Understanding the Common Causes of Knee Pain

From the moment you jump out of bed in the morning, your knees are hard at work, providing you with mobility, support, and range of motion. So, when knee pain strikes, the effect it has on your life can be considerable, essentially hampering your ability to make your way through the world.

At the Joint Preservation Institute of Iowa, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Goding and our team understand all too well how knee pain can effectively hijack your life. To give you a better idea about the many causes of knee pain, we outline some of the more common ones here.

Wear and tear

Given all that your knees are responsible for, it’s little wonder that they can succumb to the wear and tear, especially at the hands of degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis affects 32.5 million Americans, and of the many joints that can be affected by osteoarthritis, the knees are among the most common, especially as you age. In fact, 10% of men and 13% of women over the age of 60 struggle with knee osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage inside your knee, which protects your bones and facilitates easy movement, begins to break down. As a result, your bones are left to rub together, causing pain and inflammation.

Soft-tissue tears

Aside from being the largest joints in your body, your knees are among the most complex. These joints are formed by three bones, including your:

Holding these bones together are a host of soft-tissue components, including:

This last group of connective tissues is where many people encounter problems that lead to knee pain — namely ligament tears.

Your knees have two types of ligaments — collateral and cruciate ligaments — which work together to stabilize your knee and provide both sideways and forward-and-back movements.

If you pull one of these ligaments past their ability to hold, you can tear the tissue, either partially or completely.

Moving on from your ligaments, each of your knees contains two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage that provide cushioning between your femur and tibia. Called menisci, these soft tissues can be torn in an accident (usually twisting) or develop tears over time due to repeated stresses, which can lead to knee pain.

Rounding out the soft-tissue problems are tendon tears, which occur most often in people who engage in activities where there’s running and jumping (think basketball).

While we’ve concentrated on soft-tissue tears here, it’s important to note that all of these connective tissues can be sprained or strained, which can also lead to pain and swelling in your knees.

Broken bones

The last cause of knee pain we want to outline here are fractures, namely patella fractures. These types of injuries usually occur as a result of direct trauma to your knee, such as a fall or a collision on the playing field.

Finding relief from knee pain

Now that we’ve shared some of the more common causes of knee pain, we want to point out that we offer a wide range of treatments that address them all. From a cooled radiofrequency treatment called COOLIEF® to total knee replacement surgery, rest assured that we have the tools and the expertise to relieve your knee pain and restore your mobility.

If your knee is in pain, we urge you to contact one of our two office in West Des Moines and Corydon, Iowa, so that we can quickly identify and treat the problem.

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