What Causes Knee Pain?

People of any age can deal with knee pain from time to time. Pain in the knee can be caused by medical conditions, such as arthritis, or an injury to the knee. While knee pain often responds very well to rest and self-care at home, sometimes more drastic interventions are needed, such as physical therapy.

The Most Common Causes of Pain

Wondering what causes knee pain? Some of the most common knee problems include runner’s knee, sprained ligaments, meniscus tears, tendinitis, and lack of use. Here’s a look at some of the other common problems that may result in knee pain.

  • Kneecap Dislocation – When the kneecap slides out of its normal position, it’s known as a dislocation, and this often results in swelling and knee pain.
  • Bursitis – The bursa is the sac holding fluid under the skin right above the joint, and it works to prevent friction when you move the joint. Falls, repetitive kneeling or bending, and overuse may irritate the bursa on your kneecap, resulting in swelling and knee pain.
  • Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is known as “wear and tear” arthritis, and it’s a common cause of knee pain in people over the age of 50. It may cause your knee to swell or ache when you are active, and it may cause stiffness as well.
  • IT Band Syndrome – Your iliotibial (IT) band is a tough piece of tissue running from the hip all the way to the outer part of the knee. If you are very active, sometimes it can become inflamed. When this occurs, it results in pain on the outside of your knee. IT band syndrome is very common among runners who regularly run downhill.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome – Muscle tightness, alignment issues with the legs, and muscle imbalances can cause this problem. It may make the knee suddenly buckle and can cause a lot of pain. This syndrome is more common in women.
  • Patellar Tendinitis – Patellar tendinitis occurs when one of the tendons connecting your kneecap to the shin becomes inflamed. Over exercising can cause the inflammation and soreness. It’s often referred to as “jumper’s knee” since repetitive jumping is commonly the cause.
  • Meniscal Tear – Injury to the knee may result in a rip to the cartilage. The rough edges of the cartilage sometimes stick in the joint causing swelling and knee pain. Sometimes when you’re active, it may even feel like the knee is “catching.”

Many different things can cause knee pain, and not all knee pain requires treatment. However, some cause of knee pain can result in serious disability or joint damage if left untreated.

While it’s impossible to completely prevent knee pain, some methods to prevent injury and joint deterioration include being in good shape when playing sports, exercising smart, and keeping the extra pounds off. If you’re dealing with knee pain that won’t resolve on its own, consider seeing your doctor or a physical therapist to find the root cause of your pain.

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