Knee Pain

Almost everyone has experienced a minor knee difficulty at some time or another. More often than not our bodily actions don't create problems, but it's unsurprising that symptoms develop from day-to-day deterioration, excessive use, or injuries. Knee issues and traumas generally take place in the course of sporting activities or leisure activities, work-related duties, or household tasks.

The knee is the biggest joint in the entire body. The top and lower bones of the knee are separated by two discs (menisci). The top leg bone (femur) and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) are linked by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The surface of the bones within the knee joint is protected by articular cartilage, which absorbs shock and gives a sleek, sliding surface for joint mobility. See an illustration of the components of the knee. Although knee problems are often the result of an injury to one or more of these structures, they may have other causes. Some people are more prone to get knee problems than others. There are many factors that can increase the likelihood of knee injuries. Age, activity level, sporting activities and other medical conditions can play a role.

Sudden (acute) injuries

Knee problems are mostly caused by injuries. Acute (sudden) injuries may be caused by a blow to the knee or from abnormal twisting, or bending the knee, or falling on the knee. Pain, bruising, or swelling can be severe and develop within minutes of the injury. Nerves or blood vessels may be nipped or damaged due to the injury. The knee or lower leg may feel weak, numb, or cold; It might tingle, or look blue or pale. Acute injuries include:

  • Strains, sprains, or other injuries to the tendons and ligaments that connect and support the kneecap.
  • Tears in the rubbery cushions of the meniscus (knee joint).
  • Tears in the ligaments. The most commonly injured ligament of the knee is the medial collateral ligament (MCL).
  • Fractures of the kneecap, lower part of the femur, or upper part of the tibia or fibula. Knee fractures are most often caused by an abnormal force, such as falling on your knee, a severe twisting motion, or any severe force that bends the knee, or if your knee hits an object with great force.
  • Dislocation of the kneecap. This occurs most frequently in 13 to 18-year-old girls. Bits of bone or tissue from fractures or dislocations may get trapped in the joint and get in the way of movement.
  • Dislocation of the knee joint. This is a rare injury that would only come from great force. It is a serious injury and would require immediate medical care.

Injuries arising from Overuse

Overuse injuries happen with repetitive activities or prolonged or repeated pressure on the knee. Activities like climbing stairs, jogging, bicycle riding, or jumping stress joints and other tissues and can lead to inflammation and irritation. Overuse injuries include:

  • Bursitis, which is inflammation of the small sacs of fluid that cushion and lubricate the knee.
  • Tendinitis, which is inflammation of the tendons or small tears in the tendons (tendinosis).
  • Plica syndrome, which is thickening or folding of the knee ligaments.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is pain in the front of the knee from injury, overuse, excess weight, or problems in the kneecap.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome, which is irritation and inflammation of the band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh.
"This is the MOST amazing place with expert training in manual physical therapy which surpasses any of my prior experiences with physical therapy. I knew from the first day that I went to therapy that I was in the right place. After having microfracture surgery to grow new cartilage eight years ago, I have not been able to extend my knee properly even after 9 months of physical therapy. After getting an infection in my leg in September of 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, I had widespread swelling requiring having the knee drained multiple times. For over three months, I lost all my ability to use my knee and to walk. The MRI revealed I have very little cartilage left. I went through PRP stem cell injections with Dr. Adam Weglein to address the residual swelling as well as to regrow new cartilage. He recommended Atkinson Physical Therapy. Having Teresa Atkinson's expertise has been an indescribable blessing for me. She is a wealth of knowledge and knew exactly how to address my flexion and extension difficulties which no one has ever been able to do. I am walking again, and I continue to make the progress that I have desperately wanted. The massage therapist, Sam, is outstanding and has incredible knowledge. His techniques are so unique and helpful in relieving pain. Sophie, and the other rehab specialists, are so knowledgeable and caring. They always take time to address the problems that you are having. The office staff are friendly and efficient and even give you a text to remind you of your appointment. This practice makes you feel more like life long friends. I appreciate them more than I will ever be able to express."
Mar 22, 2018
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