Common Knee Problems
An active lifestyle is important for your joints and the overall health of your body. Sometimes, however, even the active ones may have to deal with joint problems. The knee joint is one such joint that is susceptible to injuries and problems. The hinge joint is made of the tibia (shin bone), femur (thighbone) and patella (kneecap). The two long bones are connected with several muscles and ligaments. The joint mainly facilitates flexion and extension movement and slight rotation of the legs.
We may not realise it, but the knee joint goes through a lot of stress even from our routine activities and especially during jogging, lifting weight, playing sports. Some of the common knee problems were shared with us by Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal – a highly experienced orthopaedic surgeon and a senior specialist in joint replacement and orthopaedics at MGM healthcare and Mahi Clinic – Chennai.
Ligament Tear or Sprain
Ligament tear or sprain is most likely to occur while playing sports like football, basketball, hockey. Certain movements like jumping or suddenly stopping may injure the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), located in the front side of the knee. Patients usually hear a crackling sound or may have a popping sensation in the affected knee. There’s swelling and pain. There is a considerable decrease in the range of motion.
Another ligament located just behind the ACL, the posterior cruciate ligament, is also susceptible to injury. An accident, falling on bent knees or sharp twisting of the knee may cause the condition.
Sometimes during sports activity, the kneecap is under continued stress. This may cause tearing in the tendons that connect the kneecap to the shinbone. It’s called patellar tendinitis. Due to this, the patient experiences soreness around the tendon and the kneecap. This may be accompanied by swelling and pain.
The knee has two cartilages that are placed between the shinbone and the thighbone. These, called menisci, absorb shock and balance weight between bones. Sometimes these menisci tear when the shock is beyond the threshold during sports activity. It is known to happen to aged people as well due to the degenerated meniscus. The primary symptoms are pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee. Sometimes, the leg may seem to be locked in place or the range of motion gets considerably reduced.
Our body has over 140 tiny sacs filled with a few drops of fluid. They are placed between bones and soft tissues. They provide cushioning and facilitate smooth sliding movement over bones. Sometimes, overuse causes irritation of bursae in the joints leading to inflammation and pain. This is known as Bursitis. Older people and those engaged in activities demanding repetitive movement are at risk of developing this condition.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
A thick band of connective tissues called the iliotibial band, located on the outer side of the thigh and knee may get injured from overuse. Athletes and marathon runners are at a higher risk of suffering from the condition. The repeated back and forth movement of the band over bony projections may result in irritation and inflammation of the band. The patient may experience pain on the lateral side of the knee that extends all the way to the hip in some cases.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types of arthritis. The causes of each of them are different but they can cause knee problems. In osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage breaks down gradually and may be completely lost in severe cases. Rheumatoid arthritis can also be problematic for knee joints causing inflammation and pain.
When to See the Orthopaedic Specialist
The best time to get a proper diagnosis and recommendation from your orthopaedic specialist is as soon as you notice the symptoms. Your doctor will recommend the best course of action as per your condition.