Painful Knee: Its Cause and Its Treatments

Having knee pain is common. This joint is indeed particularly prone to trauma, arthritis and age-related wear. It is not the sedentary population that suffers the most, but physically active people.

The knee is the largest joint of the body in terms of cartilaginous articular surface. It is also the most complex joint and, as such, presents a greater susceptibility to trauma, natural wear and infections. The painful knee represents a source of handicap since it reduces the work capacity and the performance of the acts of daily life.

In general, the assessment of a painful knee leads the doctor to seek the following information: the type of pain (mechanical or inflammatory), the presence of functional impotence and instability. The latter results in episodes of knee derailing with falls or a simple sensation of insecurity, blockages (limitation of the amplitude to the extension) or pseudo-blockages related to clashes of the cartilaginous surfaces.

In rare situations, blood tests are indicated, for example to exclude or confirm Lyme arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus.

Standard radiography is indicated in cases of trauma, tumoral pathologies, and arthritis or osteoarthritis. Bone scintigraphy (imaging examination in nuclear medicine) can be useful for the diagnosis of bone fissure, osteonecrosis or tumors. MRI is very useful in the presence of a traumatic pathology because it reveals ligamentous, meniscal, tendinous lesions and fractures that have gone unnoticed on standard radiographs, but it is often only necessary in part of a possible surgical treatment.

Arthroscopy (surgical technique of introducing a small camera via an incision) is used in case of diagnostic doubt or in combination with a curative surgical procedure. Finally, articular puncture, which distinguishes mechanical damage from inflammatory disease, is indicated in all patients with joint effusion (excessive accumulation of fluid in the joint).

And treatment
Treatment depends on the cause of the sore knee. In most cases, as a first step and to reduce pain and inflammation, it is useful to apply cold packs or coated crushed ice, within 48-72 hours after trauma or in the presence of inflammation. The effect of cold is threefold. It limits inflammation by decreasing metabolism, decreases edema and hematoma and reduces pain by “anesthetic” action. It is also recommended to favor the application of ice as analgesic.

The application of heat is indicated in a second time in case of trauma and for the treatment of muscle contractures. This would promote the repair process and reduce muscle spasms.

A third measure to be taken is the immobilization and the elevation of the affected limb, with the aim of first reducing the inflammatory process and favoring the healing of tissues in the longer term. The knee is immobilized most often at 30 ° flexion, except in the presence of patellar pathologies. After the acute phase, for most pathologies, physiotherapy is essential and should be undertaken as soon as possible.

Osteoarthritis of the knee

The management of osteoarthritis of the knee (or knee osteoarthritis) aims to relieve symptoms and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. In addition to rest during periods of painful exacerbation, it is important to maintain muscle tone and joint flexibility as well as to fight overweight. It is advisable to avoid the practice of impact sports (running, jumping, tennis) and to favor unsupported activities such as swimming, cycling or rowing.

When medicated analgesia is administered, it should be known that prolonged use of analgesics is to be avoided because of their possible side effects. For their part, corticosteroid infiltrations effectively relieve the painful thrust. In contrast, the effect lasts only two to four weeks and should not exceed four injections per year for a joint. Surgical treatments are reserved for patients with intolerable pain and / or disability on a daily basis. Their effectiveness is about 90% at ten years and 75% at twenty years.

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Painful Knee: Its Cause and Its Treatments - /10


Having knee pain is common. This joint is indeed particularly prone to trauma, arthritis and age-related wear.

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