At some point in life, we have all experienced some degree of knee pain. Whether it’s from overuse, an injury, or a medical condition, knee pain can be a major hindrance to our daily lives. Knee pain can range from a mild discomfort to severe pain, and it can be caused by a variety of factors. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss how to get rid of knee pain and improve your overall knee health.
Understanding the Anatomy of the Knee
The knee joint is the largest joint in the body, and it’s also one of the most complex.
The knee joint is made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. The bones that make up the knee joint are the femur, tibia, and patella. The patella is also known as the kneecap.
The knee joint is held together by four ligaments: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
Common Causes of Knee Pain
The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury, or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Knee injuries are common in all levels of sports from recreational to professional. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis for pain in the knee.
Injuries such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage can cause knee pain.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments that help stabilize the knee joint.
It’s most commonly torn during sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction such as basketball, soccer, tennis and skiing.
Knee bursitis can also cause pain and stiffness. It occurs when the bursa at the front of the knee becomes inflamed. The knee joint has about 11 bursae (fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints). The bursae that commonly cause knee bursitis are located at the front of the knee.
Mechanical problems such as loose body or iliotibial band syndrome can also cause knee pain. Being overweight puts you at greater risk for knee problems. Overusing your knee can trigger knee problems that cause pain. If you have a history of arthritis, it could also cause knee pain.
Diagnosing a knee injury or problem includes a medical examination and usually the use of a diagnostic procedure(s) such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan or arthroscopy.
Simple causes of knee pain often clear up on their own while you take steps to manage your symptoms. If your knee pain is caused by an accident or injury, you should contact your doctor immediately
There are several common causes of knee pain, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (a systemic inflammatory condition)
- Bursitis (common pain on the back of your knee)
- Meniscus tears
- Ligament injuries
- Patellar tendonitis
- IT band syndrome (sharp pain on the outside of your knee)
- Runner’s knee (dull ache pain around the front of the knee)
Symptoms of Knee Pain
The symptoms of knee pain can vary depending on the cause and severity of the pain.
Some common symptoms of knee pain include:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Limited range of motion
- Redness and warmth to the touch
- Weakness or instability
- Knee clicking or knee popping
- Pain that increases with activity
- Pain that worsens at night
The anatomy of knee
The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia) . The smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia (fibula) and the kneecap (patella) are other bones that make up the knee joint.
The knee is a synovial joint, meaning it contains a fluid-filled capsule that lubricates and nourishes the inside of the joint. The knee is designed to fulfill several functions, including supporting the body in an upright position without requiring muscles to work, providing stability, acting as a shock absorber, allowing twisting of the leg, making walking more efficient, and helping propel the body forward.
The bones of the knee include femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (kneecap).
The lateral meniscus is situated on the outside of the knee while medial meniscus is located on its inside. They act as shock-absorbers between curved lower part of thigh bone and flat upper part of shin bone when walking and provide stability to knees.
The knee joint is surrounded by synovial fluid which keeps it lubricated. The bones are covered by smooth joint surface cartilage that allows them to glide smoothly together without friction. If this surface gets damaged through wear and tear or a knee injury, arthritis can develop.
Tendons connect muscles to bones; in this case, tendons connect leg muscles that move the knee joint to bones in knees.
how does physical therapy with exercises or injections help with knee pain
Physical therapy can help with knee pain by decreasing pain, increasing strength, and improving mobility.
Physical therapists are trained to diagnose and treat knee pain and can work together with other members of a healthcare team. Exercises are the primary tool for treating knee pain in physical therapy. Targeted exercises are used to help strengthen and improve the mobility of the knee. A physical therapist will evaluate your knee pain and develop a customized treatment plan that may include hands-on therapy, ultrasound massage, electrical nerve or muscle stimulation, joint mobilization/stabilization, balance training, gait training, stretching, strengthening exercises, heat or ice.
Physical therapy can also be helpful before and after surgery.
Your physical therapist working together with your surgeon will be able to tell you how much activity you can do depending on the type of knee surgery you undergo.
Physical therapy is also beneficial for people with arthritis as it can improve joint range of motion and function by strengthening surrounding muscles that support the joint.
Physical therapy for knee pain typically requires two or three sessions a week for several weeks. Your physical therapist will give you exercises to do at home and show you how to practice them safely. You could feel stiff or sore after your therapy so plan ahead for some time to rest. Ask your doctor or therapist how to get relief from this achiness
How do you stop your knee from hurting or burning pain
Burning knee pain can be caused by a variety of problems, including ligament or cartilage tears, arthritis, overuse injuries, and strains.
The location of the burning sensation can give clues as to what is causing the problem. Burning behind the knee is often caused by a ligament tear or cartilage tear. Burning in the front of the knee is often due to patellofemoral pain syndrome or chondromalacia patella.
Treatment for burning knee pain depends on the cause.
For example, if it’s knee arthritis, mild exercise or physical therapy may be recommended. A physician may also suggest wearing a knee brace for arthritis since they help transition stress from unhealthy areas of the knee to healthier areas – minimizing the burning sensation. If you feel burning in your knees at night, at rest, or while sitting, you may have a more serious knee injury. In this case, it’s important to follow the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to help alleviate pain.
If you’re experiencing intense burning knee pain that continues despite taking it easy and applying ice packs, it’s time to seek medical attention.
Depending on the cause of your burning knee pain, your doctor may recommend muscle-strengthening exercises or a protective knee brace for partial ligament tears, rest and over-the-counter medication for overuse injuries and strains, anti-inflammatory medications and massages for arthritis-related pain, or intravenous and oral antibiotics for joint infections
what causes knee pain without injury
Knee pain can be caused by various factors, including injuries, mechanical problems, types of arthritis, and other medical conditions.
While knee pain is often associated with an injury such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage, it can also occur without any preceding injury.
Knee pain without injury can be caused by medical conditions such as arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and pseudogout), infections, and connective tissue disorders.
Some of the most common knee injuries that cause severe knee pain include ACL injury (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries), Baker’s Cyst, bursitis, dislocated kneecap, torn meniscus patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee), and iliotibial band syndrome.
Knee injuries can affect any of the ligaments, tendons, or fluid-filled sac (bursae) that surround your knee joint as well as the bones, cartilage and ligaments that form the joint itself.
It is important to seek medical attention if you experience knee pain without an apparent cause. Delaying care can prolong symptoms and even make them worse.
Treatment options for knee pain depend on the type and severity of the condition. Self-care methods such as physical therapy and knee braces may alleviate minor knee pain in some cases.
However, severe or chronic knee pain may require non-operative or surgical treatment options. Knee replacement surgery would be performed by an orthopaedic surgeon.
What to do if your knee hurts when it’s straight
When a person experiences pain in the back of their knee when straightening their leg, it is called posterior knee pain. There are several reasons why the back of the knee may hurt when a person straightens their leg.
One of the most common causes is a Baker’s cyst, which is a pocket of fluid that forms behind the knee.
Other potential causes include patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), tension or tightness in muscles or tendons, arthritis, and blood clots.
The treatment for posterior knee pain depends on its underlying cause. Physical therapy, rest, and pain medications are common treatments for many of these causes.
For example, runner’s knee can be treated with physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the kneecap and improve alignment. In some cases, knee surgery may be necessary to treat the issue.
It is important to identify the specific cause of knee pain so that a specific treatment plan can be created. If someone experiences daily knee pain despite having no major trauma or precipitating event, they should seek medical attention to determine what is causing their pain and how it can be treated
what do cortisone shots do for knee pain
Cortisone shots are injections that can help relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area of the body, including the knee joint.
The injection usually includes a corticosteroid medication to relieve pain and inflammation over time and an anesthetic to provide immediate relief.
Cortisone mimics the natural compound cortisol, which reduces inflammation. When injected directly into the knee joint, cortisone acts on the inflammation resulting in reduced swelling and pain relief. It also improves mobility in the joint.
Cortisone shots are most effective in treating inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be part of treatment for other conditions, including back pain, bursitis, and tendonitis.
Cortisone shots can treat a variety of injuries and conditions that cause pain and swelling, including autoimmune diseases, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
However, it’s important to note that cortisone injections are not typically the first line of treatment. Medical providers may suggest other medications, lifestyle changes, or physical therapy first before addressing pain with a cortisone shot.
After a cortisone shot, the injection area should be protected for a day or two. For instance, if you received a cortisone shot in your knee, you should stay off your feet when you can1. Results of cortisone shots typically depend on the reason for the treatment. Cortisone shots commonly cause a temporary flare in pain and inflammation for up to 48 hours after the injection. After that, the pain and inflammation usually improve. The injections usually help relieve pain and swelling, and make movement easier. The benefits can last for several months
Why do you have knee pain?
Poor ankle mobility
When the ankle’s movement is limited in any of its planes, the knee joint overstresses and starts to pick up the slack since the ankle can’t put up with the load of your movement.
The lack of mobility in the ankle causes knee pain as it tries to bear more of the load as you move. If ankle mobility is inadequate, then excessive forces go to the knees and cause pain.
When foot and ankle do not have mobility, and/or hip is lacking flexibility, it causes a tug-of-war between upper and lower leg with knee being caught in the middle.
This places stress on the knee joint and can lead to instability in the knee. Thus, working or stretching muscles around the knee does not lead to relief of your knee pain.
Making sure both hip and ankle are mobile can lead to an increase in stability in the knee and a reduction in pain.
Tight ankles can cause altered mechanics that result in pain in foot, ankle, knee, hip, and even low back. Issues with ankle mobility could show up as generalized knee pain but usually pain is on inside of the knee.
If ankles cannot move optimally like they are supposed to, it forces knees to move improperly too. This will then lead to knee pain which will also lead to hip pain
Tight hips can cause knee pain because the knee seldom works in isolation.
Activities that often cause knee pain like squatting, lunging, walking and running all require the feet, ankles, legs and hips to move together in a coordinated manner.
If the hip is tight or lacks the flexibility to turn inward at the same time as pronation of the foot, then a tug-of-war ensues between the upper and lower leg and the knee joint is caught in the middle. This stress to the knee can lead to pain and dysfunction.
Hip flexor tightness across the front of your hips can contribute not only to your tightness but also hip pain, knee pain, and low back pain. The rectus femoris attaches to your knee cap (patella), and so does the TFL through the IT-band. When these muscles are tight they cause the kneecap to get compressed against your thigh bone (femur).
This happens when you squat, walk, run, etc. Then you experience knee pain.
Therefore, if you’re experiencing knee pain caused by tight hips or hip flexors, it’s important to stretch or use myofascial release regularly.
Complete long split lunges or pigeon pose stretches to increase length in your hip flexor. Mobilize and strengthen your hips and glutes with mini band exercises such as hip raises
Inflammation can cause joint pain by attacking the tissues, which leads to joint swelling, increased joint fluid, cartilage and bone damage, and muscle loss. Nerves in the joints are also activated, causing pain.
Inflammatory chemicals may directly activate other nerves of the body and lead to pain as well. Chronic inflammation in the joints can damage cartilage, bones, tendons or ligaments; irritate nerves; and produce a long list of symptoms including pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Knee pain may be caused by an injury such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions including arthritis and infections can also cause knee pain.
Arthritis is a disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints. It can affect the largest and strongest joints in your body. The most common forms of inflammatory arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus.
Inflammation occurs when the immune system or damaged tissue releases chemicals that cause swelling and other symptoms in a joint. It can affect just one joint such as when a person sustains an injury.
However, certain medical conditions can lead to multiple instances of joint inflammation
How to Get Rid of Knee Pain
Improve ankle mobility
You can increase range of motion in the ankle by using a band or a myofascial release with a ball or foam roller. Stretching can work but I find it takes a while and my clients have a hard time being consistent with it because they don’t see the changes right away.
Banded mobility exercises can be added to a workout routine to improve ankle mobility. Banded ankle mobilization is a simple and effective drill that can be used to improve ankle range of motion. The banded ankle mobilization drill involves placing the band correctly on the ankle and applying tension while bending the knee.
This exercise can help gain extra range of motion in the ankles, which is especially important for those who sit most of the day and then try to train functional exercises like squats.
Another exercise that uses a stretch band to flex your ankle by pulling your toes toward you (dorsiflexion) is also recommended.
To perform this exercise, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Secure the band around a chair leg or a table leg, and then wrap it around one foot. Point your toes slowly forward and then back, releasing the tension. Do 3 sets of 10 flexes on each foot, three days a week.
Incorporating these banded mobility exercises into a workout routine can help improve ankle mobility and prevent injuries during physical activity.
Use myofascial release
Myofascial release of the calf and foot can help with ankle mobility. Myofascial release is a technique that involves applying pressure to the muscles and fascia to relieve tension and improve range of motion.
Self-myofascial release using a foam roller on the calf can increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM) and reduce the stiffness of the gastrocnemius. The study found that self-myofascial release using a foam roller on the calf is an effective method for decreasing the stiffness of the gastrocnemius and increasing ankle dorsiflexion ROM.
Releasing the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot can also improve ankle mobility as this tissue is connected to the calf muscles. Using a lacrosse ball or golf ball, stand or roll your foot for at least 5 minutes twice a day. This technique is especially beneficial for those who stand on their feet all day.
Regular self-myofascial release for your ankles will help increase your range of motion, reduce injuries, and allow for more strength. Rolling out your calves with a foam roller as well as massaging the soles of your feet with a ball are two ways to perform self-myofascial release on your ankles
Release your hip tightness
Tight hips can cause knee pain because the knee seldom works in isolation, and activities that often cause knee pain require the feet, ankles, legs, and hips to move together in a coordinated manner.
When the hip is tight or lacks flexibility to turn inward at the same time as pronation of the foot, a tug-of-war ensues between the upper and lower leg, and the knee joint is caught in the middle. This stress to the knee can lead to muscle and soft tissue restrictions and subsequent hip immobility.
Releasing tight hips can reduce knee pain by enabling the leg to rotate more freely in the hip socket and take stress and strain off the knees. Massaging and stretching hip flexor muscles will help improve their function, posture, decrease stress, prevent aches and pains associated with hip-flexor tightness.
Myofascial release techniques such as foam rolling and massage can also help release tightness.
There are several exercises that one can do at home to stretch and strengthen lower extremities.
These exercises include straight leg raises, clamshells, bridges, lunges, squats, hamstring curls using resistance bands or weights.
Stretching exercises like kneeling position stretches are also great for encouraging hips to move forward under the spine so that your lower back does not have to bear all of your weight
Knee pain can be caused by inflammation, which can be reduced through various methods. One way to reduce inflammation is to limit foods high in sugar, as they trigger the release of inflammatory messengers known as cytokines. Another way is to consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids or take a fish oil supplement, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and stiffness. A Third way is to use a couple of the best supplements for knee pain, which can help relax muscles, decrease inflammation, and make your knee less sore.
Resting the knee and avoiding weight-bearing activities for 24 hours or more can also help reduce knee swelling and pain. While applying ice is the typical recommendation to reduce pain in the knee, I suggest using heat the majority of the time.
It’s the alternative to ice, and I find it better to improve knee pain. When you use heat, you’ll need to gently bent and straight it often and use a tensor bandage to keep it from swelling up.
Additionally, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce swelling and inflammation of the knee joint and relieve pain. I don’t like it because it can probably delay the healing process.
Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise or dietary changes can also help alleviate arthritis symptoms by reducing inflammation levels in the body. Even losing between 5% and 10% of body weight has been shown to significantly lower inflammation levels.
Exercise may also be helpful in maintaining strong knees and preventing knee damage and swelling.
It is important to consult a doctor if swelling of the knee joint does not improve with several days of rest and home care or if other symptoms such as redness, warmth around the knee, fever, or an inability to straighten the knee joint persist
Preventing Knee Pain
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can put extra pressure on your knees, which can lead to knee pain.
Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles around your knees and reduce your risk of injury.
Wear Proper Shoes: Wear shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support for your feet and ankles.
Stretch Before and After Exercise: Stretching can help warm up your muscles before exercise and prevent injury.
Use Proper Technique: When exercising or playing sports, use proper technique to avoid putting extra stress on your knees.
In conclusion, knee pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, and the symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. By understanding the anatomy of the knee and taking steps to prevent injury, you can reduce your risk of knee pain. If you do experience knee pain, rest and ice are the first steps in treatment. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary. By following these tips, you can get rid of knee pain and improve your overall knee health.