What Does Knee Pain Indicate?

Is knee pain always a sign of arthritis?

If you are currently not in a coma or on an extended retreat with the main focus being to avoid contact with the rest of the world, you are constantly exposed to various forms of the media’s 24-hour assault of information, most of which seems to revolve around the problems created by our differences. What is more accurate, however, is the fact that we have far more in common than not. Nowhere is that more obvious than the fact that we share the same basic anatomy, which includes the aches, pains and more serious conditions that send us in search of medical assistance.  

One of the most common complaints that healthcare professionals hear is that of knee pain. At any given time in the U.S., one out of every five adults is experiencing some level of knee pain and difficulty with movement. Joint disorders, in general, are the second most common reason for doctor visits, according to a study that was conducted by the Mayo Clinic. Somewhat surprisingly, skin issues, like dermatitis, cysts and acne beat out joint problems for the number one spot. 

Our ability to do so many things is largely due to the incredible functionality of our joints. The knee joint, in particular, is crucial for walking, running, climbing stairs and even just getting out of bed in the morning. But the knee does more than basic hinged-joint type movements. It is capable of twisting and rotating while bearing the force of those often violent changes of direction and, at the same time, supporting the weight of the body.

Causes of Knee Pain

As a society, our life span is increasing, and we are also remaining active far longer than previous generations. While that is great news, it brings with it a corresponding increase in the likelihood of experiencing knee problems. Arthritis developing in the knee is generally assumed to be the main cause of knee issues, especially for those who are getting older, injuries and mechanical problems can also be responsible. Some of the most common causes of knee pain include: 

  • Arthritis – of the more than a hundred types of arthritis, the ones that tend to target the knee are:
    • Osteoarthritis – general wear and tear of the cartilage in the knee joint due to aging
    • Rheumatoid arthritis –autoimmune disease resulting in the body attacking the knee joint and creating painful swelling and stiffness
    • Posttraumatic arthritis – follows some sort of trauma or injury to the knee but may not develop until years following the incident
  • Runner’s knee – although more common among runners, non-runners can also develop this overuse or misalignment injury that occurs under the kneecap and is more technically referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome 
  • Torn meniscus – tears in the meniscus, the cartilage between the shin and thigh bones, is often the result of sudden twists or turns of the knee and leads to pain and inflammation
  • Referred pain –  from a hip injury or hip arthritis, as well as an inflamed spinal nerve whose pathway includes the knee, ie “sciatica” along the front of the thigh

All of these conditions, as well as many of the others, like bursitis, Osgood-Schlatter disease, patellar tendinitis, Iliotibial band syndrome, plica syndrome, anterior and posterior cruciate ligament injuries and others, should be treated seriously and in consultation with your physician. Diagnosis will be based on type and location of pain, when the pain was first experienced, recent trauma and medical history. The good news is that, while not all conditions that affect the knee can be cured or totally reversed, there are a lot of treatment options available that can significantly reduce pain and help to restore mobility. 

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians are committed to more than just treating your symptoms. We strongly believe that each individual is best served through an integrative treatment plan. We focus on finding the underlying cause and providing non-surgical, evidenced-based solutions tailored to your specific condition and needs. If you are experiencing knee pain or have questions about any other condition or service, we invite you to schedule a consultation by using our convenient online form by clicking here