Knee pain cause definition

Knee pain is an affliction in the knee joint area. Older people suffer from knee pain very often since the cause is mostly wear and tear of the articular cartilage, and those affected suffer from gonarthrosis. However, knee pain sometimes occurs in younger people, and even children and adolescents can be affected by it.

Triggers for knee pain

An important trigger for knee pain can be a meniscal tear. A meniscal tear can either be caused by an injury during sports or is the consequence of chronic wear and tear. Additional triggers for knee pain can be knee arthrosis or a cruciate ligament rupture. Wear and tear as well as overloading and stress can also be frequent causes for knee pain.

The knee joint

Knee joint
The knee joint

The knee joint connects the two strongest and longest bones in the human body with each other, the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shinbone). Both menisci, the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus, are located between these bones in the joint. These are two crescent-shaped discs of cartilage which serve as buffers. The bony knee cap (patella) lies in front of these discs like a type of quasi protective shield. The knee joint is stabilized by ligaments and muscles. The collateral ligaments run along the inside and the outside of the knee joint, and both the posterior (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) run across it.

Type of knee pain gives clues for the cause

Diseases, injuries or strain from one or more of these elements often trigger knee problems. Knee pain may express itself in different ways depending on which cause exists, and it can come in many forms: sometimes it is only expressed during exertion, such as while climbing stairs, going downhill while hiking or after sports. However, at other times it appears quite suddenly at night in bed or is rather a constant companion, and it can be either dull throbbing, sharp or chronic. They all have something in common: they provide the first important clues to the cause. Then those who are affected will know which self-help is possible and when they should turn to a specialist for the further treatment of knee problems. Treatment can be conservative, hence without any surgery, or via a surgery.

Pressing, pulling or sharp knee pain

Knee pain is described by those who are affected as pressing, pulling or sharp. It is sometimes accompanied by inflammatory swelling.  Additionally, the knee may feel very warm to the touch and there may be limited mobility.

Type of treatment

The triggers of pain in the knee also determine the type of treatment. It is often enough to protect the knee by elevating it, reducing movement and strain on it. If the knee is inflamed and swollen, it may help to cool the joint. A cruciate ligament rupture often requires a minimally invasive surgical procedure by an experienced physician to avoid long-term damage such as knee arthrosis. A meniscal tear must also be treated by a specialist to avoid cartilage wear and tear in the future.

The following causes are possible for knee pain: