|How does the Knee work?
The largest joint in the
body is the knee. The knee is made up of the lower end of the thigh bone
(femur), the upper end of the shin bone (tibia) and the knee
cap (patella). Large ligaments attach to the thigh and shin bones to
provide stability. These long thigh muscles give the knee its' strength.
The joint surfaces where
these three bones touch are covered with a smooth substance that cushions
the bones and enables them to move easily. All remaining surfaces of the
knee are covered by a thin, smooth tissue liner called the synovial
membrane. This membrane releases a special fluid that lubricates the knee
and reduces friction in a healthy knee.
Causes of Knee Pain:
The most common cause of
chronic knee pain is arthritis. The most common types of arthritis are
osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic arthritis.
occurs after age 50. Family history of osteoarthritis is common. It can
also appear in younger people who have injured their knee in the past.
Early symptoms include pain and stiffness in the morning or after physical
activity. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and
wears away. The bones then rub against each other, causing pain and
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a
disease in which the synovial membrane becomes thickened and inflamed,
producing too much synovial fluid, which overfills the joint space. This
inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause pain and
stiffness. This form of arthritis is triggered by an immune system
failure. It is more common in woman. Symptoms include fatigue and flu-like
A serious knee injury can
lead to traumatic arthritis. A knee fracture or knee ligament tears
may damage the cartilage over time.
Bursitis of the knee occurs
when a fluid-filled sac that serves as a cushion between a bone and soft
tissue becomes inflamed. It can be caused by extensive kneeling, infection
or injury. It usually lasts for a few weeks. Symptoms are pain and
swelling just below the inside of the knee. Treatment includes stretching
and anti-inflammatory drugs.
The tendon that connects
the hamstrings in the back of the thigh to the knee can become inflamed
and cause pain in the knee. This is know as tendonitis. Treatment includes
rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy.
There are three common
sports-related causes of knee pain; runner's knee, injured ligaments and
torn cartilage. Runner's Knee is caused by inflammation of the tendons,
which develops when you run, ski or skate too much or incorrectly.
Symptoms are pain and swelling at the front of the knee. Ligaments are
tough bands of tissue connecting bones in your joints that can be
stretched or torn when your knee is twisted or hit. Symptoms are immediate
and severe pain. The two pads of cartilage in your knee can be torn if you
forcefully twist your knee. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, locking
or clicking of the knee. As mentioned above, sports injuries can lead to
the development of osteoarthritis later in life.
further reading on arthritis we recommend the following links:
Arthritis: Timely Treatments for an Ageless Disease
from FDA website.