Many of us plug along in the daily routine of work and responsibilities despite aches and pains. This is especially true as we get older. It is common for the aches and pains to become part of the everyday landscape of our lives. This discomfort, however, may be unnecessary. In fact, when it comes to knee pain, treatment options have evolved and there is a lot that can be done to treat mild to severe knee injuries. The following information explores some common knee issues and solutions to treat the pain.
Common Knee Problems
The knee consists of bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage — all of which tolerate a lot of strain throughout an average day. Add an active lifestyle, such as physical work demands, playing sports, and regular workouts, and there is often knee discomfort and even injury. The most common knee problem typically involves the ligaments or cartilage.
Cartilage and Ligament Damage
The cartilage in the knee is often referred to as the “meniscus.” The meniscus acts as a cushion for the bones that meet in the knee joint. When the knee is twisted in an awkward way, the meniscus may become stressed and tear. This type of damage is common in sports injuries. Arthritis and aging can also lead to injury. The typical symptoms with this type of injury include aches, pain, stiffness, feeling that the knee is locked in place, and even difficulty straightening the leg.
There are four major ligaments in the knee. The job of the ligaments is to connect the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia and fibula (shin or lower leg) and support the knee joint in its movements. Aging and active lifestyles, however, can test the ligaments beyond their capability. As a result, the knees are vulnerable to injury. Of the four major ligaments in the knee, the most likely to get injured is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is particularly vulnerable when it comes to the physical demands of many sports. The ACL participates in the rotation of the knee as well as the tibia moving forward. When a person stops suddenly and quickly changes direction, a lot of strain is put on the ACL leading to a high incidence of sport-related injury. A loud pop at the time of injury, pain, and swelling are among the common symptoms.
Surgery Versus Non-Surgery Treatments
In addition to aches and pains, one of the biggest setbacks with knee injuries is that the knee may feel like it will give out at random times. There also may be limited mobility such as difficulty bending or straightening the knee. Whether or not surgery is in your future depends on the severity of the issue. A slight tear to the ACL or meniscus may simply require a brace and rest for a short period of time while it heals. A more significant tear could mean surgery. It is advised that you consult with a doctor, like a knee doctor from Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania, who can conduct an assessment and further advise you on the next step. He or she may refer you to a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon, if the injury warrants a closer look. The orthopedic surgeon will likely take x-rays to assess the health of the bones and an MRI to look at the soft tissues, such as ligaments and cartilage.