The knee joint is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. With age and exertion, the knee undergoes wear and tear that can impact its functioning and reduce the quality of life. In some cases, injury can also cause knee pain.
If you’re experiencing knee pain, read on below as we go over some of the frequently asked questions about the issue.
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What Causes Knee Pain?
The most common cause of knee pain is arthritis. In middle-aged and older people, osteoarthritis is common. It refers to the gradual breakdown of the knee cartilage. This usually happens if the joint is overexerted due to weight or heavy physical labour.
Younger people are mostly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. This happens when the knee joint is inflamed and causes the degradation of the cartilage.
Knee Pain after an Injury
A sudden blow or trauma can trigger knee pain in the knee joint. A sprain is among the most common injuries. The symptoms include swelling, inability to walk, and tenderness.
Torn cartilage is another reason behind knee pain. Blunt trauma to the joint can tear the connective tissue that provides stability when we walk.
In athletes, tendonitis is quite common too. The tendons get inflamed due to extensive physical activities such as running and jumping.
Knee Pain with No Obvious Injury
If you haven’t sustained a fall or injury but are facing knee pain, it could be due to an underlying medical condition. Arthritis, gout, and infections are the most common diagnoses for knee pain with no obvious cause.
How Long Can Knee Pain Last?
Knee pain symptoms should get better with a day or two of rest. If your symptoms don’t go away even after weeks or months, you might be experiencing chronic knee pain. In this case, you must visit an orthopaedic consultant or pain specialist for a thorough checkup.
How Long Should Knee Pain Last After a Fall?
The treatment plan for each patient varies according to the severity of the fall and the health of the joint. A sprain usually heals in two to four weeks. Bruises should stop hurting after a week or so. In the case of a torn ligament, the recovery time post-surgery can be six months to a year.
How Are Knee Problems Diagnosed?
It is difficult to find out the cause of knee pain without diagnostic tests. Below are some of the options to diagnose knee problems.
- An X-Ray can help you see the internal structure of your knee and detect any problems
- MRI can help check your ligaments and tissues for any damage using magnetic imaging
- CT scan can present a detailed picture of your knee
- A bone scan helps see the blood flow to the bone by inserting a small quantity of radioactive material into the bloodstream
- Arthroscopy detects knee problems by inserting an optic tube inside the joint through an incision. Technicians can look inside the joint and see symptoms of bone disease or tumors
How Do You Know If You Need a Knee Replacement?
The average age of a knee replacement surgery is 66 years. In some cases, you might need a knee replacement earlier. If you’re experiencing persistent pain that doesn’t react well to medicine, you can ask a surgeon for your options.
Another thing to check for is your mobility. If you’re unable to walk or move around at a level that is normal for your age, you might need a knee replacement.
People with any genetic or non-genetic knee deformities may also need a knee replacement. Remember that not all deformities are from birth. Your legs may start warping or bowing in and out of shape at a later age.
Knee Pain Treatment
The first order of business to treat knee pain is to make lifestyle changes. Take a break from your usual activities, especially any which put a lot of stress on the knee joint. Ask friends and family for help with chores. Order grocery online and avoid stepping out.
Ice the area to reduce swelling and use heat packs for the pain. Prop up your legs and feet when in bed.
Acupuncture has also proven helpful for patients. Tiny needles are inserted into your skin on certain strategic areas of the body. Hailing from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is often advised for chronic pain.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken in moderation. Gentle stretching and physiotherapy under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner can also help manage the symptoms.
Massages with ginger oil can also help reduce inflammation and ease the pain. Ginger can also be taken orally in the form of tea for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Hyaluronic acid injections are often advised for people who don’t respond to home remedies or OTC drugs. During arthritis, the hyaluronic acid in your knees thins out so doctors inject more to increase the quantity.
How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last for Knee Pain?
Corticosteroid shots are good for pain from osteoarthritis or inflammation in the joint. Yet, they are not a long-term solution or cure. Doctors say the shot may work best the first time it is administered with the efficacy waning off with time.
The pain relief from the injection lasts from six to twelve weeks. You should start to see improvement just a day or two after the shot. But it is not advisable to get an injection more than thrice a year. Too frequent use can damage cells and speed up the degenerative process of the knee.
How Long Does it Take for Knee Pain to Go Away?
Knee pain that is not acute should get better with a couple of days or weeks of rest. If your symptoms persist, you might need to explore alternative or surgically-invasive treatment options.
The recovery process is also different for each patient, so best to talk to your doctor about managing the pain. If you’re reading this and you don’t feel your knee pain is getting better, it’s best to see a doctor.