Recognizing Chronic Knee Pain Conditions: From Osteoarthritis to Runner's Knee

As much as we might try to prevent it with investments in supportive knee compression sleeves and time spent visiting a physiotherapist - or even an acupuncturist, the truth is that most people will experience discomfort around the knee joint and some point in their lives. There are many different reasons for knee pain, ranging from muscle strains and tendinitis caused by exercise and sport, to chronic knee pain conditions prompted by injuries or even genetics.

Chronic knee pain conditions can differ in severity somewhat significantly. For some people, the pain could be so severe that it limits their daily activities, preventing them from enjoying the lifestyle that they desire. For others, the reasons for knee pain could lead them to avoid the activity they crave in their everyday life, even if the discomfort is relatively mild. In either case, the chances are that you're dealing with a problem that shouldn't be ignored. Though cutting edge procedures are in the works, the first step is recognizing your problem.

Following, we'll discuss some of the most common chronic knee pain conditions, so that you can understand the reasons for knee pain in your circumstances, and perhaps discover what you might be able to do about them.

Chronic Knee Pain Conditions

Knee Ligament Injuries and Cartilage Tears

Your ligaments are the tissues in your body that connect your lower leg bones to your thigh bones. These are the substances that hold your bones together, keeping your knee stable as you walk, run, stand, or jump. Sprains and tears to the ligaments can be very common in many sports, as the tissues are quite vulnerable. Though a sprain or tear is generally a temporary problem, it can become chronic if an injury to the medial collateral ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, or anterior cruciate ligament is not treated properly.

The same concept applies to tears in the knee cartilage - the strong and flexible tissues that protects and covers the space at the ends of your bones. These reasons for knee pain usually occur as a result of excessive motion or trauma, and the best way to treat them is to see a doctor, and attempt the RICE method, resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the knee for the first 72 hours following injury. Remember, if your knee compression sleeves cause extra discomfort, you might need to speak to an expert.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

While chronic knee pain conditions resulting from tears to the knee cartilage and ligaments can be prevented by displaying additional caution during athletic events and workouts, chronic issues like arthritis are more difficult to defend against. Arthritis makes up one of the most common reasons for knee pain, and the biggest offender is osteoarthritis - the condition that refers to the progressive wearing of cartilage around the knee joint.

Osteoarthritis within the knee causes stiffness, tenderness, pain, swelling, loss of strength, and loss of motion around the joint, and typically occurs in people over the age of fifty. Unlike sprains, where the reasons for knee pain are often accidentally self-inflicted, the causes of osteoarthritis range from genetics, to weight, age, infections, and even illness. Osteoarthritis may also be caused by wear and tear, and sports injuries. To overcome this issue, you'll need to discuss potential therapies and medicines with your doctor. You may be required to take NSAIDs, or even undergo surgery.

IT Band Syndrome

IT Band syndrome is one of the most common chronic knee pain conditions for people who experience discomfort in the lateral side of the joint. Iliotibial band syndrome is commonly seen amongst runners, and it can sometimes be helped with the use of knee compression sleeves when the sleeves are used to provide support and structure while running.

The IT band is the fibrous connective tissue that runs in a thick band along the outside of the knee, eventually connecting with the shinbone. The tissues here are responsible for helping you to extend and straighten your knee, as well as ensuring that you can lift your leg out from the side of your body. Unfortunately, repetitive movements in the knee can generate friction and pain, leading to chronic discomfort in the area that worsens with running. The best way to treat this issue is through physical therapy and exercise.

Runner's Knee

Finally, runner's knee is one of the most common reasons for knee pain around the front of the joint. Importantly, you shouldn't be fooled by the name, as like many chronic knee pain conditions, runner's knee is just as likely to affect sedentary people as it is to injure active people.

Most people utilize the phrase "runner's knee" when they refer toa number of medical conditions which can lead to pain specifically in the front part of the knee, including patellofemoral misalignment, anterior knee pain syndrome, and chondromalacia patella. Common signs of this condition include a dull, aching pain around the front of the kneecap even when you're wearing your knee compression sleeves, as well as additional pain when you attempt to bend, kneel, squat, or walk up and down stairs. Various factors can contribute to runner's knee, including kneecap dislocation, kneecap misalignment, and repetitive strain caused by over-training. Often, the best way to prevent the condition is to engage in regular stretching, and ensure you always wear the correct footwear.

Preventing Chronic Knee Pain Conditions

Now that you know the most common reasons for knee pain, the chances are you'll want to know how to prevent them. While it's possible to prevent some of the possible causes behind knee pain, it's important to remember that you can't fight back against everything. The best approach involves making healthy changes to your lifestyle, such as:

  • Warming up, and stretching before and after exercises. Ensure you stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps to allow for a full range of motion.
  • Losing weight to reduce the amount of stress your knees endure on a daily basis.
  • Sticking to paved surfaces during exercise to reduce the risk of injury caused by uneven roads and grassy surfaces.
  • Investing in support from things like knee compression sleeves, and shoe inserts, as well as making sure that you have the right running shoes to support your gait.

Hopefully this article will have given you the information you need about chronic knee pain conditions, and offered some advice on how you can avoid them. If you have further thoughts to share about the common reasons for knee pain, please share them in the comments!


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