The knee is a synovial hinge joint connecting the bones of the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). It is composed of two other joints: the tibiofemoral joint, which joins the tibia and femur, and the patellafemoral joint, which joins the femur to the patella (knee cap). Together these two joints form a modified hinge joint, unique among the joints of the body.
Larger and more complicated than any other joint, the knee enables bending and rotation of the lower leg and foot and bears the weight of much of the rest of the body. It is assisted in this endeavor by bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, any of which can suffer from knee injury. Within the knees, cartilage works to prevent bones from rubbing against each other, while ligaments join bones to other bones and tendons connect muscles to bones.
The patella sits over the two other bones that make up the knee joint at the front of the knee joint. All three bones are covered with a layer of articular cartilage, a shiny, rubbery material that absorbs shock. Separating the bones are pads of connective tissue known as menisci (singular: meniscus), two crescent-shaped discs located between the femur and tibia. The two menisci help stabilize the body and cushion the lower leg from the pressures exerted when standing and moving.
The two major muscle groups of the knee are the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. The quadriceps are four muscles in the anterior thigh that help to straighten the leg. The hamstring muscles run along the posterior thigh and help bend the leg at the knee. These two opposing muscle groups work together to move the knee and hip joints.
There are four ligaments connecting the femur and tibia. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) stabilizes the inner part of the knee. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) stabilizes the outer part of the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) limits rotation and forward movement of the tibia. The posterior cruciate ligament limits backwards movement of the tibia. Tearing of a ligament is a serious injury that may require inside knee pain treatment, in the case of the MCL, or outside knee pain treatment, when the ACL is ruptured.
There’s a subtle but significant difference between knee strains and knee sprains. A knee sprain is a stretching or tearing of a ligament in the knee. The severity of a knee sprain depends on whether the injury is whole or partial the number of ligaments involved. A knee strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. A strain can range from an over-stretch of the muscle or tendon to a total rupture.
Knee sprain may result from a fall or a blow to the body that jolts the joints out of their normal position, causing the ligament supporting that joint to over-stretch and potentially tear. When someone lands on the side of the foot or twists a knee while the leg is firmly planted, a sprain may result. Symptoms of knee sprain include swelling, bruising, and a loss of functional ability. Those suffering from only mild knee sprain will suffer from only mild bruising and in most cases will be able to place weight on the affected limb. People suffering from severe knee sprain will experience severe knee sprain. They will be unable to place their weight on the injured joint. They may not even be able to move it. It will be difficult to move even a few steps without feeling pain. Their leg may buckle and give way when they try to use it. They may feel loss of sensation in the injured area and see red streaks radiating out from it. In the most serious cases of knee sprain, the ligament is completely ruptured and chronic knee pain treatment becomes essential.
Knee strain, on the other hand, is typically caused by a twisting or pulling on the muscle or tendon. Acute knee strains are caused by sudden traumas, such as a blow to the body, or by over-exertion of the muscles in activities like lifting. Chronic knee strains, on the other hand, are more often the result of prolonged, repetitive stress on the muscles and tendons.
Strains often occur along the back of the thigh near the hamstring muscles. They’re especially common in contact sports such as soccer, football, and wrestling. People suffering from knee strains may experience muscle spasms, weakness, and pain. Often they will feel pain in the injured area and weakness in the associated muscles when attempting to move it. In the more extreme cases when the muscle or tendon is completely torn, they may experience crippling pain.
Degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, is a condition of degeneration of the bone’s cartilage. It’s the most common type of arthritis, affecting over 20 million people in the United States alone. Knee osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage weakens, frays, and in some extreme cases disappears entirely. Bony spurs known as osteophytes may form at the edges of joints, and patients may suffer from joint pain, loss of function, and reduced range of motion. Disability can sometimes occur as a result of osteoarthritis in the weight-bearing joints, of which the knee is one.
Knee pain home treatment is similar for both knee strains and knee sprains. There are roughly two stages. The first stage largely centers is to reduce pain and inflammation. This is accomplished, especially in the first 24 to 48 hours after injury, with rest and recovery. Ice may be applied to the site of injury to increase circulation. Additionally a doctor may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate painful symptoms. Those with moderate or severe knee sprains may wear a cast.
The second stage of home treatment for knee pain focuses on rehabilitation to restore and improve function of the injured knee. To this end a patient may undergo an exercise program to prevent stiffness and increase range of motion and flexibility. Physical therapy may also be needed. As pain and swelling begins to subside, a physician will recommend that the patient participate in several sessions of weight-bearing and balancing exercises daily. This regimen typically lasts for at least a few weeks. He or she may progress to more advanced and difficult exercises as time goes on, with the ultimate goal of returning to sports and other activities.
Like anterior knee pain treatment, osteoarthritis knee pain treatment includes rest, exercise, and proper medication. In certain cases braces or splints may be worn as assistive devices to reduce the pain of weight-bearing. Physical exercise during arthritis knee pain treatment can lessen stiffness and pain in the joints and increase muscle strength and endurance. However, no exercise program should be undertaken before consulting with a physician. Doctors often recommend range-of-motion exercises to restore flexibility and maintain joint movement; strengthening exercises to increase muscle strength for the protection of joints; and aerobic exercises to improve fitness and control or reduce weight, which relieves the pressures on the joints that can aggravate arthritis. Additionally, aerobic exercises can sometimes lessen the pain of joint inflammation.
When knee pain treatment at home is not sufficient, help is available at the New York DNR. We provide comprehensive treatment for a variety of knee conditions, including meniscal tears, anterior knee pain, patellar tendinitis, pre-patellar bursitis, tears of the ACL and PCL, and strains / sprains of the MCL and LCL.
We employ technological gait analysis to evaluate the kinetic chain of the lower extremities. Gait analysis is a study of human locomotion in which a specialist evaluates the patient’s motion using instruments for measuring body mechanics and muscle activity. In treating the conditions that affect an individual’s ability to walk, gait analysis is one of the best treatments for knee pain.
The key to our success as a clinic lies in our combination of conservative orthopedics with advanced modalities such as real-time ultrasound and functional movement diagnosis. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is a relatively recent treatment in which high-intensity pressure waves are used to regenerate damaged tendons. We also Alter-G, an anti-gravity treadmill, to rehabilitate injured knees. Together these treatments make the New York DNR one of the best places in New York to receive treatment and rehabilitation for knee pain.
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