Knee Pain: Causes & Treatment

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Many people suffer from knee pain. There are also many causes for knee pain. This lesson goes over many common ones as well as general treatment options for knee pain.

Knee Pain

Until knee pain hits you, you might unknowingly take those precious knees of yours for granted. We don't even think about them consciously until they hurt. But knee pain can be really severe in some people, to the point of not allowing them to properly move around. Why? Well, they may have one of many different conditions or causes that lead to these conditions. So let's go over the many different causes of knee pain and some potential treatment options.

Causes Of Knee Pain

There are many structures involved in the anatomy of a knee.

The most obvious cause of knee pain is some sort of injury. But an injury to what? The knee is actually quite a complex structure involving several bones, ligaments (which connect bones), tendons (which connect bones to muscle), and other structures.

A very famous cause of knee pain is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which connects a person's femur; the thighbone, to their tibia; the shinbone. Think of the ACL as a very strong piece of string that prevents these bones from moving too far past one another.

Like the ACL, people can tear a meniscus. A meniscus is like a shock absorber for the knee. The menisci of the knee are located between the femur and the tibia.

Your knee also has pillow-like cushions called bursae, plural for bursa. They help cushion the spaces between tendons and bones. If a bursa is inflamed due to an injury, this is called knee bursitis, and can cause knee pain. The main tendon of the knee, called the patellar tendon, can experience inflammation and pain as well, something called patellar tendinitis. Finally, another very common injury related to knee pain is a fracture, or break in one or more bones of the knee.

The problem with a broken leg bone, including a broken foot bone, is that it may change the way you walk. For example, if you break or severely injure one leg, you may put more pressure on the other leg in order to avoid causing pain to the already injured leg. This isn't good. Over the long run, this can damage the knee joint and it is one possible reason behind arthritis, inflammation and destruction of a joint, in this case the knee joint.

Arthritis comes in many flavors, including the degenerative (wear and tear) kind, called osteoarthritis, the infectious type, called septic arthritis, and the autoimmune type, called rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune means the body's protective cells and molecules actually attack and begin to destroy the body itself.

Treatment Of Knee Pain

The following list outlines some of the many general types of treatment that can pertain to many of the conditions we went over. These treatment options include:

  • Pain relieving medication
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which help relieve inflammation and the destructive processes related to inflammation.
  • Drugs that suppress or modify the immune system
  • Muscle relaxants, which can also aid in pain relief
  • Antibiotics, drugs that kill bacteria that may be the cause of septic arthritis
  • Surgery
  • Physical rehabilitation, which may include strength training, stretching, and the loss of excess weight to ease the knee pain.

Lesson Summary

Knee pain has many causes, including:

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