Knee Pain Chiropractor
Your knees bear a lot of weight during the day, and they are vulnerable to conditions that cause pain at any age. Up to 46% of older people experience more chronic knee pain, but injuries and some conditions and diseases cause knee pain in people younger than that as well as children. Knee pain is frequent after a number of accidents, such as personal injury accidents, slip and fall accidents, car accidents, and more. Knee pain from an accident can be difficult to diagnose but even more difficult to live with. Figuring out knee pain treatment is important to help you live your life without constant discomfort.
One of the major reasons people experience knee pain is injury. This is especially true for athletes, but anyone of any activity level can get a knee injury. Injuries often occur due to falls, accidents, or other forms of physical trauma. If you’ve been in a car accident recently, you may have knee pain. This could be because your knee sustained an impact from the accident or because a nearby part of your body was injured. If you’ve sustained a sports injury or personal injury, you may know the movement or fall that caused the knee pain, and that can be helpful in getting a proper diagnosis.
Sprains and Strains
These common injuries are difficult to tell apart and happen frequently. A sprain is an injury related to your tendon, while strains occur within the muscle. Both sprains and strains tend to be relatively minor, although if you overuse the affected part of your body after injury, you increase the likelihood of damaging your tissues and causing chronic pain issues. Sprains and strains typically stem from overextension or awkward twisting of the knee, both of which are common in car accidents, sports injuries, slips and falls, and other personal injuries.
Behind your kneecap is a ligament that, alongside other bands of tissue, connects your femur and tibia and keeps them stable behind your kneecap. This ligament is known as the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, and it is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in your body, with between 100,000 and 200,000 cases being diagnosed yearly. That means 1 in 35 adults will experience an injury related to the ACL this year alone.
Injuries to the ACL are common in athletes. Researchers are also further collecting evidence that because women tend to have weaker hamstrings and gaits that favor the quadriceps but not the hamstrings, women then tend to be diagnosed with ACL injuries more frequently than men. The muscle groups involved are important because the ACL often tears due to extra stress during a sudden stop of the movement, and weak hamstring muscles that should take the stress tend to transfer it to the ACL instead.
ACL injuries require rest, and athletes or other people who want to get back to their normal lifestyle may find it difficult to follow their treatment plan. However, doing so can ensure that your recovery takes less time. Severe ACL injuries, on the other hand, can take up to nine months before your body is fully restored.
Another incredibly common knee injury is a tear of the meniscus. The meniscus refers to either one of the two menisci, or wedges of cartilage, that cushion the area where your tibia and femur meet, close to the ACL. The purpose of these wedges of cartilage is shock absorption, making sure that the impact of your foot against the ground does not cause undue damage to your bones. A meniscus tear usually occurs when the knee is twisted or rotated forcefully. They can also occur during squats, especially if you are carrying something heavy.
Meniscus tears make it difficult for you to walk, as their function becomes more limited. People who experience these injuries are often required to use mobility aids such as crutches or walkers for a time after their injury. However, fairly conservative treatment, consisting of rest, icing the affected area, and using over-the-counter pain medication, is often enough to help relieve pain. Sometimes, meniscus tears do require surgery. This often happens for people who have sustained this injury more than once or when the meniscus is damaged beyond what can be expected of normal recovery.
Bursitis is the inflammation of the small fluid-filled cushions that help keep your joints flexible. These sacs, filled with fluid, are called bursae, and they are especially prone to pain due to repetitive movement. Bursitis can stem from injuries, accidents, or wear and tear.
Bursitis is very common, affecting over 200,000 Americans each year. Because it is a disorder related to inflammation, the most common course of treatment is to use anti-inflammatory drugs. Usually, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, of the type available over the counter, are sufficient enough to relieve pain. However, sometimes more aggressive dosages are required.
Bursitis can last for months, and it can be chronic, with flares occurring every so often. It is usually accompanied by swelling or redness in the affected area. The RICE method is a helpful self-care intervention.
Your knee includes three different bones as well as cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues. The knee is supported by two main muscle groups. The bones are your femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). The ends of each bone are surrounded by cartilage to help protect the bone from the impact that occurs when you walk.
The quadriceps muscles are the strong muscles in the front of your thighs. Their job is to straighten the knees and to bring up your legs while walking. Your hamstring muscles are at the back of your thighs and are in charge of bending the knee.
Tendons connect the bones to the muscle, while ligaments are the elastic bands of tissue that connect bones to other bones. Some ligaments help support the flexibility of the joints, while others help with the stability of your legs.
Injuries to any part of your knee, including your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or cartilage, can cause pain. There are also diseases and other conditions of all of these parts, such as abnormal mechanical issues, that could contribute to your pain. Injuries can also wreak havoc on the structure of your knee and can negatively impact all the different components of the knee’s anatomy.
Symptoms of Knee Pain
The main symptom of knee pain is, of course, pain. However, pain is often coupled with other symptoms, either as a result of the pain or from whatever is causing the pain. Where you feel the pain and other symptoms, as well as the frequency and severity of symptoms, depends on a myriad of factors, including the problem that is causing the pain in the first place. Of course, there are also conditions that carry with them specific symptoms.
If you are experiencing knee pain of any form, it is also likely that you are experiencing one or more of the following:
- Swelling in the knee area
- Increased stiffness, making it difficult for you to stand
- Redness in the affected area
- Crepitus, which is a crunching or popping sound when you bend your knee
- Weakness that makes it difficult for you to stand on your feet
Other Causes of Knee Pain
Knee pain is, of course, not limited to that which is experienced as a result of injury. Several disorders and diseases can contribute to knee pain, while others experience mechanical problems with the way their body parts move and function together.
Arthritis is defined as inflammation or pain in the joint, and while most people are familiar with its most common types, especially rheumatoid arthritis, there are actually over a hundred different types of arthritis. It is extremely common, affecting around a third of the adult population in the United States, with numbers increasing with age. About 40% of men in the United States and nearly half of women will develop arthritis at some point in their lives.
Arthritis is usually accompanied by swelling and a sense of stiffness in the affected area. The swelling and pain may be worse in the morning after you wake up, and you may notice crepitus, or creaking, when you bend the joint. Some patients report their joints “locking” or being unable to move. Vigorous activity or even weather changes can cause your pain to flare.
Knee-related arthritis is one of the most common forms that affects adults, with a prevalence of up to 30% in adults over age 45. Arthritis that affects the knees can take many forms.
This form of arthritis is characterized by the degeneration of cartilage between the knees. As the cartilage wears away, the bones begin to rub against one another, causing pain. It develops slowly and worsens over time. It is a non-inflammatory version of arthritis and as such, cannot be treated with anti-inflammatory treatment options. Osteoarthritis may be worse on one side of your body than the other, or one knee can be affected more than the other.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that attacks multiple joints in your body. It usually affects both sides of your body to about the same degree. With rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation of the membrane that covers the joint causes pain and stiffness. It also softens the bone and makes it more difficult for you to walk.
This form of arthritis occurs after injury and takes time to develop. For example, a fracture in the knee may wear at your cartilage over time, causing arthritis later in life. Injuries that cause damage to ligaments and tendons can cause your joints to take on more stress, leading to arthritis over time.
Sometimes, your body is “put together” in a way that leads to pain, especially as you age. These conditions can cause significant pain and are sometimes hard to diagnose.
Have you ever met someone who claims to be “double-jointed”? Most likely, this person’s extreme flexibility comes from hypermobility, characterized by joints that are much more flexible than is normal. Most people with hypermobility feel no pain, but for some, it can cause significant pain in the joints, as well as frequent injury, chronic fatigue, and bowel issues.
Hypermobility usually affects women more than men and is most frequently diagnosed in people of Asian and Afro-Caribbean descent. It is diagnosed using a series of tests and a physical exam in which the doctor measures your ability to bend in specific ways.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
There is a band of tissue, or tendon, on the outside of your knee and hip, known as the iliotibial band. If it gets too tight, it can rub against your hip and knee bones and cause pain. People who exercise frequently or who participate in sports are especially vulnerable to this condition. You might also be more likely to develop it if you are bowlegged, have legs that are different lengths, rotate your ankle or foot too much inwards when you walk or have weakness in your core muscles. Frequent runners are another vulnerable population.
This condition, also known as “runner’s knee,” is a softening of the cartilage in the patella (kneecap). It is common among young athletes as well as older people. It can also occur as a result of knee arthritis.
Some people, when they walk or run, move their kneecaps improperly. That improper movement causes the cartilage in the patella to rub against the end of your femur, wearing away the cartilage at a faster rate than it would otherwise. Your gait could be affected by a congenital condition, weak leg muscles, muscle imbalances between muscle groups, repetitive stress such as that occurs when running, or direct physical trauma to the knee as a result of a fall or other injury.
Knee Pain Risk Factors
Some people are more prone to knee pain than others based on a number of factors, including gender, age, activity level, and previous injury.
Weak or inflexible muscles are a significant contributor to increased knee pain. When a muscle or muscle group is too weak, it puts undue stress on the other muscles and parts of your body, causing errors in movement or mechanical dysfunction. Exercising to increase your strength and flexibility can ensure that you use your full range of motion for any activity and that your movement does not make you prone to injury.
Treating Knee Pain
Any time you have knee pain, the best place to start is self-care. You can employ the RICE method, which is often the first recommendation of doctors to patients who are managing pain. This method includes:
- Rest of the affected area, for up to 48 hours (but not much longer, as too much rest can lead to more pain)
- Ice on the affected area for twenty minutes every four hours
- Compression of the affected area
- Elevation of the affected area so that it is above the heart, causing fluids to move away from it and limiting inflammation
If this is not enough to help you manage your pain, your doctor will most likely prescribe you medication. Physical therapy is another common form of treatment that will help you strengthen the parts of your body that support your knee and help take some of the stress off the affected area.
Whether you have chronic knee pain due to arthritis or a more severe knee injury caused by an accident of some sort, Affordable Chiropractic in Killeen is here to help. Our knee pain chiropractors are available to diagnose and treat your discomfort with safe, natural, and effective chiropractic treatment options.