Knee pain and an active lifestyle
Most people experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Sports, exercise, and other activities can cause muscle strains, tendinitis, and more serious injuries to ligaments and cartilage.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact number of people who experience knee pain over their lifetime, but we do know the rates of how many people experience pain severe enough to turn to knee replacement surgery: In 2017, 966,000 knee replacement surgeries were performed in the United States.
The severity of knee pain can vary widely and depends on factors such as the cause and your age. For some, knee pain can be so severe that it limits daily activities. For others, mild knee pain may be a chronic hindrance to the active lifestyle they desire. The location of knee pain can also vary.
For example, the Clinical Journal of Pain
found that the most commonly reported location of knee pain is in the middle of the knee, in the joint that connects the thighbone to the shinbone. The second most common area people experience knee pain is in the kneecap area. Some people experience a combination of the two.
Here are some of the most common conditions and injuries that cause severe knee pain.
If you have an injury to the ligaments in your knee, you can experience knee pain. The ligaments are what connect your thigh bone (femur) to your lower leg bones (tibia and fibula). They hold these bones together and keep the knee stable.
Knee ligament sprains and tears are very common sports injuries, and can occur to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and medial collateral ligament (MCL).
Knee ligament injuries may also occur from high-energy accidents, such as a car crash.
The ACL ligament is the main ligament that runs through the middle of the joint between the thighbone and shinbone. ACL ruptures are the most common type of ligament injury in athletes.
ACL tears can occur as a result of an injury from movements that occur in sports, such as:
Symptoms of a knee ligament injury can include:
Any ligament injury can result in severe knee pain and could require surgery.
Other injuries, including tears, can take place in the cartilage of the knee.
Cartilage is a semi-hard (tough, but flexible) tissue that covers the end of your bones. In addition, knee cartilage also includes the two menisci on either side of the joint: the medial meniscus, located on the inside of the knee, and the lateral meniscus, positioned on the outside of the knee.
A meniscus tear is a common injury, and typically requires surgery. Unlike a ligament injury, which can happen in a variety of ways, a meniscus tear typically occurs as a result of one single movement. For instance, a sudden twist or turn can cause this knee cartilage to tear.
Meniscus tears are more common as you age, because the cartilage gets weaker and thins out, so it’s more likely to tear. Symptoms of a cartilage tear in the knee can include:
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in joints in the body, but it most often occurs in the knee. Arthritis is a chronic condition that can get worse over time and eventually require surgery.
The three most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis in the knee include: