Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Pain in or around the knee may indicate a condition affecting the joint itself or the surrounding tissue. Many different conditions cause knee pain, as it can be considered secondary to underlying disease or be caused by non-disease factors. Being overweight, muscle weakness and sports requiring agility are common risk factors. Knee pain may be accompanied by swelling, stiffness, skin redness, and popping or crunching sounds.
In general, situations that place excessive stress on the knee can result in injury and subsequent pain. The lower body’s role in bearing body weight during daily activities increases risk. Injuries, mechanical problems, and conditions that can lead to knee pain include:
- ACL injury
- Bone fracture, which can occur during falls or motor vehicle accidents
- Dislocated kneecap
- Inflammation of soft tissues caused by repetitive stress
- Knee arthritis
- Tear in the meniscus, which acts as a shock absorber in the knee
It is important to seek treatment if your knee can’t bear weight or has a limited range of motion. The patient’s history, physical exam, and further tests will determine the treatment approach. Medical imaging techniques, such as ultrasound, can help physical therapists and physicians to determine the extent of an injury or diagnose an underlying condition. Physical therapy exercises and stretching can improve strength and flexibility, increasing joint stability. Gait training and orthotics can help correct posture and form for sports. Neuromuscular re-education aims to retrain the nervous system to improve balance, coordination, and kinesthetic sense.