Your knees take a lot of wear and tear. Whether you play sports, live an active lifestyle, or spend long periods of time on your feet, that stress tends to get transferred down your legs and into your knees. That's why it's so important to take the proper steps when you are dealing with knee joint pain.
Anatomy Of The Knee Joint
The human knee is the connecting point of three bones: the femur, the strongest bone in the body and located in your thigh, and the tibia and fibula, which are in your lower leg. The knee acts as the connector between all three, performing the functions that allow your legs to hinge. The patella, your kneecap, is located in the front of your knee to provide protection.
The femur is connected to the tibia, the larger of the two bones in the shin, through two ligaments. The anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL and PCL), in fact, are the deciding factor in keeping your femur and tibia from sliding forward or backward on an ongoing basis. Meanwhile, the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL) help to keep your femur from sliding from side to side.
And of course, two pieces of cartilage in the knees (called the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus) help to absorb any shock that might occur from any type of activities. Finally, your knee is home to several fluid filled sacs, which help to ensure that the joint moves smoothly at all times.
You might already be familiar with many of these areas within your knee, particularly because they are common causes of sports injuries. Although knees can be repaired and even replaced, repairing your knee after you've had an injury does not mean it will go back to normal. Because over time, your knee has changed.
Common Problems for Knee Joint Pain
When you think about joint pain, it is typically associated with arthritis and old age. After walking around and participating in various physical activities for years and even decades, the cartilage in the knee joint slowly begins to deteriorate. This can cause your knees to become harder to move. And when you do move it, you can cause joint damage. Osteoarthritis is connected especially closely to age, but individuals who suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis also understand the struggle of living with daily joint pain.
But at the same time, joint pain is not just reserved for individuals who are older or aging. In fact, any one who has suffered knee injuries in the past can encounter the same problems. When a knee gets injured and repaired, think of it like a jar of pennies: although the jar has not been opened and all the same pennies remain in there over time, they won't remain in exactly the same order. And in between the new spaces and crevices that have formed, arthritis can set in and begin to cause pain.
Apart from arthritis, you can also encounter several other causes of knee joint pain. Bursitis, for example, can occur around the kneecap, making any effort to bend your knee both painful and difficult. Your bursa sac allows your knees to move without friction. But if it is overused, it can become irritated and inflamed, which will cause discomfort.
Another common cause of joint pain is tendonitis. Your tendons help to connect your muscles to your bones. As soon as they become overused or strained, you will begin to feel discomfort and, in most cases, joint pain. Finally, another potential cause for this type of knee joint pain is gaining weight.
The last problem is especially common for pregnant women. As they enter the later stages of pregnancy, many women will begin to have pain in their knees. That pain originates from the additional weight that is being placed on the knees. As a result, going up stairs or down stairs and bending at the knees can be difficult to perform without pain.
Solutions For Pain
When you are trying to combat your knee joint pain, there are several things you can do. Of course, if you are overweight, a great first option is to shed some of the extra pounds. It's important to understand that every pound you have gained equates to almost 4 additional pounds of pressure on your knees. So by losing as little as 10 pounds, you will have removed almost 40 pounds of that pressure from your knees. Of course, when you are exercising to lose weight, you should always try to pick exercises that are low impact, such as swimming, to reduce your risk of causing an injury.
If you have Rheumatoid arthritis or any other disease that can cause joint pain or even degeneration, your first choice should be to see a doctor. Many of these types of diseases will only get worse, which is why it's vital to see a doctor in order to get started on a treatment. Although treatments won't cure your disease, your doctor can subscribe medicines that help to slow progression and minimizes joint pain.
In addition, don't underestimate the potential impact of physical therapy as a way to help control and understand your knee joint pain. Although it may seem counter intuitive to exercise and put additional strain on your knees when you have sore joints, doing so can help to keep your knees more flexible. By increasing your flexibility and range of motion, you can actually help to reduce joint pain because your knee can move easily and feel less tight. Your physical therapist will be able to help you perform targeted stretches, as well as exercises designed to strengthen your knees and combat your knee joint pain.
Knee braces are also a great idea to help minimize your joint pain. A brace helps to provide your knee with support. So if you are having joint pain associated with moving your knee, or if your ligaments sustained an injury, a brace will help to stabilize your joint.
The stabilization you get from a knee brace is not only ideal for those recovering from surgery, but also anyone who suffers from arthritis. Because it provides much-needed support on an ongoing basis, you will actually reduce the strain that you put on your joint. Whether you need a brace for daily life activities, work, or sports, it can become a useful tool when dealing with any type of joint pain.
Knee pain is the second most chronic pain experienced by Americans. Whether you sprain, strain, tear, irritate, or simply wear out your knee, joint pain almost necessarily follows in many cases. When that happens, you need to take care of yourself by trying to maintain a healthy weight while also being sure to stretch and exercise your knees. Even if you already have joint pain, you can begin your steps now to improve the pain and your knee both in the short and long-term.
In fact, you can reduce your joint discomfort by strengthening your knees, wearing braces, or getting help from a medical professionals. For many people, achy joints are simply a part of aging or sports. But when you take the right steps to take care of your body, you will feel better. Young or old, joint pain in your knees can happen. To learn more about how our products can help you, please contact us.