One of the most common types of complaint by elderly people is knee pain. There are so many things which can contribute to the occurrences of knee pain part of which include injury, for example, the rupture of ligament or torn cartilage. Other causes of knee pain are medical conditions such as arthritis, gout, and infections among others.
Different types of minor knee pain respond well to personal care measures. The use of physiotherapy and knee braces can also assist to alleviate knee pain. In a more serious case, surgery may be needed to treat knee pain.
Symptoms of Knee Pain
The point at which the pain appears on the knee and how serious the pain is may differ and this has to do with the causes of the pain. Below are the signs and symptoms that follow knee pain:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Redness and warmth to the touch
- Weakness or instability
- Popping or crunching noises
- Inability to fully straighten the knee
When to visit your Physiotherapist
- Your knee does not support the weight
- You have marked knee swelling
- You find it very difficult to fully extend or flex your knee
- A palpable deformity appears on your leg or knee
- You have a fever, accompanied with redness, pain, and swelling in your knee
- There is a kind of instability on your knee
What are the Causes of Knee Pain?Injuries, mechanical problems, the types of arthritis and other problems can cause knee pain.
A knee injury can affect any part of the knee such as the ligaments, tendon or fluid-filled sacs (bursae) which surround your knee as well as the bones, cartilage, and ligaments which forms the joint. Below are some of the common knee injuries:
- ACL Injuries: This is the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This is one of the four ligaments that link the shinbone to your femur. This type of knee injury is common in individuals who play sports such as basketball, football or other sports that require sudden changes in direction.
- Dislocation: Dislocation is very common, most especially among athletes and sportsmen. It occurs as a result of partial or complete misalignment or dislocation of the bones of the knee. The scenario would be a misaligned patella. The dislocation that occurs as a result of an abnormal knee is rare. Most of the time is due to high energy shocks, such as a traffic accident or a fall in the high place.
- Torn Meniscus: Torn Meniscus usually happens during high-speed events, especially during sports activities. During the tackle, there is a tear in the meniscus, after a sudden twist or when someone turns in a wrong direction. It is also very common in elderly people (because meniscus is particularly sensitive) and in people suffering from chronic diseases such as arthritis.
- Fractures: This is the breaking of the bone of the knee including the kneecap during collisions that involve a motor vehicle or falls from a high place. People whose bone is weakened by osteoporosis may sometimes have a knee fracture simply by stepping in a wrong place.
- Torn Tendons: This occurs as a result of the over-stretch of the knee tendons and which torn-normally the patella and quadriceps tendons. This can happen to anyone, even if it is more common among athletes. Severe falls or landings uncomfortably on the knee can tear the tendons.
- Sprained Ligaments: The holding together and proper positioning of the knee joint is a duty performed by the ligaments. In the event that the ligaments are over-stretched far beyond their capacity, they bear the risk of spraining. Excessive force directed to the knee joint or sudden twisting are potentially harmful to ligaments. The causes of swelling in the knee and what follows is a pain. The most common injured ligament is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), which can be found at the center of the joint.
Numerous factors can increase the risk of knee problems, some of them are listed below:
- Excessive Weight: when you are overweight or obesity, these increases stress on the knee joints, even during regular activities such as walking or climbing up or down. It also increases the risk of osteoarthritis by speeding up the breakdown of joint cartilage.
- Lack of Muscle Flexibility or Strength: Lack of strength and flexibility is one of the major causes of knee injuries. Muscle is tight or weak, it offers less knee support because they do not absorb enough of the stress put on the joint.
- Previous Injuries: Having a knee injury in the past makes it possible for another knee injury to occur once again.
What is important to understand about knee pain is that not all of them are serious. However, some knee injuries and medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, may result in increased pain, joints damage and disabilities if not treated. Even minor knee injuries increase the risk of similar injuries in the future.
First Aid to an Injured Knee
It is always advisable to do first aid after an injury and for a knee injury, carefully follow the steps listed below and adhere to them carefully;
- Always stop current activity
- Do not overwork the joint and do not walk through the pain
- Use ice packs on your knees to reduce swelling or possible internal bleeding.
- Use the bandage around your knees and wrap some part of the lower leg
- Ensure that the injured leg is in the upright position
- Avoid massaging the joints even if it itches because they can swell or bleed more
- Contact your doctor immediately
In the event that you have a knee injury, carry out some first aid and then refer the patient to a medical facility for further examination and treatment.
Diagnosis of Knee Pain
During a medical examination, your doctor will probably:
- Check your knee for swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth, and visible bruising.
- Conduct a check how it is easy for you to move your leg in different directions
- Do a kind of push or a pull on the joint in order to evaluate the integrity of the knee structure
In some cases, your physiotherapist may suggest imaging and laboratory tests such as:
- Computerised tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging
Treatment Options for Knee Pain
Physiotherapy is one of the types of treatment options for knee pain.
Treatment differs and it depends on the cause of knee pain and injury specificity. In the case of strain or overuse injuries, taking some rest and using ice usually, allow the knee to cure over time.
Treatment may also include the management of the pain and with the use of drugs. In most cases, it may be required of an individual to rest for a while.
Bracing, popping or surgery may be needed for knee injuries which are caused by ears or those that are trauma-induced. In the event of an operation, an individual will probably not be able to use the knee after surgery, and during recovery may need to have crutches or a wheelchair.
In some cases, physiotherapy may be needed to help the person recover the movement and strength in their knees and legs.