Knee pain can affect people of all ages, sizes, and activity levels. For some people, the pain can be so severe that they cannot participate in daily life. Here are some common causes of knee pain and how to prevent them.
Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
Arthritis is painful inflammation and stiffness of the joins that can affect all the joints in the body, especially the knees. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, rheumatic diseases, and related conditions. Approximately 350 million people worldwide suffer with arthritis, so it’s no surprise that arthritis would appear on a list of common causes of knee pain.
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage wears away and changes occur in the bones of the joints. This can be caused by injury or being overweight. Generally, osteoarthritis begins at the age of 50 or older, but a young person has a chance of inheriting the disease.
Arthritis cannot be prevented, but there are several things that you can do to avoid flare-ups. For osteoarthritis, using medicines such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can reduce pain in the joint. In other cases, injections of corticosteroids can be administered straight to the knee for long-term relief.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another issue that affects many people worldwide. The average onset of RA is between 30 and 60, although it can affect younger people, as it is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system attacks the components of your knees, inflaming the joint and causing pain. This type of arthritis attacks the membranes that line the joint and can lead to destruction of cartilage, bone, and muscle.
The use of aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen generally has no effect on the pain. Relief from RA commonly comes in the form of disease-modifying antiheumatic drugs. These are medicines that stop the immune system from attacking the joints. These medicines may also reduce the damage done by RA. Common disease-modifying antiheumatic drugs include methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, and leflumoide.
Gout is another type of arthritis that affects 6 million people worldwide. It’s intensely painful and occurs when crystals of uric acid are deposited in the joints. This type of arthritis can cause pain, swelling, redness, heat, and stiffness of the knee. The chances of having gout can be increased if you drink too much, are a man, are overweight, or have a family member with the disease.
Gout is treated a few different ways, but the most common is with anti-inflammiatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Corticosteroids may also be used to treat gout-related knee pain. Dietary changes can decrease the risk of gout if you eat a low-cholesterol and low-fat diet. Reducing your intake of alcohol and avoiding fructose will also decrease the chances of suffering from this condition.
Chondromalacia, also known as chondromalacia patelle, is the softening of the cartilage under the knee cap. This can cause the wearing away of the kneecap, which in turn causes inflammation and pain. This is a condition that happens most often in young adults and can be caused by injury, overuse, or misalignment of the kneecap. The damage can range from slightly abnormal to extensive.
Chondromalacia can be prevented by maintaining strength of the leg. Strong quadriceps and hip abductor muscles help keep the knee balanced during activity. Avoiding any impact with the knee is another important prevention tactic. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces stress on the knee.
Sprains can be debilitating. A sprain occurs when there is a sudden, twisting motion that stretches or tears a ligament. In the knee, this is usually the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The cause of the sprain most commonly occurs due to a direct impact, such as a car accident or sports injury.
To prevent a tear a sprain that could lead to knee pain, strengthen the muscles located around the knee. The quadriceps and glutes are two muscles you should work on. Also, avoid overworking the muscles to prevent weakness. Recovery is another important aspect if you’ve already suffered a sprain. Inadequate healing can cause the pain to persist months or years after the sprain is occurred, so allow plenty of time to rest.