Knee Pain

Knee pain can be caused by any number of reasons and while anyone can experience it, it occurs most commonly in amateur and professional athletes, people that have fallen or suffer from a disease like arthritis. The knee joint takes a pounding from athletes that put a lifetime of repetitive stress on their knees during practice, workouts, and performances. In some cases, these practices, workouts, and performances stress the human knee beyond its capabilities resulting in chronic knee pain. A primary cause of knee pain is running. Professional athletes and casual runners that jog consistently, often experience some degree of knee pain over time. Add the physical contact of sports like football or soccer and the chances of knee pain from an injury rise dramatically. Ironically, the frequency of knee injuries and potential financial losses in professional sports, have led to significant medical treatment for knee pain.

When a professional athlete gets a knee injury, he or she can be unable to play due to knee pain. Most or all of them get paid wether they play or not. Team owners don’t like the idea of paying millions of dollars to employees that aren’t able to work. These athletes risk significant financial loss if they can’t perform due to knee pain from an injury that ends their careers. Knee pain from sports injuries has ended many professional sports careers prematurely. For these reasons, sport related injuries have inspired a rapid development of a branch of medicine that we now know as sports medicine. Sports medicine has become a highly specialized, groundbreaking discipline dedicated to sports injury treatment and rehabilitation. Sports medicine has saved the careers of some athletes that would have had to retire prematurely due to knee pain.

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL injury is a prime cause of debilitating knee pain for some athletes. The ACL runs down the outside of the knee and helps control lateral movement of the knee. When the ACL is torn or blown out, it puts top athletes out of action for several weeks depending on the severity of the injury. That’s assuming the injury can be repaired with orthoscopic surgery and physical therapy rehabilitation.

There’s also a psychological aspect of recovering from knee pain that has to be considered. When a non-athlete experiences severe knee pain, the natural reaction is to try not to aggravate the knee so that it won’t hurt. This sometimes leads to favoring the opposite leg or walking gingerly with a limp. When athletes try to return to their game, they may not feel as confident in their injured knee as they did before the injury. In addition to the actual injury, they have to overcome the fear of re-injury.

Closer to home, knee injuries occur when a person falls resulting in an injury that causes chronic knee pain. These falls can occur at home, at work or by slipping on a foreign substance just about anywhere. This can happen with anyone but it’s more prevalent in the elderly and particularly with elderly women who suffer from calcium deficiency. The calcium deficiency makes their bones more brittle leaving a woman that falls at greater risk of incurring knee pain than a person with healthier bones.

There are numerous treatment options for knee pain. Treatment options for knee pain can be grouped into three categories of external devices and applications, oral medications, and surgery. External devices and applications for knee pain consist of straps, bands, ice/heat packs, gels, creams, ointments, cortisone injections and/or a knee brace for running. Oral medications for knee pain can consist of ordinary over-the-counter products like aspirin, to prescription pain medication, to popular joint health products. Although highly effective, the side effects of oral medications is always a concern for patients. Surgery up to and including knee replacement, is also an option for treating knee pain. Surgery is usually a last resort for treating knee pain due to negative consequences of surgery like infection. Although not widespread in the United States, I want to mention acupuncture as a treatment for knee pain. This is an ancient eastern medical practice that most western doctors aren’t equipped to administer.

This writer is not a medical professional and is not suggesting medical advice. Due to the complexity of the knee joint, anyone suffering knee pain should see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you see a doctor about knee pain, the sooner you may be able to find relief from knee pain and/or be on the way to full recovery from a knee injury.