Knee pain is a common complaint which can be caused by a large variety of issues. While treatment for some of the issues is similar, there are diverse methods for treating each diagnosis.
Minor knee pain is often treated at home using anti-inflammatories and painkillers as well as various gels and topical creams. Heat packs and ice packs are also used for minor injuries to the knee. Where the pain persists or becomes chronic, you would need to seek medical advice. Home treatment usually includes protecting the knee from any further injury using a brace or padding, not using the knee extensively so that it can rest and heal, using ice-packs to reduce inflammation, and elevating the knee where possible.
Here are a few of the main causes of knee pain and their treatment specifications:
Torn or sprained cruciate ligaments: This is often a sports injury caused by twisting the knee, a sudden stop or even damage such as a blow to the knee. Knee will generally be swollen and painful and unable to handle weight. This type of injury may require surgery, knee braces and rest as well as prescription medication to improve.
Rupture of the tendons: This type of injury usually occurs in older athletes or people who have used steroids in the past. Pain is felt on extension of the leg or when kicking. The patella may also be out of place. Urgent surgical repair is generally required.
Injuries to the meniscus: These are usually from trauma but can also result from overuse. The knee may lock, grind or click when being used. The knee may appear swollen and may give way when being used. Surgical repair may be required.
Dislocation of the knee: This type of injury is considered an emergency and requires immediate attention. This type of injury can cause tendon damage, ligament stretching and even cut off blood supply to the lower leg. Nerve injuries can also occur. These injuries are very painful and the leg or knee appears deformed. Even if the knee pops back in to place on its own, further care is needed to insure no nerves or arteries are trapped and there is no further injury as a result of the dislocation.
Kneecap dislocation: Your patella can become dislocated for a number of reasons and would need to be put back in to place by a doctor. The knee would need to be checked for fractures and may require splinting to keep the knee cap aligned and allow tissues to heal.
Arthritis: Arthritis of the knee can take various forms such as osteoarthritis caused by the cartilage degenerating causing bone to rub on bone. This is usually treated with painkillers and anti-inflammatories and possibly lubricating gels being injected in to the knee. Knee joint replacement is possible in severe cases. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the connective tissue in many joints and is treated by anti-inflammatories and painkiller as well as medication to reduce the progression of the disease. Gout and other crystalline arthritis are caused by crystals forming in the joints and treatment is the same as for gout anywhere else in the body.
Bursitis: Characterized by chronic pain and inflammation of the bursae. This is often caused by being on your knees a lot, usually as part of your job, such as a tile layer. This is usually treated at home with rest, pain medication and anti-inflammatories as well as elevating and compressing the knee and keeping it elevated. If severe, steroid injections may be prescribed.
Infection: The knee can become infected by many organisms even including STDs such as gonorrhea. Painful swelling, fever, chills and so forth might result, but any sudden swelling should be checked by a doctor. Treatment is usually antibiotics and in severe cases, aspiration or surgical drainage of the knee.
Tendinitis: Tendon inflammation is often seen in people that play sports requiring a lot of jumping. Pain is localized and gets worse during exercise. Treatment includes rest, icing the area, anti-inflammatories and painkillers.
There are a number of other injuries and diseases that are more rarely seen with regards knee injuries or illnesses. If you suspect illness or injury, it is always best to get it checked out by your doctor and follow the recommended regime to heal.