The location of the knee pain can vary depending on which structure is involved. With infection, the whole knee might be swollen and painful, while a torn meniscus or fracture of a bone gives symptoms only in one specific location.
The severity of the pain can vary, from a minor ache to a severe and disabling pain.
Some of the other findings that accompany knee pain are difficulty walking due to instability of the knee,limping due to discomfort,locking of the knee (unable to bend the knee),redness and swelling,inability to extend the knee.
Knee pain can be divided into three major categories:Acute injury: such as a broken bone, torn ligament
Medical conditions: arthritis, infections
Below is a list of some of the more frequent causes of knee pain. This is not an all-inclusive list but rather highlights a few causes of knee pain in each of the above categories.
Fractures: Direct trauma to the bony structure can cause one of the bones in the knee to break. This is usually a very obvious and painful injury. Most knee fractures are not only painful but will also interfere with the proper functioning of the knee (such as kneecap fracture) or make it very painful to bear weight (such as tibial plateau fracture). All fractures need immediate medical attention.
Ligament injuries: The most common injury is the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury. This is often a sports-related injury due to a sudden stop and change in directions.
Meniscus injuries: The menisci (medial and lateral) are made of cartilage and act as shock absorbers between bones in the knee. Twisting the knee can injure the meniscus.
Dislocation: The knee joint can be dislocated, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. This injury often occurs during a motor-vehicle accident when the knee hits the dashboard.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect any joint in the body. It can cause severe pain and disability.
Gout is a form of arthritis that is most commonly found in the big toe, though it can also affect the knee.
With septic arthritis (infectious arthritis), the knee joint can become infected; this leads to pain, swelling, and fever. This condition requires antibiotics and drainage treatments as soon as possible.
Chronic use/overuse conditions
Patellar tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons connecting the kneecap (patella) to the bone of the lower leg. Patellar tendinitis is a chronic condition often found in individuals repeating the same motion (such as runners and cyclists).
Osteoarthritis: A wearing down of cartilage of the joint due to use and age
Children can develop inflammation of the point of bony insertion of the patellar tendon (Osgood-Schlatter disease).
Biomechanics: The knee joint is a complicated in its operation and is used frequently throughout the day. Any change in the movement of the joint (leg-length difference, change in walking style due to back problems) can cause subtle changes and cause pain and injuries.
Overuse during repetitive motions as are found during certain exercises (jogging, skiing) or work conditions (long periods of kneeling) can cause breakdown of cartilage and lead to pain
Any pain that does not respond to rest or disappears within a few days should be evaluated by a doctor. In addition, the following are symptoms and signs in the knee that a doctor should evaluate:
- Inability to bend
- Unable to walk or discomfort while walking
- Significant pain
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