due to everyday activities such as walking, running or climbing stairs. If you have knee pain, it’s important to know when to see a doctor because there are many possible causes for knee pain, and some are more serious than others.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is the most common cause of knee pain. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult to diagnose because there are many different factors that can contribute to it.
The patella – or kneecap – is supposed to glide smoothly in its groove on top of your femur (the thigh bone). If there’s any friction between these two surfaces, it can cause irritation and discomfort in your knee. This condition is called patellofemoral syndrome: Basically, “patella” means kneecap; “femoral” refers to the thigh bone; and “syndrome” means there are multiple symptoms present instead of just one specific problem that causes pain or discomfort at any given time.
Patellofemoral pain typically occurs during activities like running or going up and down stairs, which produces friction between the kneecap and thigh bone, causing inflammation around the front of the knee.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to prevent or treat patellofemoral pain: stretch before and after exercise; wear supportive shoes; strengthen the muscles around the knee and hip, and even the core muscles; ice when needed. Working with a physical therapist can help get rid of the pain as well. Surgery is rarely needed.
Iliotibial band syndrome
Iliotibial band friction syndrome is a condition that occurs when the iliotibial band – a thick, rubbery tendon that runs from your hip to your knee -becomes inflamed and irritated. The IT band is susceptible to friction from overuse or poor biomechanics, which causes it to rub against the outside of your knee. This can cause pain and swelling around this area of your leg as well as tenderness along the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outside of the knee).
The symptoms of IT band syndrome include pain on the outside of your knee during activity; difficulty walking up stairs; feeling like something is “catching” or “snapping” on the outside of the knee as you run; and swelling after exercise.
Osteoarthritis is a common disease that causes pain and stiffness in your joints. It’s not just a problem that affects the knees. It can also affect other joints such as hips and fingers.
Osteoarthritis happens when cartilage – the cushioning tissue that covers all bones – breaks down. Because osteoarthritis involves damage to joints, it often results in pain with movement. This can make it difficult for someone who has this condition to do things like walk around or bend down at work. Fortunately, there are steps people can take to manage symptoms associated with osteoarthritis so they don’t interfere with daily living activities, and they can be better options than surgery or cortisone shots.
Patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee)
Patellar tendinopathy is a condition that affects the tendon that attaches your kneecap to your shinbone.
The pain from patellar tendinopathy can range from mild to severe and often worsens with activity. You may notice that it hurts more when you squat or kneel, but it will also hurt if you wear certain types of shoes. Often modifying physical activity and exercise can be helpful. Sometimes working with a physical therapist is necessary. On rare situations, injections and even surgery can be necessary, but that’s usually not done unless the problem has lasted for a long time.
Have your knee pain checked out by an orthopedic surgeon
If you have pain in your knees, see a doctor right away and get it checked out. Knee pain can be a sign of a serious problem that needs immediate treatment, such as an ACL injury or meniscus tear, which we will talk about in future videos. If left untreated, the pain could get worse and could lead to other knee problems later on.
If you’re not sure what is causing your knee discomfort, talk to your doctor and allow hm or her to examine your knee. The doctor will also likely perform x-rays of your knee, and maybe even an MRI. Hopefully, your pain is the most common cause of knee pain – patellofemoral pain – and simple remedies will get you through it quickly.
Do you have knee pain?
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This post is meant for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.