From twinges to trouble: why does my knee hurt?
Knees – those unassuming joints that bear the weight of our world, quite literally. Our knees power us through daily routines, sports, and adventures, supporting our every step. But what happens when they start sending signals of distress in the form of pain? "Why does my knee hurt?" is a question many of us have asked at some point in our lives.
Knee pain can significantly impact your mobility and overall well-being. By understanding the causes and symptoms of knee pain, you can empower yourself to take proactive steps toward better knee health.
Why does my knee hurt?
The human knee is a complex network of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons working together to provide stability and mobility.
However, this intricate design also makes the knee vulnerable to various factors leading to pain and discomfort.
Let's explore some of the common reasons behind that nagging knee pain.
- Sprains and strains. Overstretching or tearing ligaments and tendons due to sudden movements or impacts.
- Fractures. Breaks in the bones that make up the knee joint, such as the femur, tibia, or patella.
- Torn meniscus. Damage to the wedge-shaped cartilage between the thigh and shinbone (meniscus) from twisting or heavy lifting.
- Osteoarthritis. This wear-and-tear type of arthritis affects the protective cartilage on the ends of bones, leading to pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune condition that causes your body's defense system to mistakenly attack the lining around your joints, called the synovium.
- Overuse and strain. Repetitive movements, especially in sports or certain occupations, can lead to overuse injuries and knee pain over time.
- Age and wear-and-tear. As we age, the natural wear-and-tear on the knee joint can result in degenerative joint disease.
Other medical conditions.
- Gout. The buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint often causes sudden and severe pain.
- Infections. Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can lead to knee joint infections (septic arthritis).
- Tumors. Though rare, certain benign or malignant tumors can cause pain in the knee joint.
- Mechanical issues. Problems with the alignment of the knee joint, such as patellar tracking disorder, can lead to knee pain.
It's important to note that not all knee pain indicates a severe problem. Still, it's always wise to consult a healthcare provider at your local CityMD to determine the root cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
How do I know if my knee pain is serious?
Knee pain can range from mild discomfort to severe agony. While many cases of knee pain are manageable at home, it's essential to discern when knee pain might signify a more serious issue.
- Pain intensity. Severe, unbearable, or sharp pain is a red flag that should alert you to see a physician.
- Swelling. Excessive or persistent swelling warrants attention.
- Weight-bearing. Seek medical care if you can't put weight on your knee or it buckles.
- Fever. Knee pain with a fever may signal infection; seek immediate care.
- Deformities. Visible structural changes suggest a severe injury.
- Chronic pain. Prolonged or recurring pain merits an evaluation.
- Recent trauma. If your pain follows a significant injury, consult a healthcare provider.
Knee pain can be disruptive, but there are ways to find relief.
- Rest and elevation. Give your knee a break and elevate it when possible, to reduce swelling.
- Ice and heat. Apply ice for the first 48 hours, then switch to warm compresses for comfort.
- Over-the-counter pain relief. Consider non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Always follow appropriate dosages.
- Supportive measures. A knee brace or compression sleeve may help, depending on your condition.
- Exercises. If recommended, do specific exercises to strengthen the knee and improve flexibility.
- Weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces knee joint stress.
- Orthotics. Correct alignment with orthotics or shoe inserts if needed.
- Hydration and nutrition. Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet for healing.
- Avoid high-impact activities. Give your knee a break from high-impact activities or exercises.
- Consult a provider. If pain persists, consult a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and tailored treatment plan at CityMD.
Treating knee pain with CityMD.
When knee pain disrupts your life, addressing it promptly and effectively is essential. From understanding the causes and symptoms to knowing when to seek professional care, you've gained valuable insights into managing knee pain.
At CityMD, we’re here to support your journey to good knee health. Our experienced healthcare providers are skilled in diagnosing and treating many knee issues. We prioritize your comfort and mobility, aiming to get you back to the activities you enjoy as quickly as possible.
We’re ready to care for you.
Visit any CityMD urgent care location in your community today for an evaluation with one of our expert providers.