Anatomy and Function
The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most common complaints that affect people of all age groups.
The knee contains the distal femur and proximal tibia, the head of the fibula and the patella (knee cap). The knee also contains 4 major ligaments that are connected to the bones. The meniscus (medial and lateral) are soft cartilage cushion that helps the knee absorb shock.
Knee pain can be caused from a wide variety of injuries or degenerative conditions. Many of these problems are treated with conservative treatment such as, physical therapy or knee braces.
Meniscal Tears – Cartilage tears are common in all age groups. They are an extremely common cause for knee pain. Symptoms can range from pain, locking, and catching when walking, swelling, and difficulty squatting. Physical exam and if needed an MRI can demonstrate if there is an injury to the meniscus. For swelling, ice and anti-inflammatory medication and for acute injuries surgery is sometimes recommended.
- Patellar Tendonitis – Or jumper’s knee is caused by overuse or repeat stress put on the patellar tendon. The pain is usually directly over the patellar tendon. A diagnosis is usually made by a physical exam from the doctor. Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication is common treatment.
- Chondromalacia – An abnormal softening of cartilage under the kneecap. This is sometimes a result of poor alignment of the kneecap. Patients complaints vary greatly and can start with pain that gets worse with activity or going up and down stairs, pain with prolonged sitting, tightness in the knee, or a grinding sound. Rest and anti-inflammatory medication to let the inflammation die down followed by supervised physical therapy is often the treatment needed. Surgery is recommended if pain persists after conservative measures.
- Osteoarthritis – A slowly progressive degenerative disease where the cartilage on the end of the bones wears away over time. Usually affecting people middle-aged to older people. Pain, swelling, stiffness, “locking” or “buckling” are common symptoms. X-rays are typically ordered to show any loss of join space in the knee. Conservative treatments range from knee braces and therapy to cortisone or fluid joint therapy. If pain persist and does not respond to conservative treatment there are several surgical options.