Knee pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. Your risk of knee pain is increased if you are overweight and/or out of shape as this causes stress on the knee joints and hastens the “wearing out” of knee joint cartilage, leading to osteoarthritis. There are many sports that are particularly tough on knees such as downhill skiing, basketball, tennis, and the repetitive knee pounding experienced by running. Previous knee injury increases the risk for future injury and accelerates degenerative changes in the knee.
Depending on the cause of your knee pain you might experience one or more symptoms that include stiffness, swelling, redness with a warm sensation to the touch, weakness and instability, “popping”, “grinding” or “crunching” sounds and a loss of the normal range of motion with an inability to fully straighten your knee.
Common causes of knee pain include osteoarthritis and traumatic injury. Knee injuries can affect the large ‘cups’ of cartilage that cushion the knee or any of the ligaments or tendons that support the knee. An ACL injury is the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament which is one of the four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone. An ACL injury is particularly common in people who play basketball, football, tennis, soccer or other sports that require sudden changes in direction. Other ligaments commonly injured include the medial and lateral collateral ligaments that stabilize the inside and the outside of you knee respectively. These are injured in hiking and contact sports including football, hockey, and rugby. Your meniscus is a tough rubbery cartilage that acts as a “shock absorber” between your shinbone and thighbone. It is possible to tear the meniscus if you twist suddenly while you are loading weight on your knee. A patellar tendinitis is an inflammation of the patellar tendon which connects the quadriceps muscle in the front of your thigh to the shinbone via the patella or ‘knee cap’. This is common in runners, skiers and cyclists as well as anyone participating in jumping sports such as high impact aerobics or plyometrics.