Though not always taken seriously, knee pain can result in the loss of the ability to carry out normal daily functions. Our knees are critical in the movement of our legs and are essential for normal walking. The knee also bears much of the body’s weight therefore reducing the strain on the lower limbs. Our knees are vital for our daily lives.
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The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body. It consists of three compartments. The patella, commonly known as the knee cap, is the small bone that makes up the front of the knee. This bone is classified as a sesamoid bone. The description of a sesamoid bone refers to a little bone embedded in a capsule or tendon. The patella is embedded in tendons and measures up to 2 inches in an adult.
The knee joint is formed at the point where the femur (thigh bone) meets the tibia (shin bone). Other components of the knee joint include cartilage and ligaments which provide strength and stability to the knee joint.
Ligaments are the fibrous tissues that connect bones together. They have the ability to stretch therefore allowing movements in joints such as the knee. Injuries to the ligaments in the knee joint may result in knee pain. The pain felt as a result of an injury to the ligaments in the knee is usually felt immediately. Depending on the ligament injured, tenderness may be felt above the area of injury or deep within the knee. Ligament injuries cause pain even at rest and may be accompanied by swelling and a warm sensation. The pain usually becomes worse when bending the knee or when more weight is placed on the knee while standing or walking.
Treatment of knee pain resulting from ligament injuries depends on the severity of the injury. Initial treatment usually involves the application off ice packs to the knee, rest and elevation of the knee. Immobilization may involve the use of splints or braces for more serious injuries. Severe injuries of the ligaments may require open surgery to repair the damage.
The pressure between the two large bones that make the knee joint (the thigh bone and the shin bone) may result in friction. Cartilaginous tissue between these two bones disperses the pressure and friction between the two bones. This tissue is known as the meniscus. Tearing of the meniscus will result in Knee pain. The tearing results from sharp shearing forces that are caused by the rotation of the knee joint. These are commonly felt in rapid and sharp movements of the knee which are common in sports requiring fast body reactions.
Knee pain as a result of meniscus tears is more common with aging as a normal part of degeneration. There can be more than one tear. The pain is manifested as a popping sensation that becomes worse when carrying out activities requiring rotation of the knee. The patient may experience locking or instability in the knee joint. Other common causes of knee pain include fractures to the knee joint and straining of the knee joint tendons resulting in inflammation of the knee otherwise known as tendinitis.