What is the knee?
The knee is anatomically described as the section which joins the thigh to the lower leg. It is made up of the bones of the thigh (femur), the leg (tibia and fibula), and the patella. The structure is held together by tendons and ligaments, and protected from shock by surrounding cartilage and fluid-filled sacs. The knee mainly functions to allow leg movement especially for walking purposes, as well as in helping bear part of the weight of the upper body when standing. The complex joint structure permits a wide range of movement such as flexion, extension, and a limited degree of rotation.
What is knee pain?
Due to the extensive amount of movement endured by the knee joint, it is hugely subject to strain and injury, either resulting from wear and tear, trauma, or overuse. This results to knee pain, which may involve the entire knee or just a section of it. Knee pain is the discomfort in the knee area of varying severity, usually accompanied by redness, swelling and stiffness. As smooth and pain-free leg movements rely heavily on the integrity of the bones, cushioning and support structures of the knee joint, knee pain could also inevitably lead to walking difficulties, weakness, and inability to assume certain leg positions.
What causes knee pain?
The knee joint is made up of many units with differing functions, and all these structures are subject to inflammation, irritation, and infection, consequently causing pain. As difficult as the discomfort is, it is important to remember that knee pain is merely a symptom, thus consulting a doctor for complete diagnosis is always the best course of action. It is necessary to pay attention to treating the underlying causes on top of pain management. Several conditions causing knee pain include the following:
- patellofemoral syndrome
- meniscal tears
- anterior and posterior cruciate ligament tears (ACL and PCL)
- dislocation of one of the bones making up the knee joint
- knee trauma
- knee infections
How is knee pain diagnosed?
Upon consulting with your healthcare professional, your case will be evaluated through several diagnostic procedures. Physical examination is done primarily to inspect for signs of swelling, as well as to mechanically test the integrity of the tendons and ligaments. Patients may also be subjected to knee x-rays, diagnostic imaging tests such as MRI scans, knee joint aspiration, or arthroscopy for a more complete evaluation of the knee structures and determination of the cause of knee pain.
How is knee pain treated?
After thorough evaluation of the knee pain, patients may be recommended by physicians to undergo a few of many possible treatments to not only lessen the pain, but also to deal with the actual injury, infection, or irritation. In some cases, knee pain can be remedied at home through rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, while others require interventional therapy or even surgery, all depending on the severity and nature of the injury or infection. Some of the common treatments include:
- Pain medication (e.g. acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen)
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory steroid injections
- Hyaluronan injection
- Arthroscopic surgery
- Knee surgery
- Rest, cold compress, and bandage supports
Needing a specialist for your knee pain in Los Angeles?
Are your knees giving you trouble? Dr. Kevin Li, MD, a double-board certified pain management specialist based in Los Angeles, may be able to help you. With his expertise in evaluating and treating patients gained from years of practice and extensive training, he could provide you with pain management care, from diagnosis, to treatment, to rehabilitation. In addition to his competence, Dr. Li also believes in patient-centered, individualized care, so you only get holistic treatment that suit you best. Call his L.A clinic at (626) 538 – 8950 now for an appointment, and say goodbye to pain!